Art and Story by Hirohiko Araki
Published by NBM Comics Lit
Let me say one interesting thing about “Rohan at the Louvre” by Hirohiko Araki. It’s to be read like an authentic Japanese “manga” comic book in that you start at what would usually be the back of the book. You then read from right to left toward what would be the front of any American comic book.
I would say that’s just about it, possibly.
Here’s the background blurb:
“Rohan, a young mangaka, meets a beautiful mysterious young woman with a dramatic story. Seeing him draw, she tells him of a cursed 200 year old painting using the blackest ink ever known from a 1000 year old tree the painter had brought down without approval from the Emperor who had him executed fro doing so. The painting meanwhile had been saved from destruction by a curator at the Louvre. Rohan forgets this story as he becomes famous but ten years later, visiting Paris, he takes the occasion to try and locate the painting.”
It turns out that the painting, a remnant perhaps of the Night Gallery (Not as good as Twilight Zone but it had its moments…) has magic dark powers. I guess this is the kind of horror and fantasy that annoys me in that I don’t have a very clear sense if there are any limits whatsoever to these Dark Forces. I don’t have a clear sense of what the Evil Painting can do so its kind of hard to buy any kind of resolution. I mean, its kind of like the girl in “The Ring”. It was good filmmaking I thought and I’m referring to the American version with Naomi Watts and the nightmarish VCR tapes. But what exactly were the limits to her powers? I guess I’m more of a “Fringe” than a “Supernatural” kind of guy.
Here’s a page of the art.
Are you frightened yet? The art is okay I guess. It looks like a lot of Manga art. I think technically its very good and the storytelling is excellent. No problems there. It just didn’t strike me as being that interesting. I’m always surprised that there doesn’t seem to be much individuality among Japanese artists. You take any ten American comics artists, and you can sense their school whether its Kirby or Adams or old drug stained issues of Heavy Metal, but they all develop their own styles. Darwyn Cooke is different from James Stokoe who looks nothing like Chris Sprouse. But they’re all brilliant.
Final verdict: “Meh” or 3 out of 5 stars. I don’t recommend unless you’re an Araki addict. I mean, if you think movies like “The Grudge” and “The Ring” are the greatest horror properties then go knock yourself out with “Rohan at the Louvre”. Related: I think this is the second so so review I’ve given to a NBM property. I actually love most of the books that I’ve seen from this imprint and I think about 10 years ago I gave great reviews for both “Amnesia” and “Wake” which I thought were extraordinary and unique properties that you should buy if you see them at your favorite comics store. It should also be noted that this is one of a number of comics that feature “The Louvre”. I have to confess the other comics look to be much more interesting and more conventional which in this case I think might result in deeper stories. Don’t hesitate to send me those. I also thought “Rumble Girls” was very good manga with a rigorous science fiction story at is core but I lost it so if you want to resend me that I would appreciate it…