Emma and Violette v1 cover detail

Emma and Violette v1: “One Dream for Three”

Writer: Jerome Hamon
Artist: Lena Sayaphoum
Colorist: Lena Sayaphoum
Lettering: Calix Ltd.
Translator: Jessie Aufiery
Published by: Dargaud/Europe Comics
Number of Pages: 49
Original Publication: 2017

Two sisters who love dance are divided by a dance school’s decision.  How much is the Dance Mom to blame?  And, hey, here’s a father in pop culture who’s not a complete doofus! He’s actually the cool guy.

One for the Kids

I need to give this one to my nine year old daughter, who spends most of her “free” time at dance school.  This comic feels custom made for her.

Emma dancers for her mother

Emma and Violette are sisters who dance ballet.  Their dream is to attend the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet School.  They’ve danced all their loves and can think of nothing else.

Violette is a purely technical ballerina, able to mimic every move the instructor gives her with precision.  Emma is very good, but adds a bit of her own personality to her dance.  In the ballet world, that is career suicide.

When Violette makes it through and Emma does not, the drama unfolds in multiple directions.  A sudden realization that life doesn’t always go according to plan worries everyone in the house.


A Turning Point In Life

This is perfectly appropriate for the 8 – 13 age range.  It’s not scary.  It’s not too threatening.  There’s nothing inappropriate, past maybe one “damn” that sticks out like a sore thumb in the book.

The whole story is about growing up and making decisions and relationships.  It’s the relationship between two sisters and their relationship to their mother.  The father winds up being the voice of reason in the book and moderating between the two when necessary.

Emma and Violette get the results from the dance company

On the day the invitations are posted, the looks on their faces say it all.

The story in this book centers on what happens when the dance school accepts Violette, but not Emma.  What do they do now?  Does Emma go to a “lesser” school?  Does Violette join her there?  Should Emma just give up?


When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

The story is all about what happens when you’re not as good as you had hoped or as your mother expects you to be.  When push comes to shove and you need to decide if you’re going to carry on with the one constant in your life, how do you even consider giving it up?  How do you make that decision when you’re so young, too?

Hamon sets up a lot of things here that get left behind, clearly setting up teases for stories to come.  For example, there’s a panel where Emma is trying not to eat too much because rehearsals are in three days, and I have to wonder if that’s setting something up for a future volume.

Jake makes a mix tape for Emma

Emma also has a boy who is a friend, Jake, whose relationship is still up in the air at the end of the book. She likes him more than he likes her, but they’re still friendly and flirtatious. He also likes hip hop and borrows her father’s music to make mix tapes.

After much drama and angst, some decisions are made and new directions are chosen.

The book also ends pretty quickly in the last couple pages.  It feels like a forced happily ever after.  What if they ran out of room and still needed to put things into place for the next album? That might explain it.


The Art of Sayaphoum

Are you familiar with Pascal Campion’s work?  He’s famous for having done a digital painting a day a few years back.  His paintings have recurring themes, but they’re done in dashes of color that pay more attention to the light of a scene than the minute details.  He doesn’t draw linework and then color it in.  He digitally paints.

His work reminds me a bunch of Sayaphoum’s.  It looks like she’s drawing everything in Illustrator, coloring it in in a similar style to Campion, and then dropping out the linework.  The final effect is that there are no black lines on the page.  Every character is constructed of colors and anything that might resemble a line is colored in to match the tone around it.

The backgrounds in Emma and Violette are often so bright that they drown out any detail and the person in the foreground

Where it goes a little too far for me, at least, is how much she also uses out of focus areas.  She’s blurring things in the computer that aren’t on the right plane, at times.  Also, sunlit hallways produce blown out backgrounds and windows behind the characters.  Backgrounds are effectively washed out because this family must live a mile away from the sun, and there are no clouds between the two.

And that’s another thing — there aren’t that many backgrounds in this comic, but then there’s a three dimensional CGI model of a building suddenly showing up.  For me, at least, it’s a mix that doesn’t quite work.


A Classic Case of “Your Mileage May Vary”

Again, that’s for me.  I’m more a traditionalist old fuddy duddy.  Give this book to someone in the right age range — say, a girl age 8 – 13 — and you’ll probably get a different response.

This art style is more like something they’d be familiar with from the children’s books they read growing up or the greeting cards they get on their birthdays.  They’re exposed to this style more, so they like it more.

Emma angsts out over her decision.

I’m not putting it down. It’s effective and it tells the story.  The characters act well and there’s no problem following the action.  From a purely aesthetic point of view, it’s not my thing.

Oh, and not to pile on, but I don’t like the lettering on this one, either. It feels like a comic book font in all the worst ways.  There are too many crossbar-I’s, as well. You can see one in the second word balloon in the previous art sample.

They seem to always happen at the beginning of a line, like the letterers are hitting the enter key between each line in the word balloon and it’s causing the spellcheck to automatically capitalize the first word of the line like it’s a new sentence.



Emma and Violette v1 cover

This book is a classic case of “not for me,” but that doesn’t make it bad. I’ll definitely give the next volume a try.  I’m curious to see where things go next for the two girls.  I think it has a distinct audience that will eat it up, if the two can come together somehow.

The second volume, coincidentally, just came out in France.  I’m sure an English language translation will follow in a few months…

— 2018.014 —


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  • Arcturus January 26, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Now I feel bad for hyping this book up every chance I got 🙁
    I liked it a lot more, but it’s definitely on the “my kind of story” part of the spectrum

    • Augie January 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      I liked it OK, but found it a bit “clunky.” It might be a translation issue, but a lot of it felt very spelled out to me and not very subtle. That’s the kind of stuff that works well for material aimed at a younger audience. Heck, I’ve been known to enjoy quite a lot of that kind of material, too. I’m not judging anyone. 😉 It just didn’t work as well for me here.


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