Protests! Outrage! Stick it to the man! And a long-awaited family reunion.
Yup, this is a book made for today.
Artist: Paul Cauuet
Letterer: Cromatik Ltd.
Translator: Montana Kane
Published by: Europe Comics/Dargaud
Number of Pages: 59
Original Publication: 2018
Even More Political Than Usual
“The Old Geezers” is a very political book, in its own way. The three old friends bonded over 60s union activism, to start.
Pierre, in particular, stars in every book with a new crazy protest plot designed for minimal destruction and maximum nuisance and press coverage. His exploits are entertaining and, in their own way, charmingly funny.
Milsey and Antoine are a little less politically inclined in their old age, but are supportive.
Most of the humor comes from the trope of old man union activist who is ultimately colorful, but harmless. It references the concerns of today, for sure, but isn’t reacting to any one thing in particular. Union activism is a century old, after all, and unions are at an all time low when it comes to their power and influence these days.
This book, though, jumps right into the most current political frays, as Pierre is involved in a plot to hide refugees and one character has an awakening directly related to detained refugees. It’s stuff that’s stripped straight out of today’s headlines, including one page that’s filled with headlines about a fictitious situation, but one which will sound familiar to everyone who’s seen any news report in the last couple of years.
Lupano is not trying to hide his influences in this book, which are usually so generic that they apply across a wider time frame. This book is a very direct response to issues of today, which is usually tough to do with something like comics; by the time a comic is drawn, colored, and lettered, things can move on. Our news cycles feature short windows these days.
Some issues, though, linger on…
There’s probably a commentary on modern politics here that these events didn’t fall out of the mindshare between the time he wrote this script and the time it saw print.
Lupano blends it all in naturally with the characters and the general tone of the book. While it all sticks out as so obviously a response to specific things, it’s also all done through the lens of the characters we’ve come to know and love in “The Old Geezers.” Pierre is a crotchety old dude, but with a heart of gold and a sense of responsibility that often gets hidden. Milsey has an awakening in this book that leads to some wild actions, but it all ties back to things from his past we’ve learned in previous volumes.
Antoine has the least specifically political moment in the book, as he has to deal with the sudden arrival of his estranged son. Let’s take a look at that now.
Not As Surprising As Originally Thought
This one is my fault. Having read the five books over the course of the past year, I didn’t remember every last detail from books past. For some reason, I was thinking Sophie was Antoine’s daughter. If I had stopped to think about it for a second, I would have realized that that didn’t make too much sense. The age difference is just too great and Antoine doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to have had a wife 20 years younger than him.
In fact, it’s laid out in the very first book of the series, which I recently re-read. Sophie’s father is Antoine’s son, Bernard. Bernard didn’t show up for his mother’s funeral at the beginning of the first book, in part because he disagreed with her decision to be cremated.
The other part, no doubt, was a conflict of personalities with his father.
In volume 5, Sophie embarks on two missions. The first is to get her father and grandfather to reconcile, so she puts them both in charge of babysitting Juliette. Sparks, naturally, fly. It’s two stubborn guys with completely different parenting styles and attitudes trying to watch over one baby — and not doing too well.
It’s a funny clash of personalities, which Lupano handles well. Antoine acts exactly as you’d expect him to, and Bernard turns out to be just as big a jerk as you might have imagined given the events referenced in the first book.
But each still have their redeeming qualities, so read the book to look for those.
Paul Cauuet Hasn’t Missed a Step
Book after book, Caueet draws impossible situations and barely-mobile old men with the same level of energy and enthusiasm that you’d expect to see from an action-adventure cartoonist.
From book to book, as the situations get crazier and, at the same time, more average, he gives just as much detail to it all. There are scenes in this book set in train stations and police stations and the stair wells of apartment buildings. They’re all magnificently drawn from all sorts of angles, none of which are cheats. None are conveniently chosen to save any drawing time. It’s all there on the page.
This page, for one example, zooms in on three main characters as we move through the three panels. But the camera is in a different place with each panel. It’s not a static shot that gets closer and closer. It’s an overhead distant show, then a lower shot at a bit of a Dutch Angle, followed by the close-up on Juliette, to show how happy she is and how little she’s paying attention to the grumpy old men who are dragging her along with them.
After that, the next panel is a super wide shot of everyone walking down the stairs, followed by a medium eye-level shot, a distant low angle, and a reverse low angle shot that’s a little bit tilted again.
Cauuet is a great draftsman who can draw interesting people in a variety of styles, but he’s also a strong storyteller who never lets up on the page. Every panel is worth looking at. Every one draws your attention, and fits in with the story. There are very few close-ups in the book, and they’re only used to isolate a strong conversation point from an otherwise busy setting.
And if he’s using Sketch-Up to help with the backgrounds, I can’t tell. He adds enough of his own character, lifework, and texturing to help cover that up.
Look at this panel for a good example of it. I love what he does with the shadows and the little hash marks to indicate texture on the couch and the ceilings. He also adds enough busy little details like the books everywhere to give an indication of messiness.
Yes, of course. As usual, read the first four books first. This book has a few quick moments to catch up with various characters, and calls back to previous stories. But it stands alone as a great story, particularly for Milsey, who has a big moment in this book that’ll make you stand up and cheer for him, while laughing out loud.
— 2019.048 —