“Forgetting is necessary to our survival, just as fear is.”
A pharmaceutical testing center. Three human test subjects. Three pills a day for twenty-one days. And at the end, a check for 3,500 euros. Our three guinea pigs begin the test thinking they’re in it for the money. Three weeks later, they leave transformed. Have their dreams come true, or will their lives become living nightmares? (Goodreads)
As soon as I saw the title and cover I just knew I had to read this. It initially reminded me of Maniac that I recently saw on Netflix. As expected with any Europe Comics book, this one is full of awesome art! The establishing scenes are superb, with interesting and effective use of color schemes to differentiate time and places.
It’s about three random people signing up for a test run of a new breakthrough medicine that is supposed to solve all of humanity’s mental health problems. We begin a journey that takes a closer look at the pharmaceutical industry. It explores the issue of just how much of our medications really help us. It’s a question of research ethics—just when is it acceptable to sacrifice “guinea pigs” for the good of the greater population? How do we even quantify the pros and cons of results vs the side effects?
I love the unlikely friendship that was formed between the trio. All throughout the book you just know something big will happen, just not if it’s good or bad. I constantly worry about our main characters. That is how invested I was in the story. I can’t say the ending was what I expected, too. It’s overall a really great read with pleasant surprises.
Ultimately it’s a book on mental health. I love how it teaches us that inversing the symptom is not the automatic solution to any illness. We need to study, understand and embrace our fears and anxiety so we can function with them and not against. Escape is never the answer.
Big thanks to NetGalley and Europe Comics for providing a copy of this wonderful graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.
Overall Rating: 4/5
About the Creators
Born in 1961 in Choisy-le-Roi, just outside of Paris, Tonino Benacquista is an author with many faces: whether writing novels, plays, movie scripts, or comics, he consistently provides rich and surprising fictional worlds, finding the perfect balance between humor and depth. Of Italian origin, Benacquista has now become one of the most well-known and appreciated French authors of his generation, having received a number of prizes, and having the honor of working on such celebrated series as Lucky Luke, for which he co-wrote two volumes alongside Daniel Pennac. Beyond his extensive work as a film scriptwriter, Benacquista’s experience in the field of comics has included collaborations with such artists as Jacques Ferrandez (L’Outremangeur, Casterman, 1998), Olivier Berlion (Cœur tam-tam, Dargaud, 2003), Philippe Bertrand (L’Amour cash, Dargaud, 2008), Loustal (Les amours insolentes, Casterman, 2010), and Achdé, working together on Lucky Luke. Their two albums, Lucky Luke Versus the Pinkertons and Lone Riders (Lucky Comics, Cinebook in English), enjoyed both critical and commercial success. More recently, following a fruitful collaboration with Florence Cestac (Des salopes et des anges, Dargaud, 2011), Benacquista joined with artist Nicolas Barral to create Les Cobayes (Dargaud, 2014; Guinea Pigs, Europe Comics, 2018). Their collaboration continued in 2017 with Le Guide.
Nicolas Barral studied fine arts in Angoulême under Robert Gigi, alongside other future comics creators such as author Christophe Gibelin. After taking part in a contest for young talents, Barral was noticed by Christophe Delpierre, who invited him to become a contributor to the magazine Fluide Glacial. It was there that he would meet writer Pierre Veys, and together they would go on to collaborate on Baker Street (Delcourt) and Les aventures de Philip et Francis (Dargaud), two parody series allowing Barral to explore his humoristic side, developed over many years of absorbing such classics as Astérix and Lucky Luke. In 2008, Barral tried his hand at scriptwriting with the series Mon pépé est un fantôme (Dupuis), illustrated by Olivier TaDuc, before being asked to work on the series Nestor Burma (Casterman) with legendary author Jacques Tardi. In 2014, Barral joined up with writer Tonino Benacquista for a new project entitled Les Cobayes (Dargaud; Guinea Pigs, Europe Comics 2018), to be followed in 2017 by another graphic novel, Le Guide mondial des records (Dargaud; The World Record Book, Europe Comics 2018).
About Europe Comics
Europe Comics began as an idea of Franco-Belgian comics agent Mediatoon Licensing. Three years (and a lot of work) later, it evolved into a 13-partner pan-European alliance, supported by the European Commission and held together by the desire to spread the European graphic novel heritage around the world.
The ambitious 13 set themselves three main targets. First, the creation of a collective digital imprint, replicating European comics’ variety, richness and originality, in English and digital format. The Europe Comics catalog is meant for both the final reader and foreign publishers interested in licensing in English or other languages, and our titles are available around the world through an extensive network of e-tailers, book outlets, and libraries. Second, our initiative strives for greater international exposure of European authors, through author tours and events across Europe and the USA. And last but not least, we aim to create a comprehensive European comics online directory, providing readers and professionals with wide-ranging information such as the history of European comics, a global calendar of comics events, academic studies, market overviews and more.
Once the targets have been set, the only thing left is to achieve them. So here is the Europe Comics Partnership, which hopes to welcome new members on the way.
Visit their website here.
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