Comic Shots #25 with Ali Colluccio: Bordeaux and ‘Three Shadows’

Each week the iFanStaff passes along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail (or beer, or wine, or booze) and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.


 

After a bit of a bender, we’re back! And this week, we’re going to talk about wine! Wait… where are you going? Come back! Wine can be fun — I promise!

The trick with wine, like beer, is finding the wine for you. It’s also about branching out beyond the mass market Merlots and Chardonnays to discover the palettes you like best. Looking for something crisp and clean? Try a Pinot Gris. Like something with more of a dark and smoky flavor? Pick up a barrel-aged Brunello. Want something to sip while you relax with a good book? There’s a wine for that. You can pair a wine with just about anything. And today, I’m pairing the graphic novel Three Shadows with a lovely Bordeaux.

One of the first lines in Cyril Pedrosa’s graphic novel is “The taste of cherries, the cool shade, the fresh smell of the river…” — if that doesn’t demand to be paired with a wine than I don’t know what does. The book also has a distinctly European style that, to me, is reminiscent of the South of France. It’s also a book full of bittersweet emotion that’s equally dark and whimsical.

From the moment I opened Three Shadows, I was already pairing it with a French wine. By page 40 I knew it was a Bordeaux.

Like Rob Lowe says in Wayne’s World, “Actually all champagne is French; it’s named after the region.” Bordeaux is not named for the grape it’s made from (like the majority of non-European wines), but for the region it comes from. The wine is a blend of a variety of grapes found in Bordeaux, usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It’s known for it’s dark red color and it’s surprisingly light cherry/blackberry flavor.

I like Bordeaux because it’s a dry red that doesn’t smell (or taste) like stinky feet. And if you pour Bordeaux (or any red wine, really) into a glass and let it breathe for a few minutes; it really mellows out the tannins that give it a harsher flavor (or as Mister Carson  says, “to dancant the wine”) . Bordeaux are pretty easy to come by, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find one in your local wine and spirits shop. They’re also affordable, with some decent blends costing about $15. For Three Shadows, I was drinking Chateau Recougne Bordeaux Superieur from 2008 because it was in my local store and had a nice label. Sometimes that’s all you need to pick out a wine.

Three Shadows

Written and drawn by Cyril Pedrosa
Published by First Second
268 pages / Black and white / $16.95

“Look at this. Isn’t it completely different from any comic you’ve ever seen?”

That’s what the Reverend Paul Montgomery said to me when he lent me Cyril Pedrosa’s stunning graphic novel. And he could not have been more right. Three Shadows looks more like a European animated film than a comic. The stylized cartooning sweeps you up and engulfs you in it’s rich story.

Three Shadows is the tale of young Joachim and the lengths his family will go to protect him from three haunting shadows. It’s a story full of love and adventure, and those are my favorite kinds of stories. But for all the wonder and whimsey in Three Shadows, there’s also something dark and menacing just below the surface. As a storyteller, Pedrosa balances these opposite tones masterfully, knowing exactly how and when to introduce a hint of foreboding.

I don’t want to sell the narrative of this book short, but the real star is the artwork. It isn’t any surprise that Pedrosa started his career as an animator with Disney. He expertly moves his camera, giving Three Shadows a truly cinematic feel. I didn’t read this story, I watched it. There’s also something very special about Pedrosa’s layouts. They’re not the mind-melting double-page spreads of J.H. William’s Batwoman, but they are equally compelling and drive the story in a very natural way. There’s a short scene in the story told from the point of view of the Shadows that done in a more traditional six-panel grid. It was the only time I felt like I was pulled out of the story, and it’s by only criticism of the book as a whole.

Pedrosa’s simple, sweeping brush strokes invite you in to this wonderfully strange fairy tale. His compositions, facial expressions, and use of light and dark all come together in beautiful harmony to evoke the right amount of emotion from his readers. He has an effortless style that perfectly complements the warm, comforting draw of the book. And it sets you up perfectly to be heartbroken when the moment arises. Like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County, Three Shadows is quietly beautiful and full of emotion. It’s not to be missed.

 


Ali Colluccio enjoys comics, cocktails, and curling. You can follow her on Twitter and suggest a cocktail or comic of your own, because good drinks and good comics should be shared.

Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy comics that make you happy and spread the love.

Comments

  1. I absolutely love this book. It was one of the first graphic novels I bought after reading about it on BoingBoing and it has been in my Top 10 favorite OGNs ever since. I particularly like that :01 handled the book perfectly, especially the cover and the paper are spot on. My copy actually does not have a clean cut on the right edge of the pages, but appears to be ripped. I guess that is a production error, but it fits the book nicely and I actually thought it was on purpose at first. As to the wine, I don’t drink, so, no idea.

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      That’s called a “deckle edge.” It’s an intentional design choice seen more often in prose novels these days. It’s meant to make the book look and feel like an old world artifact with rough edges. Gives the book a little bit of texture.

      So, no production error there. I agree that it fits this particular book quite well.

    • Nice! I thought it was, as the copies I saw in stores did not have that deckle edge. Weird, I guess those were production errors then.

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      Or they produced them both ways. 😉

      I just don’t think there’s reason to accuse First Second of any production errors when it’s probably a question of different editions.

  2. Bordeaux sounds perfect to read with. I think I’ll get some tomorrow.

  3. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Glad you liked this one, Ali! This is one of those books that should be way more popular than it is. It’s stunning from front to back.

  4. Just put it on hold at my library and will be getting some Bordeaux this weekend.