Pascal Rabaté’s magnificent graphic novel Loose Lips invites you to break open a bottle of red wine and relax in a comfy chair while you get to know the good but rather gossipy people of Restigné – a quiet provincial town in France where the tittle-tattle can hurt as much as an excess of the wine that flows from the ubiquitous vineyards.
It’s a little weird that Pascal Rabaté, a wunderkind of the French comic scene, has never shown up before in this column. It’s therefore fitting that Loose Lips (or Un Ver dans le Fruit) is his first appearance here, as it’s a re-issue of a album released in the 1990s, before his breakthough Ibicus series.
Pierre Ferra is a young priest who grabs the opportunity to become a pastor in the Loire region, not only to follow his vocation but also to escape from his overbearing mother. However, Restigné is plagued by two things: the rivalry between two wine plantations and an unrelenting need to gossip. When the most important wine farmer dies mysteriously the gossip truly explodes, and Ferra comes to know the dangers of confession and meddling in another’s affairs.
All of this might make it sound as if Loose Lips is a very action-oriented OGN, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The book already shows the making of a superb storyteller, who takes his time telling a rather subdued story with a lot of innuendo and hearsay.
The gist of the story is about the new pastor finding his way into the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of Restigné. There’s a lot of comedy involved and, like all good tragedies, some moments of violence; the tragic and surprising ending arrives suddenly, much like in real life.
The heart of the graphic novel lies with pastor Pierre, whose genuine concern for his parish and its inhabitants is really touching. Rabaté puts to paper real people, and you are immediately drawn into the lives of the denizens of Restigne.
With a rough, loose brush but a controlled line, Rabaté’s realistic approach enhances the drama and real-life feel superbly. The black-and-white chiaroscuro is pitch perfect and, well, there’s just not much to add except for the highest praise.
The beauty of Loose Lips lies in its perfect combination of story and artwork. This cinematic rural mystery in the area of Rabaté’s birth drives on its human characters, who are given life with stunning brushwork in a romantic, realistic approach. Highly recommended.