In Review: Nine by Philipe Pelaez & Guénaël Grabowski

Review by Luke Williams

Nine by Philipe Pelaez & Guénaël Grabowski

The Graphic Novel: A mysterious planet at the edge of the solar system. An unexpected journey through time. For the brilliant young astronaut Johnny Hubbel, there is only one goal: saving his father. Inspired by the great cinematic space epics, writer Philippe Pelaez and artist Guénaël Grabowski team up here for an unforgettable adventure in the stars.

The Review: Although some of their catalogue has previously featured on downthetubes, Europe Comics is an unfamiliar publisher to this writer Like other publishers such as Cinebook, they take established European material, in this instance published by bande dessinée titan Dargaud and translate it for an English speaking audience, but operates only as a digital imprint.

Nine by Philipe Pelaez & Guénaël Grabowski

The cryptically entitled “Nine”, originally published in French as “Neuf”, of course, is a science fiction story. It opens with a marooned middle-aged astronaut and then cuts to a young boy, the lead character Johnny, watching his father depart the Earth as a shuttle astronaut, only for tragedy to strike. Undaunted, Johnny works hard to become an astronaut to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Haunted by the death of his father, but a naturally gifted pilot; Johnny moves quickly through the ranks of the air force and onto the space programme. Johnny’s career seemingly goes from strength to strength, the plot flits back and fore through his life, But Johnny appears to have ability to predict events and prevents harm coming to people he cares about, like he has seen these events before.

Nine by Philipe Pelaez & Guénaël Grabowski

Finally, he’s chosen for a special mission to travel to a planet in the solar system that only exists in theory, where he goes to meet his destiny.

The art on this graphic novel is lovely and fluid, the storytelling clear and layouts and camera angles are varied and imaginative, although some of the aircraft references are a bit off. The eerie atmosphere is enhanced by the discombulating hops between time periods. It’s reminiscent of the films Tenet and Interstellar, and, perhaps, influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nine fits nicely into the “weird timey wimey stuff” sub genre of science fiction. Suffice to say this is great work from creators to watch.

Nine by Philipe Pelaez & Guénaël Grabowski
Nine by Philipe Pelaez & Guénaël Grabowski

It’s encouraging that there is a healthy market for translated European comic albums. The European comics market is a seam that that has as much to mine as the American or Japanese.

Sadly, after seven years, Europe Comics ended all their consumer-facing activities (website, social media, newsletters, events) in January 2023, but promised to continue to release several books every month, so you are still be able to find new Europe Comics digital titles through your preferred online retailer.

Luke Williams

Nine is available here as a digital edition in English from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link) | Izneo |

Neuf is available in French here as a physical edition from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link) | ISBN 978-2505122593

Philipe Pelaez

Philippe Pelaez started out as a comics writer with Gaultier de Châlus, drawn by Olivier Giraud, published in 2015 by Des bulles dans l’océan. Two series followed thanks to successful crowdfunding: Olivier et Peter, drawn by Cinzia Di Felice, and Parallèle, drawn by Laval NG.

Guénaël Grabowski

Several stories have followed, one of the most recent being the acclaimed western series, Six, drawn by Javier Casado.

Guénaël Grabowski is a French comic artist whose credits include Nautilus, which he also wrote, published by Glenat, after previous projects sadly went unpublished.

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