Portrait of a Drunk (Ruppert & Mulot and Olivier Schrauwen, 2019)
If we humans like to think there’s an afterlife, it’s because we want to believe it’ll be more gratifying than this unfair, thankless life. We hope justice will be done on the other side, but what if it’s not? What if we’re all condemned to eternal hell because we read too many books, speak too much or wake up early every day?
In this graphic novel full of black humour, all the characters that mercilessly die by our anti-hero—the titular drunk—do not find solace in the afterlife, but quite the opposite as they are somehow condemned to watch how their killer keeps getting away with murder all the time.
Set in the 17th Century, Portrait of a Drunk is a cynical story that demystifies the image of pirates as intrepid adventurers. Readers (as well as his victims) will follow Guy, a lucky drunk buccaneer who uses, insults and kills anyone who gets in his way and survives this chaotic world mostly out of luck than wit and strength.
Written by French duo Ruppert & Dulot and superbly illustrated by Olivier Schrauwen, Portrait of a Drunk is a little too misanthropic for its own good with a cruel but coherent ending that might be considered pointless as well. The fact that Guy never changes throughout the whole book will possibly frustrate readers looking for a round character the same way it frustrated all of his victims who were looking for some kind of punishment.
If the afterlife is going to be meaner and grimmer than this one, then we might as well make the most of the day.