News about the English-language publication of Blutch's Peplum has been swirling since early in the year, thanks to Darguad editor Thomas Ragon who first mentioned a rights deal, and now New York Review Books have a listing up on their website for the comic, complete with a release date of April 19th, 2016. It will be translated by Edward Gauvin. Originally published in French in 1996, Peplum is Blutch's adaptation of the Satyricon, a satirical work of fiction by Petronius, first published in 1482. Its plot roughly follows Encolpius and his lover, Giton, a handsome sixteen-year-old servant boy, as Encolpius struggles to retain Giton's attention and affections due to his constantly being enticed away by others. Containing both prose and verse, the work is marked by comedic, serious, erotic, and decadent passages, and known for being an influential example of the Roman novel.
While Blutch's (aka Christian Hincker) name may or may not be familiar to you; the cartoonist is a long-standing and widely revered member of the French comics community, where he's regarded as one of the most influential and important artists of his generation, and has been publishing work since 1988, and awarded the Grand Prix at Angouleme in 2009. However, very little of his work has been translated into English, apart from for the now out-of-print So Long, Silver Screen, released by Picture Box in 2013. Resplendent with his lush painted brushwork, that book blurs anecdote and non-fiction/quasi auto-bio reportage to present a look at the impact of the cinema Blutch loved and grew up with. So it's incredibly gratifying -both as a fan and beyond- to see another of his books get translated and hopefully reach wider audiences.
'The man known as Blutch is one of the giants of contemporary comics, and Peplum may be his masterpiece: a grand, strange dream of ancient Rome. At the edge of the empire, a gang of bandits discovers the body of a beautiful woman in a cave; she is encased in ice but may still be alive. One of the bandits, bearing a stolen name and with the frozen maiden still in tow, makes his way toward Rome—seeking power, or maybe just survival, as the world unravels.
Thrilling and hallucinatory, vast in scope yet unnervingly intimate, Peplum weaves together threads from Shakespeare and The Satyricon along with Blutch’s own distinctive vision. His hypnotic storytelling and stark, gorgeous art pull us into one of the great works of graphic literature, translated into English for the first time.'