Self Made Hero, a publisher that continues to push the boundaries of what graphic novels can be, releases another winner with evocative, beautifully rich book. REBETIKO, named after a style of music in Greece (“the Greek blues”), is immediately captivating with its sun-kissed yellow hues and sparse black lines delineating a time and a place almost forgotten in the modern world.
In Greece in the mid-1930s, a young and rather mischievous rebate --- a musician who plays rebetiko --- named Stavros is forced to evade the authorities who have come to crack down on this style of music and the lifestyle that accompanies it. Seen as scoundrels, dregs, or worse, the rebetes are on the run as they try to make a living playing their music, a blend of music reminiscent of folk and blues and jazz that elicits a powerful response in the listener, who is often moved to dance in a trancelike state.
Writer and illustrator David Prudhomme was awarded the “best graphic of 2010” by Lire in his home country of France, and here the book is nicely translated into English by Nora Mahony, who has also translated graphic works by David B., among others.
Get lost for a while in the world of REBETIKO. The reading experience is made even more enjoyable by tracking down some examples of the music and creating your own soundtrack.
Reviewed by John Hogan on September 12, 2013