Ekho volume 3 cover header

Ekho, v3: “Hollywood Boulevard”

Hooray for Hollywood

Fourmille and Yuri are on the left coast, looking to represent an acting talent out there who wants to build up her street cred in the theater district of New York City.  Unfortunately, Fourmille starts channeling that talent, who turns up dead in the swimming pool.  It’s a classic story of Hollywood’s star system, the press that feeds off it, and a renegade Preshaun.

Yes, a renegade Preshaun.  Just look at that smug face:

Ekho v3 renegade preshaun

It all puts a couple more pieces into place for the larger Preshaun puzzle that writer Christophe Arleston is building up to for volume 4.

It’s a fun volume with a sad yet sweet ending for Fourmille.  And there’s one kinda sorta major event for the on-going mythology that I can’t spoil.  sigh

 

The Formula Still Works

In my review of the second volume of “Ekho”, I laid out what I thought the formula was looking like for the series.  This one sticks to that formula.

I’m fine with that.

It’s a good formula.  It lets Christophe Arleston tell stories in different settings. He mixes up the situations and the characters, but lets the dramatic beats tell a strong story.

Establishing shot of Hollywood in the Ekho universe

Anything to give Barbucci a chance to draw a new city is fine by me.

This one has a little bit of the Preshaun mystery in it, but doesn’t focus on it nearly as much as the first two volumes did. Like I mentioned above, there is a “renegade” Preshaun in the book, and the topic of their machine that can help people forget thing comes back up again, but that’s about it.  We don’t get into the inner workings of their system.  The main plot of the book carries the day, and Arleston leaves plenty of room for Alessandro Barbucci to practice his craft in the most amazing ways.

The References

The Jurassic Park moment of Ekho

That water rippling in a cup moment of Jurassic Park will forever be its major contribution to cinema.

Arleston’s script contains a bunch of direct links to movies, as well.  In the big chase sequence of the book, for example, you get riffs on both Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. In the world of “Ekho,” you don’t need CGI for the dinosaurs, which is fun.

A big chunk of the story is also a take on the Marilyn Monroe/John F. Kennedy relationship.  In this case, it’s the Governor of California she sings Happy Birthday to in a very familiar white dress. (You can see that right on the cover.  And the beauty mark is appropriately positioned on her face, too.)  Oh, and because subtlety is not a strong suit, the character’s name is Norma Jean.

There’s even a certain school of wizardry in a panel.

A lot of this feels a bit like the classic Looney Tunes shorts or an Animaniacs cartoon where they do a bunch of Hollywood in-jokes, with lots of caricatures thrown in for kicks.  (Barbucci caricatures Quentin Tarantino in the book, for example.)

 

The Art of Barbucci

As well drawn as the first two volumes were, this one is especially strong in the character acting side of things. The characters in this book emote strongly and act out their actions and emotions in ways that sell the story.  This is where the book really starts to look like something a Disney animator would design.

Of all the books I’ve read and reviewed on this site this year, this is the most lavishly beautiful one. The is the series I flip through to soak up the art. I can lose myself on individual panels for long stretches at a time. It’s imaginative, well-executed, and highly detailed.

Barbucci pulls that all off while still drawing fully realized backgrounds and all the insane detail you’ve come to expect in this series.  Whether it’s just in the straps and the buckles of the clothes the characters are wearing, or all the fine detail in the window and the textures of the buildings in the background, Barbucci never takes the easy way out.

 

Ekho Goes Black and White

I’m not the only one who realized this, because they published a black and white edition of this book in France.  It’s an oversized companion to this book, but was only made in print for a limited edition. (I think it was 500 copies.)  A digital comic edition of it is available at Izneo, but not in North America, so I couldn’t tell you what the price is.  I’d love an “Artist’s Edition” of any book in this series…

The interesting thing I picked up from the preview pages of the black and white edition is that the book is shot directly from Barbucci’s super tight pencil work.  I don’t see ink on those pages, and the final product has the exact same line work. This explains some of the feel of the art better to me now.  What once felt like possible color holds in the art is really just a less dark pencil line from the artist not applying as much pressure to his pencil lines.

Black and white versus color artwork on Ekho

It’s all fascinating to see the original art because you’ll see how Barbucci works with his line weights.  He makes heavier, thicker lines on the outside of objects that are meant to pop off the page towards the reader.  That’s a classic trick, but it jumps out at you in the black and white versions of the pages.

 

Add in Some Colors…

Newspaper boy hawks his wares

It also helps how off how good the colors are in the series, because Barbucci’s pencils are super detailed. There’s a lot of work to color here, and a lot of work must go into separating the planes of each panel.  I can see how in lesser hands, coloring this book could become a complete mess.  But Nolwenn Lebreton does an amazing job with the art in this series.  He blends the color in with the pencils and keeps things tonally consistent.

Overall, the book has a very earth tone/orange feel to it.  The brighter colors are muted a bit so they don’t jump out too much in comparison to the rest of the images’ colors, which do fall in that earthen tone read.  It’s so consistent that the contrasting colors pop off beautifully when they’re supposed to.

Looking back at the book now, it looks to me like everything gets a default color of orange before Lebreton changes a few other colors in each panel.

I think it’s that time frame.  The Ekho world doesn’t have electricity, so any story told is going to feel like The Flintstones.  But unlike the previous couple of stories, this one feels like it was set in the far past, like 70 years in the past of Hollywood. The lower-tech supplies used to film movies is a dramatic element of that.  Poor beat-upon Yuri shows his intelligence in the book. He explain how movies work in a world without electricity. In return, Fourmille mocks and ignores him.

Recommended?

Yup.  Oh, yes.  If you’re new to the series, then definitely start at the first volume, but this one stand on its own just fine.  It could very easily be your first Ekho book.  You’ll miss a couple of small points, but it holds up well.

Ekho v3 Hollywood cover

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #62.)

2 Comments

  • John Farmer September 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

    That looks amazing. I’m going to collect it for my post-apocalyptic library.

    Reply
    • Augie September 4, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Excellent! Hope it hits as strongly for you as it did for me. Keep an eye on Comixology, too. This series has been on sale a couple times this year already. Might pop up on sale again there before the end of the year…

      Reply

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