Comic Book: Grandville

Damn Frenchies!
Grandville, A Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard Scientific-Romance Thriller, is the title of a series created by British comic artist Bryan Talbot. Inspired by Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard's work of Funny Animal sketches (whose stage name was J.J. Grandville, the basis of the graphic novel's title), he made the graphic novel, along with inspiration from works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Quentin Tarantino and Rupert Bear.

Grandville is set in a fictional Steam Punk Europe, where France won the Napoleonic Wars. The setting is full of anthropomorphic animals... although there have been appearances of humans. The series stars Detective-Inspector Archie LeBrock of Scotland Yard, a huge, muscular badger, solving mysterious cases along with his sidekick Detective Roderick Ratzi, a rat.

The series has three books so far. The first book is simply titled Grandville released in October 2009, while the second book is titled Grandville: Mon Amour (My Love in French) that was released in December 2010. The third book, "Grandville: Bête Noire" ("Black Beast") was published in 2012. The first book focuses on solving a murder of a British diplomat, which soon revealed to be a conspiracy of the French forces which could lead to a British-French war. The second book is Archie tracking down a mad, escaped convict named Edward "Mad Dog" Mastock. The third book is set in France, beginning when LeBrock's French colleague Rocher asks for help solving a murder case, but it quickly turns out to be more than it seems. A fourth album, Grandville: Noel was released at Christmas 2013, in which Archie investigates a cult led by a charismatic unicorn, and its connection to a sinister political movement.

All books have been released in America by Dark Horse Comics. See Blacksad for another similar series (but with less fantasy).

Tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Prime Minister Drummond in the second volume, who's a rather affable chap even after it's revealed he conspired with Woolf to kill off all of the other resistance leaders at the Brick Lane Massacre, claiming I Did What I Had to Do.
  • Alternate History: The setting is Britain that had lost the Napoleonic War 200 years ago, and the royal family were executed. It had then been part of the French empire until twenty-three years previous when it was begrudgingly given independence after a prolonged campaign of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings. Now it's called The Socialist Republic of Britain, a small and unimportant country connected to the French Empire by the Channel railway bridge.
    • The fourth book reveals that the divergence occurred much before then, sometime around the Biblical Flood. When Noah's Arc reached the dry land, the arc was somehow occupied by sapient animals instead of humans and animals. Exactly what happened there, nobody is sure. It also reveals that the Christianity in the Grandville universe posits Noah as God and is ignorant to the notion of the Abrahamic God as we know it. Knowledge to the contrary has been systematically destroyed over the centuries.
    • Strangely, although a newspaper in Mon Amour gives the year as 2010 (which fits with the timeline of the Napoleonic Wars), 19th-century figures such as Gustave Courbet and, it's implied, Sigmund Freud are alive.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Knights of Lyon, the cult responsible for the murder. It is even connected to The Knights Templar.
    • They were wrong though, that it was actually the Knights of the Lion, with the lion being Emperor Napoleon XII. In fact, the Knights of the Lion equates to The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: weapons dealer and newspaper owner Madame Krupp, The Prime Minister Jean-Marie Lapine, Reinhardt the Minister of War, the Archbishop of Paris, and Hyen the Chief of Police.
  • Animal Stereotypes and Animal Motifs: Largely averted. For example, the cops aren't canines at all. On the other hand, the emperor is a lion.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Knights of LyonThe Lion.
  • Badass: Detective-Inspector LeBrock.
  • The Big Guy and by virtue Genius Bruiser: LeBrock.
  • Bulletproof Vest: LeBrock wears one under his waistcoat, though it looks to be like some sort of super-strong chainmail.
  • Carnivore Confusion: There's a scene involving LeBrock asking for a full English breakfast, which included meat. This is weird as there are, in fact, non-carnivorous anthropomorphic characters. The fourth book also mentions that some anthropomorphic animals do deviate from the diets of their -non-anthro counterparts. See also Furry Confusion.
  • Co-Dragons: The Knights of the Lion.
    • Dragon Ascendant: Reinhardt became one after Lapine was killed, since he is the Minister of War. He dies soon enough though.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Aristotle Krapaud in "Bête Noire" is this, with a hint of Wicked Cultured Bond villain.
  • Conspiracy Thriller
  • Cultured Badass: Detective Ratzi. He may look like a pampered gentleman, what with the monocle and bow-tie, but he can kick ass.
  • Dirty Communists: Averted as a whole. "The Socialist Republic of Britain" shows nearly nothing that we associate with Communism or Socialism other than a brief, sarcastic mention of being a "classless society". It almost comes off as Informed Socialism.
    • The French Revolutionary Council is closer to actual socialism. According to the industrialists meeting at Toad Hall in "Bête Noire" the Council's policies include wide ranging nationalizations and universal healthcare and education.
    • We are told that the enemy in French Indo-China are the "Communards," however.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ground Zero. Just Ground Zero.
    • For those who haven't read the first book, much of the story is a metaphor for The War on Terror.
    • There are even protesters that are against the French war in Indo-China rallying in the streets of Paris!
      • This applies pretty much to the entirety of the whole book really.
    • In Noel, humans are not just a despised minority, but the one targeted by the Nazi-equivalents, and the Christianity of this world tends not to mention that Jesus was from this group (albeit through a conspiracy of silence rather than just glossing over it). Hmm...
  • Fantastic Racism: The anthro characters aren't too fond of the humans, calling them with racist terms (see Fantastic Slurs below) and giving them menial tasks. According to LeBrock, they've not made it to Britain because they weren't allowed passports, as they were not granted citizens' rights. Some information from the fourth book suggests that the antis-human prejudice has much deeper and bloody roots.
    • The Archbishop in the first book expresses disgust at interspecies mating. It is uncertain if that is because he believes in the separation of races (akin to prejudice against mixed-race relationships) or simply because he sees it as a sign of general deviancy. Mrs's Doyle's (LeBrock's housekeeper) comments in Noel suggest the former is the case.
    • In the second book, a badger prostitute attempts to proposition two ducks, who turn her down because she "isn't even waterfowl."
  • Fantastic Slurs: French animal people call the humans as "doughfaces".
  • French Jerk: Something shown a lot in the first book. There's even a chef who would rather slit his own wrists than to serve an English meal.
    • Admittedly, in this world France and England have an EXTREMELY hostile relationship, so this may be justified.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: All the animal characters.
  • Furry Comic
  • Furry Confusion: In Coco's room, we see a bear rug.
    • And at least two minor characters (one of which is a waiter) are fish. Fish that breath air.
    • Other characters have been seen walking dogs or owning other non-anthro pets.
  • Guns Akimbo: LeBrock wields guns in the comic like this. This is also apparent in the Grandville cover.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: André Pegasus.
  • The Hero and the Sidekick: Archie LeBrock and Roderick Ratzi.
  • Heroic BSOD: LeBrock undergoes one at the beginning of Grandville Mon Amour, following the death of Sarah.
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Surprisingly averted, as the male and female animal people have the same level of anthropomorphism.
