In Review: Grandville L’Integrale by Bryan Talbot

Grandville L’Intégrale collects all five brilliant Grandville graphic novels in one deluxe hardcover volume, introduced by Ian Rankin, accompanied by voluminous author notes never before in print.

Grandville L'Integrale - Cover

Review by John Freeman

For those who came in late, Grandville is a stunning, Hugo Award-nominated British graphic novel series written and drawn by Bryan Talbot. A mixture of steampunk, alternative history and thriller genres, it’s set in a world in which France won the Napoleonic Wars and invaded Britain, and in which the world is populated mostly by anthropomorphic animals. The main character is Detective Inspector Archibald “Archie” LeBrock of Scotland Yard, a British anthropomorphic badger.

Yes, a badger. Hooked yet? You should be.

Of course, fans of Bryan Talbot’s work, be it Luther Arkwright, a new story on its way in 2022, The Tale of One Bad Rat, or the work created in partnership with his wife, Mary, and other artists, will already know about Grandville, and may well be wondering, “I’ve already bought the single volumes, do I really need this collected edition? How is this edition different to those that have gone before?”

Well, in terms of the story, not a lot. Bryan tells me that he did go through all five incredible adventures, fixing typos, but changed very little of the art, tweaking a face or two on around three panels.

Grandville L'Integrale - Sample Art

But for those of you who haven’t yet read Grandville – a sprawling, action-packed adventure from start to finish, crammed with great characters, good and bad, all against the backdrop of an incredibly detailed steampunk setting – then what better way to do it than to have them all in one place, a beautiful hardback compendium on sale at the bargain price from most stores?

Plus, there’s the added bonus of Bryan’s annotations on the stories, outlining some of the background to how he created a page, background “blink and you’ll miss them” characters, affectionate tributes to comics and comic creators (Leo Baxendale, for one) – and, hopefully the notes may provide inspiration for you to head off and do some further reading.

Grandville L'Integrale - Sample Art
Grandville L'Integrale - Sample Art
Grandville L'Integrale - Sample Art

Should you buy Grandville L’Integrale if you have read the individual volumes? Well, I’m sure Bryan Talbot completists will have already answered that question and have already ordered a copy, from their favourite book or comic shop, physical or digital. For me, the delight in re-reading the stories in one place was very much a welcome re-immersion into this richly-textured imaginary world, and I really enjoyed all five adventures all over again. Not only is the story fantastic, but the background, the richness of the world of Grandville is something very much appreciated, and that appreciation is only enhanced thanks a collection such as this.

I do hope I’ve convinced you to buy a copy of L’Integrale – but if you need further encouragement, I’ve taken the step of giving you a short video walkthrough of the book, too. My enthusiasm for this project is perhaps even more evident!

For those of you who have enjoyed Grandville thus far, however you’ve read it, then you may like to know that although busy completing the new Luther Arkwright story, Bryan is also currently plotting a Grandville prequel, set 23 years before in the last couple of the French occupation. Called “The Casebook of Stamford Hawksmoor”, he tells me it will be very different in style and tone to the Grandville books.

Before he draws it, he has to to finish Arkwright, then Mary Talbot’s next book – but I’m sure that if you are a fan, you’ll be delighted to hear this news!

John Freeman

My thanks to Bryan and Jonathan Cape for providing a copy of Grandville L’Integrale for review

Pre-order Grandville L’Intégrale from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Grandville: L’Intégrale can also be pre-ordered from the Penguin site

The Dark Horse American edition has a different cover, designed to match their Arkwright Integral hardback edition

More details including how to order over at www.bryan-talbot.com

The Stories

Grandville by Bryan Talbot

Grandville
Available as a standalone volume (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

In Grandville, the first volume in the series, Bryan Talbot brings us a steampunk masterpiece. IIt tells the story of detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard as he stalks a gang of murderers through the heart of Belle Epoque Paris. In this alternative reality, France is the major world power and its capital throngs with steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons and flying machines. The characters are mostly animals, though there is an underclass of humans, often referred to as ‘dough faces’.

Following the murder of British diplomat Raymond Leigh-Otter, LeBrock and Ratzi travel to Paris in order to find the killer, uncover a political conspiracy…

Grandville Mon Amour
Also available as a standalone volume (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

Grandville Mon Amour UK

The Badger is back! Set three weeks after the finale of GrandvilleGrandville Mon Amour pits Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock of Scotland Yard against an old adversary and ruthless urban guerrilla, Edward ‘Mad Dog’ Mastock, – a psychotic serial killer whose shocking escape from his execution by guillotine at the Tower of London begins this fast-paced, Hitchcockian steampunk thriller. 

Grandville – Bête Noire

Grandville Bête Noire
Also available as a standalone volume (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

At Toad Hall, lair of multibillionaire Baron Aristotle Krapaud, a cabal of industrialists and fat cats plot the violent overthrow of the French state. Meanwhile, the brutal murder of a famous Parisian artist is subject to the investigations of the tenacious Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard, placing him and his faithful adjunct, Detective Sergeant Roderick Ratzi, in pursuit of the mysterious masked assassin stalking the cut-throat commercial world of the Grandville art scene. 

As the body count mounts and events spiral exponentially out of control, aided by his brilliant deductive abilities and innate ferocity, LeBrock battles against outrageous odds…

Grandville: Noel Cover
Art © Bryan Talbot

Grandville – Nöel
Also available as a standalone volume (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard again returns to Grandville. This time, he is following the trail of his housekeeper’s 16-year-old niece, who has run away from home to join a religious cult. The cult leaders, a unicorn messiah and his con-men cronies, are already responsible for mass murder in the United States; they now have their sights set on a takeover of political power in France…

Grandville: Force Majeure - Orbital Comics Signing Poster

Grandville: Force Majeure
Also available as a standalone volume (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

In the middle of a gang war, wanted for murder, truly alone and outside the law, Detective Inspector LeBrock is on the run from both the police and gangster assassins, the victim of a diabolical scheme to annihilate himself and everyone he holds dear, engineered by mastermind crime lord Tiberius Koenig, one of the most despicable villains in the history of detective fiction.

Pre-order Grandville L’Intégrale from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Grandville: L’Intégrale can also be pre-ordered from the Penguin site

The Dark Horse American edition has a different cover, designed to match their Arkwright Integral hardback edition

More details including how to order over at www.bryan-talbot.com

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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