Afrika, the newly translated comic by the Belgian artist Hermann, is a lush story of obsession, set (unsurprisingly) in Africa. There poachers, governments, and nature herself come into conflict with one man.
Dario Ferrer, the protagonist, is obsessed with the wilds of Africa and will seemingly do anything to protect them from mankind. His chief concern is poachers, and he employs ruthless tactics to stop them. The story takes off as a reporter named Charlotte joins him to document his crusade. Eventually, something unexpected happens and things go predictably to hell. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but, eventually, Ferrer is forced to decide what he is willing to sacrifice.
One thing that impressed me about this book was how timeless it seemed. The art seems like an evolution of comic art from the ’70s, while the story is reminiscent of the bleak style of the late ’80s. As a result, I was surprised when a small cell phone made an appearance.
What I found striking in this comic was the single-bloody-mindedness of Ferrer. His drive to protect his adopted home is matched by his refusal to allow any distractions in. This single-mindedness gets him into and out of trouble consistently throughout this book and is the main driving force of the plot.
Afrika celebrates the natural beauty of the continent, especially the wildlife. At every turn, nature is shown to be gorgeous and uncaring. The stupidity of man is also on display. Almost without fail, the people in this book are selfish and shortsighted. Ferrer, who might be the most selfish character of them all, is the most sympathetic, because he is not interested in people at all.
While I had some minor issues with the book, I would recommend it heartily to almost anyone. I loved the art and setting. The savagery of Africa is only matched by that of the people. Additionally, every scene helped propel the story or the characters. I enjoyed reading this one from start to finish.
Four and a half gazelles out of five.