Chlorophylle et le Monstre des Trois Sources, by Jean-Luc Cornette (writer) and René Hausman (artist) – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Chlorophylle et le Monstre des Trois Sources, by Jean-Luc Cornette (writer) and René Hausman (artist). Illustrated.
Brussels, Le Lombard, March 2016, hardcover, €14,99 (48 pages), Kindle €9,99.

Thanks, as always with French bandes dessinées, to Lex Nakashima for loaning this to me to review.

I am a big fan of the original Chlorophylle stories written and drawn by Raymond Macherot (1924-2008) in the 1950s and 1960s. They have all been reprinted in an attractive three-volume Intégrale set, which I applaud and recommend.

Today Le Lombard is having new adventures produced of many of its most popular comic strips of the French-Belgian “Golden Age” of the 1950s and 1960s, by the most prestigious artists of today. (You should see what has been done with Mickey Mouse!)

Both Cornette and Hausman have had long careers in the French-Belgian comic-book industry as both artists and writers. I will speculate that the main attraction of Chlorophylle and the Monster of Three Sources is Hausman’s detailed watercolor art.

I can appreciate it intellectually. But on a basic emotional level, it seems wrong. It’s like seeing a Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge story by Jack Kirby or Art Spiegelman in their own art styles – or, contrariwise, a Captain America adventure or a Maus episode drawn in Carl Barks’ art style. But this is being done deliberately.

Macherot made Chloro’s woodland village in “le petit bosquet” (the little grove) look like a little animal village in the forest. The houses in treetrunks and hillocks had front doors and windows. The mice and rabbits and crows wore scarves and hats. In Hausman’s interpretation, they are all unclothed animals living in bushes and tall grasses that are so spiky with twigs and thorns that it’s a wonder the smaller animals don’t spend their time caught up in tangles.

S. Salin in BDGest says that this is an homage, a makeover; not an imitation. Hausman knew and respected Macherot and his work, and he chose to draw Chloro and his northern European woodland grove in a more realistic style than Macherot did. This is Chloro and Minimum just before they abandoned the grove for the island of Coquefredouille and its animal civilization.

Chloro (dormouse) and Minimum (mouse) have had their adventure in a small human city (Pas de Salami pour Célimène, 1957) and returned to the little grove. Minimum has gotten a crush on Particule Piquechester, the youngest and prettiest of the three Piquechester mouse sisters. Particule has chosen to leave her sisters and build her own cabin on the shore of the lake of three sources (three small riverlets feed into it), where she goes swimming.

“‘Particule, do you know that we’re swimming in an enchanted lake?’ Minimum asks. ‘Do you know the legend of the lake of three sources?’ ‘No! I’ve never heard of it.’ ‘They say that the three riverlets are those of friendship… of love…and of separation. The water of the three riverlets mixes in the lake. When someone swims in it, they have to go to a place far from friendship and love to find separation.’” (pgs. 9-10) The next day Particule is missing and her cabin has been smashed to rubble. Chloro leads a rescue mission of Serpolet the rabbit, Particule’s sisters Olive and Vinaigrette, the beaver family, and others to find her (Minimum is too distraught to do anything practical).

To give away a major spoiler, Particule has been kidnapped by Caczor, a genuine Frankenstein’s monster sewn together from a badger and a hedgehog. But like the monster in Shelly’s original novel, Caczor is more a creature of pathos than of horror. The bittersweet ending leaves Minimum free to go with Chloro on future adventures.

Chlorophylle et le Monstre des Trois Sources is successful on its own terms as an-homage-and-not-an-imitation. It’s interesting to see Chloro the dormouse, Minimum the mouse, Serpolet the rabbit, Torpedo the otter, and others drawn in – well, not a realistic style, but more realistically than in Macherot’s funny-animal style. I certainly wouldn’t have recognized them if they hadn’t been addressed by name in the dialogue. Get it as a sample of René Hausman’s — a major European cartoonist’s – art style, in a rare example of his talking-animal art.

Fred Patten

La souris Pâquerette a disparu. Chlorophylle et Minimum comprennent très vite qu’elle a été enlevée par le terrible monstre du lac. Sans perdre un instant, les deux compères et leurs amis se lancent sur les traces de la créature. Mais la chasse au monstre leur réserve bien des surprises… René Hausman et Jean-Luc Cornette unissent leurs talents pour rendre un éblouissant hommage au héros culte de Raymond Macherot.

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