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the Complete Review
the complete review - comic book


The Sky Over the Louvre

Bernar Yslaire
Jean-Claude Carrière

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To purchase The Sky Over the Louvre

Title: The Sky Over the Louvre
Authors: B.Yslaire/J-C.Carrière
Genre: Comic book
Written: 2009 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 66 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Sky Over the Louvre - US
The Sky Over the Louvre - UK
The Sky Over the Louvre - Canada
Le ciel au-dessus du Louvre - Canada
The Sky Over the Louvre - India
Le ciel au-dessus du Louvre - France
Il cielo sopra il Louvre - Italia
  • French title: Le ciel au-dessus du Louvre
  • Translated by Joe Johnson

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Our Assessment:

(--) : some visual appeal, but the partially interesting story unfolds in too much of a slapdash way

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 11/4/2011 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "While Carriere's story examines Robespierre's Deist philosophy well, it does not provide much context for readers unfamiliar with the period and its major players. Luckily, Yslaire's rich artwork complements the story flawlessly" - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Sky Over the Louvre is set during French Revolutionary times, using the Louvre -- transformed into and opened to the public as a museum in 1793 -- and in particular the painter Jacques-Louis David to sketch out the arc of the revolution as it tries to gain hold and ultimately collapses on itself; David's paintings of 'Marat Assassinated' (1793) and 'General Bonaparte' (ca. 1798) are the book-end illustrations that mark the beginning and end of this story.
       The large-sized book -- it measures nearly a foot in height and width -- integrates several dozen paintings from the Louvre in the story, both as background but also as works-in-progress; these are accurately reproduced, in their full and often vibrant colors, and stand in contrast to Yslaire's grey-brown sketches (with touches of red), in both color and style. It is, of course, a matter of taste, but Yslaire's cartoon-figures are consistently strikingly unappealing; what strength the visual component of the story has comes from the juxtaposition of large and small framed pictures, and that with the real Louvre-art. Yslaire shows some flair in changing perspectives -- with close-ups, and some frames that are unfinished pencil-sketches -- but for the most part his is not attractive art (a considerable failing in such an art-centered story).
       The story includes that of a boy who winds up as the model for David's painting of the 'Death of Bara', the thirteen year-old martyr of the Revolution. The boy, Jules Stern, comes from Khazaria and denounces Mother France as killing the Revolution; annoyingly throughout his speech is typographically 'embellished' in a non-sensical way (presumably meant to convey some sort of accent): "SHÈ'S KILLING ÈVÈRYØNÈ", etc.
       The rapid tour through the ups and downs of the Revolution -- and the waves of executions -- is very rushed, but fortunately steps back at times to focus on David's efforts; his attempts to capture Bara as martyr of the Revolution are the most interesting parts of the story, and suggest a more patient and deliberate approach throughout would have been much more rewarding.
       With David arrested shortly after finishing the painting -- and after the execution of Robespierre -- the story then is nicely powerfully rounded off with the brief look at his return to his Louvre studio a few years later -- and Napoleon's triumph.
       The story -- at times condensed to typewritten summary on the page -- for the most part moves in far too much of a rush; perhaps writing for a French audience, over-familiar with every last detail of the Revolution, such summary treatment, alighting only on a few specific details, suffices, but it's not great story-telling -- too bad, because there's decent story here in the parts Yslaire and Carrière focus on. Problematic, too, is the sheer hideousness of Yslaire's figures and style (the cover gives you a good idea), especially since in this large-size format his drawings are often very much in your face (though truly, even in the small-scale pictures his line is a singularly unappealing one).
       It's an interesting concept -- and the integration of paintings by David and others into the comic-art shows the great potential here -- and there are some fine and interesting story ideas here, but The Sky Over the Louvre is far from being entirely successful.

- M.A.Orthofer, 21 July 2011

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The Sky Over the Louvre: Reviews: The Louvre: Bernar Yslaire: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Authors:

       Belgian comics-book-author Bernar Yslaire was born in 1957.

       French author and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière was born in 1931.

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© 2011 the complete review

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