Getting a new printing this month is Rohan at the Louvre – an acclaimed graphic novel starring the fan-favourite character from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures. As Rohan, a young Japanese manga artist, is drawing, he meets a mysterious, beautiful woman who tells him of a cursed 200-year-old painting. The painting was created using the blackest ink ever known, which came from a 1,000-year-old tree that the painter had cut down without the approval of the Emperor. The painter was executed for this, but the painting was saved from destruction by a curator of the Louvre. A decade later, Rohan visits Paris and asks the museum to unearth the painting from deep within its archives—but he is completely unprepared for the power of the curse he has unleashed.
Since it’s debut in 1986, Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures has gained a massive following worldwide and is one of the bestselling manga series of all time. Both the original series and its sequels/spinoffs have brought about several iconic characters that have achieved mainstream popularity. One of those is Rohan who was part of a special story created for the 2009 exhibition The Louvre invites the comics. It was eventually released as a standalone piece in Japan and later in English from NBM. Whilst not a part of the main Jojo narrative, there is plenty in this one-shot to attract dedicated fans.
The first thing is obviously the presentation. Araki’s artwork has been praised as some of the most detailed and expressive you’ll see in the manga medium. It is little wonder he was selected by the Louvre to showcase the style. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was a weekly series printed on newsprint in black and white. Whilst this never hampered Araki’s art, it does therefore make it extra special to see his work get the special treatment in an oversized hardcover with full colour artwork. It’s fun to see him playing around with his styles a bit too with a some European influence creeping in.
We also get an intriguing mystery story with an over-the-top JoJo twist. The franchise has always been known for its crazy action and powerful attacks, but it’s fun to transpose that into a type of setting that’s not typically featured in the main series. There’s a solid mixture of subtlety and the craziness you’d expect.
This is both a tremendous celebration of Hirohiko Araki as an artist and The Louvre itself. JoJo fans who have yet to pick this comic up owe it to themselves to see Araki’s recognised by a historic institute with top quality presentation.
Rohan at the Louvre is out now from NBM (9781561636150, h/b, £17.99)
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