    • Though most of the female animals have human-style head hair, which all but two males animals lack...and those are a lion (his mane) and a hyena (who may have just slicked down his fur, from the looks of things).
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Prime Minister Drummond claims this in the second volume
  • Idiot Ball: Drummond shooting two police officers in wide view of public. He himself admits that it was stupid and that he panicked.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: Throughout the series, we saw plenty of Christian churches and clergy. What we didn't see was that the deity worshiped in the Grandville universe isn't God as we know it. It's Noah. As far as everyone believed, Noah's Arc was the beginning.
  • Lions And Tigers And Humans And Robots Oh My
  • The Man Behind the Man: Quite a few villains throughout the series are revealed to work for or be patsies of someone else:
    • None of the Knights of the Lion are the main villains, as they were doing it for Napoleon.
    • Mastock's prison break in the second book was orchestrated by LeBrock's boss, Brigadier Belier. Belier in turn, did that on behalf of Prime Minister Drummond who wanted to cover up his involvement in a massacre during the British rebellion.
    • Charismatic cult leader Apollo from the fourth book is revealed to be a mere pawn for his Conman mentor, Elwis Yorkshire. While Elwis did not plan Apollo getting consumed by messiah complex or the movement turning political, he kept playing him to remain on top all the while pretending to be a frail old man.
  • Mature Animal Story
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The nature of Apollo's magnetism straddles the two lines. Yorkshire admits that he taught Apollo about hypnotism and manipulation techniques but suggests that this only complemented his innate powers as a unicorn. Many characters insist unicorns are innately magical and magnetic and Apollo's ability to compel crowds just by appearing before them seems to support that.
  • More Than Mind Control: Even after Apollo's hold over the masses is broken and everyone can see him for what he really is, Bunty admits that she is still in love with him. In the end, she is the only one at his side as he dies.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Popular Unity Party in Noel, complete with swastikas.
  • Permanent Elected Official: The founder of the Socialist Republic of Britain and it's first Prime Minister is due to become this during the second book. Despite his respect for the Prime Minister, LeBrock disapproves the move, believing that it is the first step to becoming a People's Republic of Tyranny. In the end, he doesn't make it, having been revealed to have collaborated with Britain's former French military governor to massacre all of the other resistance leaders, and subsequently thrown off a building by LeBrock.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Taking place in a period of political upheaval, the books have a protest as a setpiece at least Once an Episode. Sometimes, they turn violent.
    • In the third book, a pro-human rally is marching in central Paris when [LeBrock] and Ratzi bump into the killer they've been looking for. A firefight breaks out, leading to a stampede.
    • In the fourth book, an anti-human rally happens across a group of human terrorists who were planning to bomb the rally but were interrupted before they could enact their plan. The crowd correctly deduces their intentions, the humans panic and open fire and things just get worse from there.
  • Petting Zoo People: Moreso even than usual, as the "animals" turn out to have animal heads on 100% human, furless, tail-less bodies. They occasionally do their bestial reactions, but generally they belong to this category.
  • La Résistance: The English Resistance came in both varieties. There was the more mainstream anarchist/socialist forces (of which both LeBrock and his father were members), and then there were the Angry Brigade, who were vicious anti-French terrorists. Both sides have a notable distaste for each other
  • Shirtless Scene: LeBrock hides in a steam bath, going nude with only a towel covering him. Also with Coco.
  • Shout-Out
  • The Sixth Ranger: Billie and Rocher.
  • The Smart Guy: Ratzi.
  • Socialist Realism: The mural commisioned by the French Revolutionary Council in "Bête Noire" is this.
  • Sociopathic Hero: LeBrock is capable of horrific brutality, even if all his targets are Asshole Victims. Just ask the Archbishop.
  • Species Surname: Very common, though some are subtler than others. French Prime Minister Lapine has the bonus of having a name that relates to rabbits (which he is) and the French nationalist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen (which Lapine also is).
  • Starving Artist: The Artists at "The Agile Rabbit" in "Bête Noire" lament about being this. It's soon revealed that they are merely without comissions at the moment, hinting that they're not as badly off as they like to portray themselves being.
  • Steam Punk
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Both Ratzi and LeBrock have this in spades. In the second book, Ratzi is mugged by two human street toughs and is only mildly annoyed, even when they try to stab him in the back!
  • Sword Cane: Both. LeBrock uses the standard sword-in-cane while Ratzi uses the cane-that-shoots-bullets version.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Sarah from the first book.
  • Torture Always Works: Or at least usually works. Archie tortures everyone he captures in Book 1, and gets results based on how much they know. If they know a lot he gets complete, accurate information in minutes.
  • Translation Convention: As France had ruled England for a few hundred years in the history of this world, every character is actually speaking French (which leads to some French idioms being directly translated to English). Early on the first book Ratzi asks what the weird language some country folk are speaking in, only to be told they're speaking English.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It receives a passing mention but otherwise, there is very little in the second book to indicate that mere three weeks ago France suffered a revolution after the French Emperor and his Government were practically wiped out in a bloody attack.
  • You Dirty Rat: Inverted with Detective Ratzi.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Goes without saying really.