Social Fiction, by Chantal Montellier

Now out from New York Review Comics


Appearing together in English for the first time, three politically charged sci-fi graphic novellas by a pioneering comics artist, translated from the French by Geoffrey Brock.

An anonymous official chides a man under surveillance for stepping out of view of a security camera; visitors to an underground mall are forced to form a new society after an apparent nuclear strike; newlyweds living in an authoritarian city attempt to navigate the insidious hurdles of being permitted to have a child; and a Puerto Rican boxer discovers that segregation continues in America long after death.

These are the visions of Chantal Montellier, a contributor to the legendary Métal Hurlant and the creator of some of the most striking and stirring science fiction comics of the 1970s and 1980s.

In this collection of three novellas, Wonder City, Shelter, and 1996, published together in English for the first time, Montellier’s blend of dark humor, gripping storytelling, and consistent focus on the perils of totalitarianism, shows her to be a master of both comics and science fiction.

See book at the New York Review Books site


“Montellier emerges as a true visionary of the graphic-novel medium and the science-fiction genre in these captivating tales of human beings struggling to retain their dignity under repressive regimes.” —Library Journal

“Montellier’s firm line and punk ethos recall the early, science fiction–themed installments of Love and Rockets, but her vision is far bleaker, fueled by political rage, satirical wit, and a full-bore feminist drive. The anarchic sensibility feels both of its time and eerily prescient. It’s a thrilling introduction to an unmissable comics talent.” —Publishers Weekly

“For these three albums, all of them SF, the idea is to observe the broken pieces of the state of the future, and to discern, perhaps, some means of aggravating the cracks in it. Montellier’s ‘dirty future’ is not just dirty, it is barely functional. Authority figures constantly make mistakes. Automated systems are filled with blind spots. This is to say, the ‘dirty future’ aesthetic is employed by Montellier to a specific political end. The dystopia in Social Fiction droops from the loosening tape that holds it together, yet people still comply. Like most Métal hurlant contributors, Montellier lived through 1968, but unlike nearly all of them, she worked extensively in radical leftist venues prior to her narrative strip work; the sigh behind her pestilent societies is that of faded promise.” —Joe McCulloch, editor of The Comics Journal

“She brought with her her vision of the world, desperate but not despairing, singular, strong, personal… One of the rare genuine auteurs of the French bande dessinée.” —Jean-Pierre Dionnet, founder of Métal hurlant