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Popes in cartoon heroes

Leo the Great. Challenge Attila
from France Richemond and Stefano Carloni
Glénat-Cerf, 56 p., € 14.95

Since Saint Peter's day, the Catholic Church has had 266 popes at its head. So many extraordinary destinies that have often influenced the course of history. It is these exceptional destinies that the collection of comics "A Pope in History" wants to rediscover, the first two volumes of which appear on Wednesday, April 10th.

For this, Éditions Glénat, heavyweight of the French comics, join forces with the Christian house of Cerf. The approach is not new for Glénat, which occupies largely the niche of historical comics and has already partnered with Fayard for the edition of the series river (31 volumes released) "They made history," on the life of great historical figures.

One of these first two albums is consecrated, logically, to Saint Peter, the other to Leo the Great, Pope of the Ve century that dissuaded Attila from sacking Rome. But the successive publications will not follow chronological order: the next two volumes, planned for Christmas, will be dedicated to Pope Borgia Alexander VI and John Paul II.

In order to vary the styles, each album is entrusted to a different writer-cartoonist duo. However, the realistic drawing will be a constant. In this style which, inevitably, is not the place of great originality, the two designers bring a distinct paw to the story. To draw the martyrdom of St. Peter, Marc Jailloux is comfortable with close-ups, details, faces. A style adapted to an intimate story, interspersed with backtracking on the years spent with Christ. While Stefano Carloni, who draws the life of Leo the Great, has more control over the sets and movements, which serves a much more epic saga, against a backdrop of barbarian invasions and the fall of the Western Roman Empire. To enter this story, however, it will be necessary to go through first pages enough school, where not credible dialogues serve as a pretext to plant the historical context.

Sponsored by Bernard Lecomte, former journalist at The cross and specialist in religious history, and recommended by the journal Historia, the collection gives evidence of serious history. Each album ends with an eight-page documentary book. Ambitious, the two publishing houses already announce four additional volumes for 2020, on as many popes: Clement V, Pius XII, Urban II and Pius VII.

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