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For his first solo graphic album, serialized in Pilote magazine in 1973, Jacques Tardi created a reluctant protagonist evolving in a steampunkish pre-World-War-One milieu of wild inventions and crazy scientists... no, not Adèle Blanc-Sec. (She would follow three years later.) Lucien Brindavoine, professional layabout and occasional photographer, is drawn into a wild adventure that takes him to Istanbul, where he ends up in "Iron City," in the middle of a titanic struggle for the financial empire headed by the crippled Otto Lindenberg, populated by such eccentric characters as the heroic Oswald Carpleasure, the menacing aeroplane pilot Olga Vogelsang, and Lindenberg’s dwarfish handyman Klotz.
Brindavoine is drawn in a looser style than Tardi fans are used to, featuring huge, illustrative panels and a rich but limited color palette that makes this one of the most visually distinctive books in Tardi's career. The book is rounded off with "Flowers in Their Rifles," a far less light-hearted short story of Brindavoine as a soldier fighting in World War One, intended as the first chapter of a saga that was cut short by Tardi's split with the publisher.
Tardi would later explore World War One far more fully in It Was the War of the Trenches and other books — and as with The Arctic Marauder, he would integrate Brindavoine into the Adèle Blanc-Sec continuity. (Much of the third Adèle collection coming from Fantagraphics in 2014 focuses on the now crippled Brindavoine's miserable post-war existence, until he stumbles across Adèle, who we left sleeping in her chemical bath at the end of Volume Two.)
The Astonishing Advenures of Lucien Brindavoine is the 11th release in Fantagraphics' ongoing effort to bring the work of Tardi, the greatest living European cartoonist, to English-speaking audiences.