“Spirou” and “Tintin” magazines were the Marvel and DC of the Belgian comic book world; it wasn’t quite the Crips and the Bloods, no one HAD to choose sides, but there was a rivalry that could turn chilly. “Tintin” had Herge and “Blake and Mortimer” and “Clifton” ; “Spirou” had “The Smurfs,” “The Bluecoats,” and Roger Leloup’s “Yoko Tsuno.”
I’ve tried the first few volumes of Cinebook’s translations of Leloup’s work. If you know a girl ages 12-16 who’s fruitlessly flipping through comics for the sole purpose of finding role models, you need to give them a copy of a Yoko Tsuno album ASAP. They’ll love it, and they’ll be slightly less enraged at the patriarchy as they grow up, I hope. Yoko is female, Asian, an engineer, a detective, a martial artist, competent to the point of absurdity; the stories tend to employ science well, even when aliens drop in; the jargon is practically educational; the plots are so convoluted few teens will guess where it’s going to end. Heck, a couple of these surprised me too.
It’s not all positive. Leloup loves architecture more than he loves the human face: his cities look lovely and his characters blah. The translated jokes are stilted. The grid-like panel arrangement can get boring. Practically all comics were guilty of this before people like Jack Kirby and Will Eisner kicked down the panel walls, but ligne clair artistry makes it even more obvious. It shows its age, in other words.
Still, if I encountered Yoko Tsuno at a comic book store, and I had a daughter, I would run home, bags loaded with the entire collection. Wonder Woman is silly: no girl can grow up to be that. But they CAN grow up to be an engineer, a scientist, an inquiring mind. Yoko Tsuno might just show them the way.
RATING : GOOD ENOUGH for adults, VERY COOL! if you’re in the demographic