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Dixie RoadReview - Dixie Road
Volume 2
by Jean Dufaux and Hugues Labiano
NBM Publishing, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Dec 8th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 49)

Although this is a story of the American south in the early twentieth century, it was first published in France in 1997.  Although it has only 48 pages, Dixie Road tells a complicated tale of unrest among farm workers, corrupt police, bank robbing, family intrigue, and traveling photo-journalists.  Indeed, the plot is confusing, and it might take more than one reading to work out what is going on.  But that may not make much difference; what counts is the kinds of lives that the people there lived.  Presumably that’s why the comic brings in the historical figures of James Agee and Walker Evans, who are passing through town documenting life in rural Alabama.  The back of the book quotes Agee from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

“It is for the clothing, and for the food, and for the shelter, by these to sustain their lives, that they work.  Into this work and need, their minds, their spirits, and their strength are so steadily and intensely drawn that during such time as they are not at work life exists for them scarcely more clearly or in more appetite than it does for the more simply organized among the animals, and for the plants.”

The story of this comic does not however bear out this view: nearly all the characters seem to be involved in double-dealing, crime, or scheming.  The most pleasing part of this book is not the convoluted and compressed plot or the questionable historical insight, but the artwork.  Indeed, it might be improved by removing the speech bubbles and letting the reader enjoy the artwork on its own.  There’s a vigor to the detail and variety in each frame, and a psychological complexity in the faces that is not matched by the words they are given.  That’s to say, I’m far more impressed with Labiano’s art and Alluard’s coloring than Dufaux’s story.  The best scenes are the gothic nighttime depictions of subterfuge and violence, and the complicated interactions between individuals in images with many people; the art style would better fit a more fantastic narrative than this tale laden with gritty historical realism.  Browsing through the French Amazon books website, though, it seems that it's Dufaux who is the prolific one, while Labiano has worked on only a few comics. Still, I’m looking forward to the next installment of this drama.

Links
See the original French version at Amazon.fr
See NBM Publishing page for Dixie Road comics, with previews.

© 2001 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life. He is available to give talks on many philosophical or controversial issues in mental health.


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