Spirou & Fantasio 19: The Visitor From The Mesozoic

By Franquin
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781800440661

As the little disclaimer states at the beginning of this book, this story was written 60 years ago. Consequently, what we now know about dinosaurs and the era they lived in is very different to the narrative liberties taken here. In some respects, they’re no worse than Spielberg upscaling Velociraptors to make them scarier, leaving their feathers off, or making Dilophosaurs spit. So you’re not likely to have a problem with it.

But this can’t help but underline the fact that this story is six decades old. And what’s remarkable, is that it’s as fresh, witty and vibrant as it was back then. The absurdist humour, the ludicrous destruction, and the bizarre situations are all firmly rooted in Franquin’s gifted visual storytelling. It rattles along in a highly satisfying manner as the situation becomes increasingly out of control – perfection.

It starts out with the Count of Champignac discovering a dinosaur egg and inviting a host of fellow boffins over to study the marvel. Their intent is to artificially increase its growth which, of course, goes wrong, and brings the dinosaur to full size overnight. Too large to contain, it stomps off toward the town and all hell breaks loose.

In a strangely sinister scene, one of the Count’s fellow scientists meets the fate of Jurassic Park’s lawyer. It’s an eyebrow-raising moment that just gets shrugged off – and just may be the darkest Franquin has got in these books to date. I loved it.

There’s a short back-up strip where the Count manages to drink something he shouldn’t and becomes a complete menace. It’s a swift, concise and amusing tale that can’t help be overshadowed by what comes before it, but what it certainly isn’t is filler.

Cinebook’s Spirou and Fantasio publishing strategy continues to be one the jewels in their crown, and a reminder just how brilliant cartooning excellence can be.

And if you liked that: More Spirou and Fantasio is promised!

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