By Mikaël, translated by Matt Maden (NBM)
ISBN: 978-1-68112-253-3 (HB) eISBN: 978-1-68112-254-0
As a purported land of promises and untapped opportunity, America has always fascinated storytellers – especially comics-creators – from the “Old World” of Europe: an inclination and interest that has frequently delivered potent and rewarding results. This continentally-published yarn – by self-taught, multi-disciplined, multi award-winning French-born Québécois auteur Mikaël (Junior l’Aventurier, Rapa Nui, Promise) was first released by Dargaud in 2018 as two European albums and now breaks into English via a monolithically oversized hardback (229 x 305mm) edition that gets the entire story done-in-one.
Everything about this stylish Depression-era drama is big and powerfully mythic. In March 1932, with poverty wracking the nation and the world, and Herbert Hoover dreading the upcoming Presidential election, immigrants and natives flock to Manhattan and the bustling, dangerous construction site that will one day be Rockerfeller Center. Casualties are high as we focus on the Irish contingent rushing daily into the skies to rivet and weld a concrete and steel colossus into New York City’s ever-changing skyline.
The story unfolds through the eyes of fresh-off-the-boat new recruit Dan Shackleton who joins the crew after the death of “high-steel” man Ryan Murphy. Dan is a garrulous, easy-going son-of-the-sod, but even he has difficulty befriending the taciturn, thoughtful, barely-human behemoth everyone calls Giant. A formidable worker, Giant lives in a grubby flop-house and keeps to himself, but affable Dan persists and eventually the big man almost-imperceptibly thaws – at least enough that Shackleton becomes unwitting witness to a strange ritual…
Hiding a tragic secret that dates back to the recent Irish War of Independence, the Big Man is a solitary creature of fiercely controlled passions who keeps his every opinion to himself. A dutiful worker, Giant was given the task of informing Murphy’s widow in Ireland when he died. Instead, he began impersonating the dead man in a string of letters containing the bulk of his own carefully-hoarded wages and savings. Over months, a bizarre one-sided relationship develops that metastasizes into a full-blown crisis after the silent bruiser falls foul of organised crime. When the letters and money stop, Mary Ann Murphy and her children take ship for America to be reunited with her beloved husband. As the wounded colossus recuperates, he has no idea of the troubles that are heading his way…
Tapping into a wealth of powerful socially-crusading movies that have immortalised pre-WWII America and packed with period detail and mythology, pungent political commentary, a broad cast of moving characters and timeless drama, this is a human-scaled tale playing out amongst mighty edifices – both human and architectural – with warmth, passion, humour and beguiling humanity.
Supplemented with an Introduction by Jean-Louis Tripp and a stunning selection of production sketches, covers and other art, Giant is a stunning saga of uncommon folk in perilous times and one no lover of grand stories could possibly resist.
© 2018 Dargaud-Benelux. © 2020 NBM for the English Translation. All rights reserved.
Giant is scheduled for UK release April 23rd 2020 and is available for pre-order now.
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