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Miss Don't Touch Me Hardcover – October 1, 2014
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About the Author
Hubert is the author of the Miss Don’t Touch Me series. Kerascoet is the pseudonym for a husband and wife team of artists who have contributed to the Dungeon series and the Miss Don’t Touch Me series.
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Miss Don't Touch Me is in a way a very musical piece but with the music muted. I see a clear relationship between the story, settings and type of story and two musical theatrical genres that were very popular in the 1930s, when the novel is set -- the vaudeville and the operetta or comic opera especially Offenbach's works. Thus, there is a mix of burlesque, comic stage piece, social satire, grotesque and erotic element, therefore, a mix of ingredients that have a common link. This could have been a terror novel and Blanche a depressed overly dramatic character, but the story is told in a light-hearted way, is sprinkled with light humour, and Blanche is more temperamental than dramatic.
One of the downsides might the be different tone, mood and tempo in the two different parts of the story as we go from the mystery and the murder to the exploration of Blanche's character. Personally, I liked both parts and I thought they made sense together and one comes to understand who Blanche really is and what she really wants. To be perfectly honest, the second part of the story could have been presented at the beginning of the book with some modifications and the murder story presented afterwards and the story would still be one to me.
The main downside to me is the ending, but has artistic integrity. It is a bit vague and abrupt and utterly unfair but it makes sense taking into account the nature of the main characters and the era where they live.
Hubert and Kerascoët make a great artistic combo. They understand each other and create amazing colourful elaborated pieces of art that are very thought-provoking, pregnant with meaning, but presented in a fun light-hearted entertaining way.
Hubert, is a master at creating complex characters: utterly charming and interesting but also deceiving and full of flaws, and who surprise the reader every time. In that regard, all the characters in Miss Don't Touch Me aren't what they seem to be at first sight, not even Blanche. Moreover, there is a clear digging into the individuality of each character, so the secondary characters aren't presented as story-fillers or accessories, they are fully-constructed individuals who have a narrative purpose.
Kerascoët's drawing style is based on precise naturalistic drawing with clear lines and added flare when necessary. The couple behind this plume name are equally good at depicting interiors, exteriors, country and city landscapes, night and day settings, and navigate from the ordinary and mundane to the hallucinogen and extraordinary, from the intimate to the external with great easiness. Besides, Kerascoët are able to give a specific personality to all the characters they draw.
Hubert is also the colourist of the book. He has a great knowledge of lighting and how colour works and uses them with naturalistic but cinematic precision. His trademark is flamboyant intense vibrant colouring and toned up pastels. So the novel doesn't have a specific hue or overall dominating tone, but the story is the one that dictates the colour. He does similarly in his other graphic novel Beauty.
The lettering by Ortho (an American lettering studio that also did the lettering for Beauty) is classic. This is a graphic novel that is as verbal as it is graphic, so there is quite a of text, but it is cosily located in rectangular balloons and economic captions upper-vignette areas. The lettering is appropriate and not invasive, but not specially expressive either, except for some of the spiky-shaped balloons when the characters are shouting. In fact, there are very few kapows as well, as the drawing is particularly expressive.
Overall, Miss Don't Touch Me is a great entertaining and satiric novel that goes beyond the murder mystery and digs into social conventions and double morals and shows how the hunger for life plays a role in the survival of people who have to endure much in life but present themselves not a as victims.