Kid Toussaint is a prolific modern day creator, writing a variety of books that are mostly aimed at younger (teenaged) readers. His “Telemachus” is an awful lot of fun for the way it takes mythology and humanizes it, makes it fun and fantastical, and puts a very attractive, manga-ish/animated style of art in front of it.
With “Love Love Love,” he’s following that format for a completely different type of story. It’s a love story between robot and human. Can it work? Will the world let it work?
Will a growing robot resistance cause more trouble than they could possibly overcome?
It’s a good one, and wait until I show you the art…
Writer: Kid Toussaint
Artist: Andrés Garrido
Colors: Andrés Garrido
Letterer: Cromatik Ltd.
Translator: Monstana Kane
Published by: Dupuis/Europe Comics
Number of Pages: 58
Original Publication: 2021
When A Woman Loves a Robot– er, Mecha
(Worth noting before we start: The two characters on the cover are not the main characters in this book. Or are they?)
I’ll let the copywriting geniuses at Europe Comics give you the overview on this book:
That’s a fair summary of the book. I put the ellipses there at the end because I cut out the last couple lines of their summary, which gets into a larger storyline I don’t want to mention just yet.
I wanted to focus up front on the main thrust of the series. This is all about Elle and Karel. Elle is introduced immediately on the first page of the series as she gets fired from her barista job. She’s hot-headed and not taking this lying down. She’s immediately plotting her revenge against the coffee shop via social media.
As we see more of her, we see that she’s carrying some anger. She’s aggressive and a rebel-rouser, but not entirely self-destructively. She manages to stop just short of that, most of the time. She’s immediately interesting and a character who you know won’t let the plot happen to her. She’s going to be active in her own story. Yay.
Meanwhile, Karel is a “cherish bot,” which means he gets paid to tell people what they want to hear. That, alone, is such a brilliant concept that they should do a whole spin-off book about those adventures. When he stumbles across Elle on the street after that barista firing, there’s something he finds about her that’s intriguing. And he’s nice enough as a bot that she starts to enjoy his company.
It’s a good “meet cute” followed by a dive into a relationship. But can it last? Is it built on a house of cards? What will society think of this arrangement? It’s such an odd couple kind of thing that shouldn’t work, but quickly does.
I really like how Toussaint brings the pair together and surrounds them with people and other robots who are there to both fight against them and protect them, given the situation. It adds a nice perspective in the book. This is a love story, but it’s a wild one set in a crazy future with a robot resistance.
Sorry, “robot” is a pejorative. They prefer “mecha” now.
The sci-fi concepts part of it feel very well thought through. Toussaint thinks past the immediate legislation and the line between humans and mechas, and thinks about the secondary effects of those decisions. Mechas are forced to live together in larger numbers than would be comfortable because, hey, they’re mechas. Who cares about their “comfort”? Mechas can’t take a “Schuber” (“Uber”) because they can walk just fine and would just be taking up resources getting a ride.
There’s signs of a growing resistance, though, coming not just from an underground league of mechs, but also from sympathetic humans.
You get both halves of the story with “Love Love Love,” and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much.
Beyond that, there’s a larger story going on with a mecha resistance. They’re getting more militant and the response is getting more violent. Things come to a head twice in this book, and the both have consequences for the relationship at the heart of this book and beyond. It feels like this is a series that will, as it develops, pivot into those larger societal issues before getting back to the heart of the series — Karel and Elle’s love.
I’m fine with that. Toussaint is doing everything right with this book so far. I look forward to seeing where he goes with this story next.
The thing that drove me to this book, though, was the art. Let’s get to that now:
The Art of Andrés Garrido
He’s brilliant. I love the look of this book.
He’s going for a classic hand drawn animation look here, but done digitally. It’s an interesting and very modern take on a retro robotic style done with a clean thin ink lines and a strong color scheme. This is not a book where the color does all the work, and the lines don’t matter. That can leads to some lifeless comics. (You might recognize the style from Justine Cunha’s work on “Through Lya’s Eyes,” for example. I liked it there, for the record, but it’s the first book of that style that came to mind.)
The coloring is a necessary part of the absorbing world that Garrido is creating in this book. It’s not literal at all. there’s not that much purple and pink in real life. It’s obviously a retro-futuristic world, looking more and more like something that came out of a candy-colored vision of the future 50 years old. The book even references Isaac Asimov’s Three Rules, so that fits right in.
Some scenes have particular color schemes, but not all of them. Garrido is able to jump around to whatever works best and looks best from beat to beat.
At its core, his art shows obvious signs of manga influence, but also a bit of the Mexican stylings of Humberto Ramos and Carlos Meglia. There are comically overgrown eyes and eyebrows. Characters are super expressive with big gestures to mirror their range of emotions.
There’s a touch of Rob Haynes’ style, for those who remember his work at Marvel twenty years ago. Everything is drawn with the same line weight, and the coloring fills everything in neatly.
Between those think ink lines and the way he knocks out the lines in the backgrounds, Garrido gives the book a very animated feel, like the characters are on cels layered on top of the background paintings. It’s not using a Photoshop blur filter to push the backgrounds back; it’s much more natural. (See Mark Waid/Ron Garney’s “Captain America” run back in the day for those blurs. Combined with the Whizbang font for the lettering, the look of that book hasn’t aged too well.)
The other side effect of this style is that Karel stands out in every panel with his solid black pants and black hair. Look carefully in the book and you’ll see that it’s about the only time there’s an area of solid black present anywhere. It helps him stand out a bunch.
The story is easy to follow. Garrido’s work is not just attractive, but also pleasantly clear. It’s mostly four panel tiers in the comic, but does sometimes squeeze in five or six. It’s a nice mix of angles, distances, and layouts.
Based on this book, alone, I’d follow Garrido to anything he does next. I hope he’s doing the second volume of this series next, though…
My Font Rant: STOP USING ACME SECRET AGENT ALREADY!
It’s not a bad font, but it carries a certain legacy to it. It’s a free font, so every bad webcomic for the last decade or more has been using it. It’s overused, and associated with inferior efforts.
It’s also not a personal favorite. It feels far too top heavy to me. Some letterforms scream of Whizbang, and nobody wants Whizbang today. It’s not that it’s a poorly-constructed font. The spacing works great, the character shape are consistent, etc. I just don’t like the way it looks, personally, and it keeps showing up.
The worst part of it is that the original French edition uses the font, too. It’s a travesty. Instead of using the free font, throw Blambot the $20 and get another font like “Eurocomic.“
A book this good looking deserves a font without all that baggage, and it should have a look more its own. I’ve seen a lot of fonts on other titles that wold work just as well in here.
On top of all that, we have some crossbar-I issues, too. sigh
Yes! This is, by far, my favorite book that Kid Toussaint has written. (I didn’t enjoy “Elle(s)” and, as much as I like “Telemachus,” there’s just so much going on in it that I get confused…)
It has the most interesting world and characters alongside the best art. Garrido is a real find, capable of telling a story well with a very modern art style that combines strong elements of animation and design. I look forward to a second volume.