Rating: 4/5 – An emotional story about a mime & his companions in WWII era France
Comic book readers familiar with Alejandro Jodorowsky know him from sci-fi epics such as The Incal, Metabarons and The Technopriests. But this prolific creator also spent much of his life involved with the theatre; directing more than one hundred plays and writing many as well. Jodorowsky left his native Chile as a young man and moved to Paris where he spent time working as a clown. He also studied mime, eventually joining the troupe of the famed mime Marcel Marceau. It is with that backdrop that we begin to understand Jodorowsky’s appreciation for this performance art and why Pietrolino, originally a play that Jodorowsky wrote for Marceau, was adapted to the graphic novel form.
Pietrolino is a story about a mime and his performance companions set in WWII era, Nazi-occupied France. It follows his struggle with his craft throughout the war and the years that follow. I have always been a fan of Alejandro Jodorowsky, but this book, much like the mime art form, is about the visuals, and artist O.G. Boiscommun steals the show. From the opening panel, Boiscommun’s art is undeniably European in line, color and feel. You get a true sense of place with Boiscommun’s settings and he is able to evoke so much emotion through his character’s faces and body language, mirroring that of a real world mime.
Narrated by Pietrolino’s friend Simio, we first meet duo in Paris, during the war, performing wherever they can to make ends meet. After an unfortunate run-in with some Nazi troops leaves Pietrolino’s hands broken and useless, the artist must find a way to continue performing. With the help of Simio, Pietrolino becomes Pietrolino, the Boxing Clown (a nod to Marceau’s Bip the Clown) and we follow Pietrolino through the ups and downs of his journey to be the star he was meant to be.
Pietrolino is a story about a mime, but through the silent actions of our protagonist we are able to see the emotions that we all experience in life. Like many of Pietrolino’s performances, this story ends with applause for Jodorowsky and Boiscommun, who have lovingly crafted an homage to Marcel Marceau. By doing so, they also show comic books fans what beautiful stories can be told with this medium.
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