Rutu Modan, 232 pgs, Drawn & Quarterly, drawnandquarterly.com, $24.95 CAN/US
Love, loss and regret are all parts of life and all central to The Property, the newest graphic novel by Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan (Exit Wounds).
The heart of the story focuses on Regina Segal, an elderly woman returning to her homeland of Poland for the first time since shortly before WWII. The daughter of a wealthy factory owner, Regina was sent away to Palestine as a teen to avoid family scandal when she became pregnant with the child of a non-Jew out of wedlock. Thus, she was spared the horrors of the Holocaust. Upon the death of her son, she and her granddaughter Mica travel to Warsaw to inquire about and possibly reclaim a property that belonged to her family. While there, Mica discovers much of her family’s hidden past, becomes quite friendly with a Polish guide named Tomasz and tries her best to evade Avram, a boorish, nosy family friend who’s intent on claiming the property for Regina’s daughter, who happens to be his fiancée. Regina reluctantly has to come to grips with being in a city that houses nothing more than the ghosts of her past and all the regrets that come with the unexpected reunion with her son’s father.
Filled with great dialogue, beautiful art and many hilarious sequences ,The Property is a book of immense quality that is both touching and entertaining. Modan’s characters, all based upon the likenesses of real people, are presented in a Hergé-esque clean line style that’s tightly rendered but not averse to letting the characters loosen up and exaggerate their facial expressions when needed. Coupled with the extensive colour palette and busy backgrounds reminiscent of animation cels, The Property is one of the best-looking books in recent years and another strong addition to Modan’s top-quality body of work. (Matthew Daley)