Gail – Phillipe Druillet (Titan HC edition)

2 out of 5

Look – if you want to draw sci-fi pinups, just do that; don’t make me read through some empty narrative just to go from start to finish.  Not only does it make it a chore to get through pages – when sequencing and eye direction is sacrificed to looks, and chunks of text are just representative shells of ideas – it also means that the splash pages that are tossed in every few beats, as impressive as they are, become questionable in terms of how they fit in to the story.

Yes, I’m addressing this to Phillipe Druillet some forty years after the fact for his Sloane outing ‘Gail,’ in which our stoic star finds himself on the titular prison planet, posited as a wildcard between two warring factions by a mysterious, in-the-shadow figure…

This is an acceptable setup, but there’s nothing of interest in how its formatted to a story: Druillet’s massive, techno-organic constructions are as detailed and psychedelic as ever, but they’re no longer woven in to a dreamlike storytelling that made it worthwhile to sit on each page and drink it in.  It’s just spaceships, and inscrutable figures speaking in overly ornate word bubbles about people and things that haven’t been given enough context to matter.  And then splash pages, printed sideways, ’cause this picture looks cool.

Titan’s over-sized, hardbacked printing is nice, but since you have to flip the book back and forth, it also means things are rather unwieldy…

If you admire Druillet for his art – which I have to believe is the main draw – his best executions of his style can be found in his other Sloane books.  With ‘Gail,’ Phillipe tries grounding things in a more “traditional” science fiction narrative, and it first and foremost bores, but also undermines the impact of some of the imagery.