Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hugo and Iris: Hugo's Wedding (Book 1 – Spring 1830) by Yslaire

This is the first volume of the family saga, La Guerre des Sambre. We follow the adventures of this family through time (or should I say back back in time!) since the 19th century until the Prehistory.

The trilogy about Hugo and Iris were drawn by the talented Bastide and Mezil who follow the story and scenario by Yslaire.

1857. A young redhead boy with an injured eye cannot sleep at night after having a nightmare. Comforted by his aunt Sarah, the boy fells asleep. The next day in an office at his house, he finds a book called “La Guerre des Yeux” (The War of the Eyes) and looks carefully at a portrait of a redhead men who looks very much like him.

We go back to 1830 with the marriage of Hugo Sambre and Blanche Dessang. It's a marriage of convenience and the young couple isn't really pleased about each other's fate, especially the groom. Quickly, Hugo leaves his family home and travels to Belgium to a business trip with his father-in-law.

During a visit to a copper mine, Hugo and a friend, Vicaire, make a macabre discovery: an ancient graveyard. Among the bones of women and children, a skull with red precious stones as eyes who completely fascinates Hugo. While exploring the tunnel, they make another incredible find, a cave with prehistorical paintings. The young man cannot think about anything else, and when he returns home he remains completely obsessed with those red eyes.

The relationship with his father already tumultuous, becomes even more complicated after Hugo's refusal to sell the mine and he is asked to leave the family house as soon as possible. He leaves for Paris where his friend Vicaire drags him to the theater to see the fascinating Iris, an actress with red eyes...

This first volume is thoroughly captivating and I couldn't stop reading it until the last page. The story is well written and there's enough intrigue and drama to please any historical fiction lover who enjoys a good family saga.

The drawings are breathtaking! Each one of them is a treat and you can easily feel all the work behind them. They are also one of the main reasons why the story works so well. The richness of the colors and details take you back through time skilfully, but without distracting you from the story. Everything is every well balanced.
You can also follow the Sambre family three in the back of each volume (also beautifully done), which really helps if you continue to read the series.
The series:
La Guerre des Sambre livre I (1830-1847) - Hugo & Iris
  1. Le mariage d'Hugo
  2. La passion selon Iris
  3. La Lune qui regarde
La Guerre des Sambre livre II (1760) - Werner & Charlotte
  1. L'Éternité de Saintange
  2. La Messe rouge (to be released)
  3. Votre enfant, comtesse.., (to be released)
La Guerre des Sambre livre III (-40 000 av JC) - Aam & Yev
  1. La Genèse (to be released)
  2. Au commencement (to be released)
  3. Ecce homo oculis (to be released)
This series is linked to another historical series focused in Hugo and Iris descendants, called Sambre and published before this one.

Unfortunately, these series were only translated in German and never in English. It's really a shame since this is, for me, a must read for anyone who enjoys historical comics.

Grade: 4.5/5


  1. It's a graphic novel? I'm confused....(but that's not unusual).

    What's next? Anime' bodice-rippers? It's a new world!

  2. This sounds FABULOUS. I was so bummed to get to the last line and see it's not translated into English :-( LETDOWN.

  3. I'm truly sorry Aarti! I don't know if it help or not, but just learned that this series was published in Spanish ( With a little luck, the English translation in the making.:)

  4. Shelley,
    yes, it's an historical graphic novel (or historical comics).

  5. It's too bad they haven't been translated into English. They sound really good.

  6. This looked to be a GREAT Graphic Novel! I was getting ready to search for the first volume until you wrote that they haven't been translated in English (yet?!) Thanks for sharing though, you never know when someone may be inspired to bring this to American readers too.

  7. thank you for sharing this interesting work.

  8. I've read Sambre (Hugo and Iris descendents) in French. I liked the art a whole lot and the story somewhat. I'd probably love it more if I understood the historical context better (one of the many French Revolutions). If you can read French (or German or whatever) it's a good start to non-Asterix FrancoBelgian comics. Of course, it shares a common problem with many French comics in that there's a million volumes and they're all like 20 bucks each and probably twice that if you want to get them in the US. But still, Yslaire is a wonderful artist. I just got "The Sky Above the Louvre" by him--in English--and it's ok but seems to be part of some kind of Louvre-produced series of comics. The history is there but probably not the creativity. Maybe he wasn't all that interested...