At its core, The Salon is a thriller. Sure, it’s a thriller about the Modernists in Paris and it’s really about the birth of cubism and sort of a sketched biography of Leo and Gertrude Stein… but it’s still a thriller.
Oh, I forgot to mention it’s absolutely hilarious. Bertozzi’s characterization of Picasso as a slightly dumb, frequently nude, macho man-slut is pure genius. Bertozzi does have a main character—Georges Braque leads the reader through the characters and the mystery (for the most part) but he’s dull compared to Picasso. Braque’s in The Salon half as a cab driver, half as an art history lecturer. That description isn’t a slight; Bertozzi does a good job with him in that reduced capacity. But he’s not even on the top five most engaging aspects of the comic.
Actually, I’m avoiding talking about a major surprise character mostly because he’s something of a spoiler. Bertozzi paces the comic beautifully, with the reader finding things out at the same time as the characters. Well, most of them. There’s one divergence from this approach in the second half of the comic; it makes the comic even better. Bertozzi gives his readers time to ponder before explaining.
Bertozzi’s artwork is a wondrous mix. He’s able to do the Parisian setting, able to do the panels bursting with characters and he’s able to do the emotional reaction shots. Even if the story weren’t utterly fantastic, the art would engage on its own.
The Salon’s great.
Writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Nick Bertozzi; publisher, St. Martin’s Press.