Kevin Joseph and Ludovic Sallé have launched a new creator owned title this year called Tart. It is a three issue graphic novel and focuses on a female protagonist called Tart Acid. Joseph and Sallé are a keen and enthusiastic duo and this is their first collaborative effort. Kevin has written a couple of short stories and screenplays together with a further comic called Underwars, but is very new to the game. Ludo has been drawing for a while but most of his published work is sold in France, and this is his first English book. Tart appears to work for an agency that is inter-dimensional that seems to save people from fantasy realms. She is sent on a variety of missions such as rescuing a child from a demon forest and then a fellow agent in the snow covered French Riveria. The book keeps Tart’s employers and background a mystery, but subtle clues are given as we progress through the issues.
The book is put together with style. The issues have beautiful covers and Tart looks beautiful in all of them. She is drawn very curvaceously, but in a normal way, without ridiculous oversized breasts. She also has a unique face with a recognisable birthmark but most importantly, other females have completely different visages. Ludovic has naturalness to his art and the characters all have realistic postures and movements. This allows Tart to express herself freely without having to strike typical superhero poses. The colouring is one of the key features of this book and the first two issues are completely different but equally aesthetically gorgeous. The first is coloured like an old wartime program, based on a parchment yellow backing with predominant green and red shading. The second has a white backing with blues and greys in the snowy French Riveria. They provide an atmosphere to the book, which makes us feel warm inside, but then chilled to the bones.
The narrative is hidden. Tart’s character is often thinking to herself and explaining her actions. The missions are drawn well and Tart’s thoughts supplement the story being shown. There is not much in the way of character interaction as of yet, but this does not affect the narrative. This is certainly the case with the second issue, as hardly any words are spoken at all. It is an interesting start to the story as we follow our female lead through her tasks, without actually knowing who she is or where she is going. Clues are revealed as we progress but the mystery is pertinent to the book. This may be somewhat irritating but the artwork soothes that quickly, and the key to the comic is the central character.
Tart is very much a unique character to the comic universe. She looks different and even though she is strong and tough, she has a gentle and caring side. This dichotomy is borne out in the fighting sequences and the caring empathetic scenes with the lost child, the snowy cave family, and the mammoth she kills. She is confident and self-assured as she deducts the challenges thrown at her. Kevin does allude to a dark past as when she finally relaxes we are shown images of terror and despair, lurking into Tart’s mind. She has a tattoo of sorts on her lower back, which are clearly representative of a troubled youth. The book has a strong but sweet leading lady, a plot yet to be elucidated but quietly hinted at, and an artist with an incredible sense of atmosphere and emotion. These are all key aspects to the start of an excellent creator owned comic book.
“I’ve got a little time to be human again” 9/10