Bilal is a legendary sci-fi and fantasy artist. He has an uncanny ability to evoke a vast world of suspense and mystery. His villains are utterly macabre. His women are utlra-cool sexy. For his contribution to the NBM ComicsLit Louvre collection, Bilal provides us with twenty-two ghost stories in his graphic novel, “Phantoms of the Louvre.” He focuses on a particular work in the Louvre, photographs it, and then works his magic with acrylic, pastel, and prose. For example, we have the story of Marpada who, it would not be a stretch to say brings to mind Wonder Woman. If you ever wondered what a Bilal Wonder Woman would be like, this has got to be it. Note to DC Comics: Entice Bilal to do a Wonder Woman story!
I’m sure there are plenty of Bilal fans here in the States but, wherever you might be, this book is a stunner. It’s a mellow European sensibility but a stunner all the same. Each story takes you on some spooky and gothic misadventure and leads to an untimely demise. Getting back to the story of Marpada, she is a true Amazon warrior. Born in 393 B.C. in Themyscira during the reign of Hippolyta, in no time Marpada proved her skill with bow and arrow. Bilal chose a sculpture of a horse head from Attica at the end of the 6th century as his jumping off point. He weaves a story that finds Marpada has a true affinity with horses, and seals her fate as an equestrian during a fateful war party at Attica. From then on, she is known as a fierce warrior.
However, in a subsequent battle, Marpada’s loyal horse of many years rears back and crushes her! There are twenty-one more stories in similar vein, all quite fun and delightful. And, each work of art is carefully cited with a map at the back of the book showing you where you can find it during your own adventure at the Louvre.
You can find “Phantoms of the Louvre” and a treasure trove of other distinctive graphic novels at NBM. Visit our friends at NBM ComicsLit right here.