750 Years. One city. One building.
This is a masterpiece.
Vincent Mahé’s debut graphic novel from Nobrow Press is the kind of work that you could 100% understand a cartoonist spiking the mic and walking away from the industry over. I’m not exaggerating, 750 Years In Paris is just that damn good.
This comic does something outside-the-box in that rather than driving forward with characters telling the tale of 750 years in the City of Lights, it is focused solely on the location. A single property in Paris, France, is shown over 750 years. Beginning in 1265, Mahé chronicles the good, bad, and ugly times of one of the world’s most famous cities with an engrossing style that had me completely hooked from the first page I saw. The choice to focus on and adapt a single property through the ages is brilliant, but this book is more than just concept. Mahé is one hell of a gifted artist and the emotions he can evoke from faceless people around a property that stands the test of time is amazing.
I read this book four days before the shootings in Paris and I have several times since. Mahé captures the resilience and history of this city like no other historical work I have ever read. Paris has been, several times, a violent city and a grand city where events have occurred that have changed the world. Mahé captures the legacy of the famous city without relying on famous landmarks and locations, but rather by using a location where the people of the time would have lived. To me, this makes his work all that more powerful in that he isn’t relying on “stereotypical” imagery associated with Paris, but brings the history down to the level of the common person. Having never been to Paris and living in a city just over 100 years old, I have never felt connected to the history of a place quite like I did while reading this amazing work. This graphic novel will make you feel, and that is the brilliance of what Mahé has built here.
Stepping back a bit from Mahé’s brilliance, attention must be paid to Nobrow’s brilliant design team. 750 Years In Paris is physically large, and screams “coffee table book”. It’s the kind of book that if you leave it out, the design is elegant and striking enough to not look out of place in a room and I guarantee any visitors you have will pick it up…and they won’t put it down. Nobrow spares no expense with the printing, which matters with a work of art like this. The impact would not be the same if this was printed as a standard sized trade paperback and I applaud Nobrow for recognizing this. This story is given the proper representation and room to breathe, props to Nobrow for letting its mastery unfold as it should.
This is the kind of comic that takes a person aback and makes them realize the ingenuity that can be found in this medium. I cannot recommend it highly enough, as I know this book’s impact will stay with me for years. This book transcends something I could simply review, in my mind, it is something else entirely that belongs in a different league of storytelling. Bravo, Vincent Mahé, your brilliant work has changed my perception of the medium and made me ravenous for new kinds of storytelling.
More information about 750 Years In Paris can be found at the Nobrow Press website here.