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With the release of his Eisner Award-nominated graphic novel 5,000 KM Per Second in 2016 and this year’s equally acclaimed The Interview, Italian cartoonist Manuele Fior has established himself as one of the unequivocally great graphic novelists working today. Blackbird Days further underscores Fior’s virtuosic talents with this diverse collection of ten short stories created over the past decade for various anthologies and international magazines.
The title story, “Blackbird Days” — set in the same world as The Interview — tells the story of an engineer, anxious about being caught for a crime, who is asked to inspect something unusual at a marble quarry. Blackbird Days also showcases Fior’s passion for architecture and international settings: stories are about a recently relocated father who loses his young son in Berlin’s Tempelhof Park (“Help!”); a maligned teacher who abandons her students on a class trip to Paris (“Class Trip”); a young woman writing about her first impressions of Oslo (“Postcard from Oslo,” a story which directly relates to 5,000 KM Per Second); a couple tries to enjoy a vacation in Southern Italy after receiving bad news (“Postcard from Salento”); a man suffering violently in France during WWI (“The Story of Gabriel C.”); the painter Arnold Böcklin visiting the baths on Ischia before painting his famous masterpiece, “The Island of Death” (“The Painter”); and, an immigrant grandmother’s tale of how she escaped war in Indochina. Blackbird Days is rounded out with an autobiographical snapshot of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Fior’s current home of Paris, and a final divertissement in which two giant robots battle it out in metropolitan Paris.