Britten and Brülightly by Hannah Berry is a noir graphic novel. I haven’t read many graphic novels, but this one seems to be outstanding. Most of them look like superhero comic books to me.
Britten is a depressed detective whose partner is a tea bag (I can’t believe I just got the pun of his name! I am so dense sometimes!) who makes humorous comments from inside the pocket of Britten’s (of course) trench coat. Britten takes a case from Charlotte Maughton, who doesn’t believe her fiancé, Berni Kudos, committed suicide. She is convinced he was actually murdered. Britten begins investigating Kudos’s job at Maughton Publishing, because Charlotte thinks Kudos’s death might be connected to a blackmailing scheme aimed at her father. During the investigation, he begins to uncover family secrets.
Although I became confused by the plethora of characters, I was impressed by the drawings, which are detailed and gorgeous. I am no expert on art, but I think they are stunning. To match with the noir theme, they look like watercolors in shades of gray with muted, subtle touches of color.
Reading this book made me more interested in exploring graphic novels, but so far I haven’t seen anything that looked as interesting. Two other highly lauded graphic novels, Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, and Maus, by Art Spiegelman, have compelling themes but much more primitive drawings (in the case of Maus, I couldn’t tell one character of a certain type from another), and I was attracted to Berry’s book mostly by the beautiful art and witty dialogue. Unfortunately, Berry doesn’t seem to have published anything else yet.