When I first read the translation of Manu Larcenet’s Le Combat Ordinaire in the form of NBM’s Ordinary Victories (my review), I had no idea that the story continued past the two volumes collected therein. But, this March, volume 3 came out in France, and after reading it, there is clearly a fourth volume planned (at least). That can only be good news as I really enjoy this series. Realizing it is a series rather than a “graphic novel” (as I referred to it numerous times in my previous review) makes the structure of the book more logical: the lack of one overall plot and the ongoing everyday aspect of the story more easily lend themselves to a series (and actually makes me feel that it is a little more conventional than I first thought).
As I’ve previously reviewed the first two volumes, my comments on this one will be brief.
The book continues telling the story of Marco’s life. The main focus of this volume is his dealing with the aftermath of his father’s death (in the previous volume) and learning to understand his father’s life and their relationship. A few subplots wind their way through: a book deal, Marco’s girlfriend Emily wanting a child, and Marco’s brother’s issues with the father’s death. These subplots all seem to set-up larger stories for future volumes. We also see a return of the old man who was a commanding soldier in Algeria, allowing more historical details of that shameful time in French history.
The theme of struggling through life continues as does the idea of “ordinary victories” of joy. This is particularly brought in through the father’s diary, decades worth of tiny observations (“Snow. Put laurel in the fire. A divine smell.” (my translation)) that causes Marco much puzzlement (but makes plenty of sense to me, they are almost like haiku in their nature observation simplicity).
It is only with this volume that I realized the realistic/sketchy interludes are supposed to represent Marco’s photographs. It seems so obvious to me now. The change in style represents the realism of a photo and Marco’s narration mirrors the way his personality and life come through in his art (which is a topic of discussion in this book). The interludes continue in this book, all of which show images from Marco’s father’s workshop. Early on in the book we see Marco taking photos of the workshop, and the subsequent interlude showing tools and such made the connection for me.
If you’ve read the first volumes, this would be no surprise. If anything, it improves upon the past volumes, and Larcenet’s art has matured too. I certainly hope a volume 4 is soon forthcoming as well as another translated volume from NBM.