Writer: Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau
Artist: Simon Leclerc
Publisher: 01 First Second
When you are new to comics, there is an enormous amount of content that is suddenly available to discover. How do we tackle this amount without becoming (too) overwhelmed? One of my main tactics has been to base my picks on how I feel about the cover. When the art is my thing, I'm already about 85 to 90% sold.
I have obviously had some mishaps when the story turns out to be a letdown, that I wish I had done some more research. Other times however, I come across little treasures that are a joy to read as well as to look at! One of these treasures is Idle Days, written by Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau as his debut novel and illustrated by Simon Leclerc. A gorgeous graphic novel, published by First Second in 2018.
The cover is very striking with warm colors, it immediately gives off this tense and thrilling vibe. The art style is very unique, which makes it an extra interesting buy because it's something entirely new to add to my collection. Besides looking at the cover, I flip through the book to make sure the art inside isn't disappointingly different.
First Second has this gift to make the prettiest graphic novels, in the perfect size. While I'm being swooned by the soft cover and that amazing new book smell, I discover some very heavy art going on inside. The panels are dark with bold line work and coloring. The main color is this fiery red, which creates a certain type of atmosphere for the story. Same deduction as with the cover art, it's clear that this isn't a happy light-hearted story. Okay I am sold, and I didn't even read the synopsis.
Just like the art, the story is heavy and intense. Our main character, Jerome, is a runaway soldier at the very end of World War II. He has to live with his grandfather, Maurice, in the woods, since being in town is too dangerous for him to get caught by the military police. Jerome isn't excited about this, since he has a love interest in town but has no choice other than shacking up in the cabin next to Maurice's house. His grandfather is a stern man who puts Jerome to work to fix up his house. He makes him empty out the cluttered cellar which is full of remnants from the previous owners, a couple who kept the house as a restaurant. It immediately starts to take an eerie turn when Jerome mentions that the restaurant went out of business because one of the owners committed suicide. Maurice shuts down this conversation and tells him to get to work.
That first evening after emptying out the cellar, they sit by a fire made out of all the things they threw out. Maurice looks up in the sky and casually mentions that it is a new moon tonight and advises Jerome not to sleep in his cabin, offering his couch. Our main lead is slightly confused by this warning but decides he will be fine in his cabin. With an “as you wish” grandpa calls it a night and they both turn in. As promised, Jerome didn't sleep well and was plagued by mysterious nightmares perfectly illustrated by Simon Leclerc.
From then on the supernatural element of the story starts to grow, while never forgetting about the struggles Jerome has to face as a young man, a runaway soldier. Whatever the new moon brought with it, is just as much a mystery to the reader as it is to our main character. He wants to find out more about the things he's seeing and takes the reader along on his quest to find answers.
Idle Days is a very intriguing variant of a 'cabin in the woods' story. Rather than being secluded in the woods as a total victim, he still has to manage the daily struggles in life and chooses to look into this supernatural mess as well. What does Jerome find in the end? How does he get through all this? I don't know, does he?
Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau and Simon Leclerc delivered a really strong book with a good story enhanced by magnificent art; Even though some pages are void of dialogue, you still feel like you're reading. If you are looking for a unique scary story, I definitely recommend checking this out! There is no way you will regret adding this book to your collection.