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Comics Forge calls FALLEN ANGEL "engaging... sensual... a rare find"

Updated August 1, 2011

I liken the visual style of Fallen Angel to that of a kaleidoscope--we see colorful fragments of reality, all of which coalesce to form a particular picture, or series of pictures. The slightest movement, the most fragile repositioning, and the image is lost forever, replaced by a new, equally colorful and disjointed mosaic.

Each page of Fallen Angel is a kaleidoscopic vision of sorts. Writer/artist Nicolas Robel draws--rather, paints--a breathtaking sequence of irksome visuals paired ever so carefully, ever so peculiarly, with a phrase, an utterance, perhaps a short sentence or two.

It took all of two minutes to read this book, and another hour or so to reread it--each page, each interaction, each monologue, confuses further the book's potential meanings.

Fallen Angel is a young man's, perhaps an older boy's, internalized struggle to find meaning--and ultimately identity--in a world he understands naught, and which he is at a loss to describe, much less fit into.

Barnabe, our hero, seeks simplicity, relative comfort, and above all keen insight into himself. Armed with knowledge sought after but not found, he falls deeper and deeper into the quagmire of a full-blown existential crisis--suicide, murder, the destruction of the known world--these are fantasies made almost palpable for Barnabe, who cannot help but feel anger and resentment toward a world and society seemingly unwilling to embrace him, or at least help him find his way.

Through tormented dreams and tortuous hallucinations, Barnabe indeed does find something--what that something is, or rather its relative value, is of course determined not by Barnabe or his author but by the reader.

Illustrated fiction this engaging, this sensual, this overtly psychological, is a rare find. I highly recommend Fallen Angel to those brave enough, and clever enough, to read it.
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Featured artist

Nicolas Robel

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Fallen Angel

  PETITS LIVRES series spotlighted by The Edmonton Journal

Updated April 15, 2008

Small is beautiful
Tiny books with big ideas punch well above their weight
Gilbert A. Bouchard, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Saturday, April 12

The pile of brand-new releases from Montreal-based graphic-novel publishers Drawn and Quarterly is remarkably compact.
Stacked one on top of the other, the four titles from the recently inaugurated "Petits Livres" (French for small books) imprint -- a line of books promising "small-and-affordable" art books with a contemporary graphic/comic-art vibe -- are only three centimetres thick.
The smallest book in the lot -- Tom Horacek's All We Ever Do is Talk About Wood -- is a beautifully precious tome that's 12.5 centimetres square, and only half a centimetre thick.

Yet, while the books are small potatoes size-wise, they pack a huge wallop artistically, more than living up to their promise of being the new wave of art books for the post-graphic-novel era.
Gone are the days when fans of graphic/comic-book art would put up with badly printed comic books on bad pulp paper. Modern graphic-novel fans expect, nay demand, top-quality sequential-art books.
Hence the birth of imprints like Petits Livres. Boasting work by cutting-edge underground print artists/cartoonists like Chris Von Szombathy and Julie Morstad, the books are delightfully playful, chock-a-block with spectacularly realized drawings and graphics, as well as being beautiful in their physical production, paper quality and reproductive clarity.
More than just feeding into a newish hunger for high-end comic books, the imprint is also feeding into a centuries-old love of small tomes that you can comfortably hold in the palm of your hands (or even the palm of one hand).
A surprisingly large number of tiny tomes are being released both by graphic-novel and mini-comic-book publishers as well as mainstream publishing houses.
This trend feeds into a western love of small books that goes back to the Middle Ages, a period that saw huge illustrated manuscripts with wooded, jewel-encrusted covers that permanently sat on their own lecterns, as well as smaller-than-small prayer books, breviaries, books of hours, and poetry texts.
Obviously, these small books -- especially the tiny sacred books -- had a practical side (i.e., a prayer book that's portable allows owners to pray wherever they may find themselves), but they also played other esthetic, cultural and even fetish-object functions.
According to Joan Greer, an art historian with the University of Alberta, little books (small, highly personal, highly tactile tomes) throughout history have allowed individuals to explore the contradictory public/private nature of the book.
"Book designers in the 19th century called books 'pocket cathedrals,' acknowledging the reality that a book was a small public space were community happened, the exchange of ideas and beliefs that was both private and public at the same time," she says.
"Your book connects you to a larger world, but does so in your own space. This makes the book both artistically beautiful as well as community-building."
Greer says the tiny book also represents the height of the tactile relationship many book owners have with their volumes.
"When most people think of a 'book,' they are thinking about the content of the book, but what we also need to think about when we're thinking of the idea of the book is its physicality, its materiality," she explains. "That includes the feel of the book, the esthetic pleasure you get from the book as well as the knowledge contained in the volume. The look of the book is as much a 'sign' as the books themselves, and the design of the book is active and really pushes things."
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Featured artists

Nicolas Robel
Julie Morstad
Tom Horacek

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Milk Teeth
All We Ever Do Is Talk About Wood

JOSEPH reviewed by Comics Reporter

Updated October 18, 2007

Creator: Nicolas Robel
Publishing Information: Drawn & Quarterly, Petits Livres, soft cover, 64 pages, September 2007, $9.95

This is a lovely little comic, a short foray into a child's memories and concerns that may pierce into your heart for the specificity of memories it recalls and the general underpinnings in regards to present-day sadnesses it invokes. A small boy with oversized hands, or at least imagined-to-be-oversized hands, longs for a caring father and a supportive group of friends and some level of competency in the activities he pursue. He doesn't achieve many of his goals, and the victories he does enjoy are short-lived. The factors lifting this out of a lifeless mopefest are the quality of Robel's visual imagination (the book looks nice), the way in which perspectives careen all over the map but always manage to convey mood or story in doing so, and the sense of humor that informs the bleak themes -- the book ends on a physical gag, of all things.

If there's anything to complain about it with Joseph it might be that the strongest moments are individual ones, set pieces found within the narrative rather than a more significant and last effect wrought by the story entire. I know that my memory fails when I try to recall the story's sweep, but scenes where the kid wreaks (what one would guess to be) imaginary havoc on a playground, and a touching panel where he embraces a tree, those will linger. Others may point to price point slightly out of current favor, an admission cost that doesn't seem as fair in a time when twice the money buys you a hardcover of three times the thickness, and half the money snares you a similarly formatted book from a lot of other publishers. I think it's the former that worries me more than the latter -- consumer math only takes you so far when it's art and not appliances you're buying. I'd pay this much every time if it guaranteed a book this good, and if it found narrative cohesion to match its high points I'd pay any price you could name.
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Featured artist

Nicolas Robel

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  SHOWCASE 4 and FALLEN ANGEL in Punk Planet

Updated May 25, 2007

March and April 2007
click here to download the PDF (420.37 KB)

Featured artists

The D&Q Showcase Series
Nicolas Robel

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Drawn & Quarterly Showcase: Book Four
Fallen Angel

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