- Hardcover: 183 pages
- Publisher: Titan Comics (April 12, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1782763538
- ISBN-13: 978-1782763536
- Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 0.6 x 12.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Nikopol Trilogy Hardcover – April 12, 2016
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About the Author
Enki Bilal was born in the former Yugoslavia in 1951, and moved to France aged 10. At age 14, he met Rene Goscinny, and began to focus his attention on a serious career in comics, starting with strips in Pilote magazine. The Nikopol Trilogy took over a decade to finally complete, and has been released as both a videogame, called Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals and a film, directed by Bilal, called Immortal, starring Charlotte Rampling.
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The compilation is a classic. You witness how Bilal evolved as an artist and as a story teller within a 12yr period. This is perfect for Blade Runner fans. Outstanding story line with a very haunting artwork presented in a large hardbound format.
5 stars is an understatement
First up, the artwork. Bilal has a unique, scratchy sort of style that evokes a grungy sense of hopeless dystopia while incorporating the fantastical; alien races, Egyptian gods, robots and grotesque and beautiful human beings alike populate his world. The colouring is unbelievable and really immerses you in the mood of his work, but its his line work that underpins the believability. It's dirty and manages a kind of cartoony realism that is hard to explain in words. This printing of The Nikopol Trilogy is grade A, the panels are well sized, the colours vibrant. In short the artwork will blow you away and is worth the price of the book alone. I think few would deny Bilal on this front.
Now to the story, which is perhaps less likely to be universally appreciated. Firstly a little context, and this is important. The kind of story telling Bilal employs, like many European artsists, is stylistically very different to what most North American audiences are used to. Where Hollywood and mainstream literature have emphasised Aristotle's famous outline for the 'proper pleasure', conventions such as beginning middle end, conflict/resolution, likable characters, etc, other styles are less formulaic and rigid in their framework, allowing for greater ambiguity, more focus on character than plot, even sometimes contradiction and paradox as a story telling device. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. At its worst the former ends up 'going through motions' that are too familiar, old and boring, telling the same stories in different iterations, over and over again, with only a superficial treatment. It's a passive experience that doesn't require much in the way of audience involvement. Think Michael Bay. On the other hand, at its worst the other style can lead to incoherence, pretentious and impenetrable works that alienate the viewer. Think Southland Tales perhaps.
But at their best both styles bring something interesting to the experience of the audience. The latter requires more engagement, is more challenging, but also more visceral and often a deeper more engaging experience because of it. I think a lot of the complaints about the story in the reviews here are from people who don't appreciate or understand another style of story telling to what they're familiar with. They've perhaps been raised expecting certain boxes to be ticked and are uncomfortable when they're not. If you think that's you, then you probably won't enjoy this. If, however, you like to be challenged, you don't mind when things aren't spoon feed in logical sequential order, and you don't have a problem with ambiguity and loose ends left flapping in the breeze for you to engage with and piece together yourself, then you will have no trouble here.
Bilal's work is most certainly not incoherent, is far from pretentious, and is accessible as long as you aren't looking for a Hollywood screenplay in the classical Western framework. The Nikopol Trilogy remains a seminal work in graphic novels, a mature and original story told with a unique and inspiring artistic talent. Bilal, along with Moebius, was the inspiration behind Ridley Scott's Bladerunner, and no doubt countless other 'mainstream' artists working in both film and graphic novels today. These guys helped lay the foundation for sci fi, steampunk and cyberpunk as we know and love it today.
The translation of the book is a bit clunky at times, but the story is great. And the art is detailed, but not to the point of your eyes wandering everywhere. Bilal puts in just enough detail for you to take a closer look at his panels. The colors reflect a grimy, claustrophobic, old city feel.
If you have the money and are tired of the same old same old, get this book. You wil find yourself rereading it to make sure you got everything the first time, which you probably did not.