Friday, July 13, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Afrika by Hermann

Hermann is a widely acclaimed author and illustrator of graphic novels from Belgium.

In Afrika he tells us the story of Dario Ferrer who lives and works in a wildlife reserve in Tanzania.

At the moment Dario is pretty angry because he’s just lost a rhino, and to make things even worse, an uninvited guest arrives; a young and kind of naïve journalist called Charlotte, who’s been sent there by a common acquaintance, Yan Lefort.

Right from the start Dario feels enraged by this woman who seems to think that she knows everything, while in fact she knows almost nothing about what goes on in the region. And as if that’s not enough she decides to show him how wrong he is in doing what he’s doing, since there’s always a better way.

What does he do? Well, he pays the poachers in their own currency. If he meets them he shoots them, if he finds them while hunting, he hunts them like the animals they intend to kill. He’s a hard-ass and doesn’t give a damn about what the people think about him.

Well, time will prove him right and sooner rather than later Charlotte will come to realize that corruption rules the day there, that poaching is an everyday brutal practice and that the local government officials are only interested in doing business with the foreigners.

In the end Dario is the only person that stands between the criminals and the elimination of a big part of the wild-animals kingdom. As the future will show, he’s also the only one that can save her life, as their by then common enemies, will sent a ruthless man after them to teach them a lesson; a final lesson.

Hermann delivers to the reader a somewhat short but beautifully written and illustrated story that sheds plenty of light on the grim subject at hand, but he also creates an unforgettable character. Dario has his set of values and beliefs for which he’s willing to fight and/or even die. He’s as hardcore as they come, but he’s no super-hero, he has his weaknesses, and it’s exactly those that make him look more human than most.

The author makes us believe in this hero and somehow he also manages to plant into our heads the idea that if people like him really existed someplace out there, this world would be a much better place to live in. Dario may be violent, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not fair, and in the end that’s all that counts.

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