Parade (with Fireworks) is a wonderfully moving, thoughtful, and breathtaking graphic novel. This book is about so much: Love of family and friends, tradition, and the complicated politics of Italy during the rise of fascism. However, what shines through more than anything is a deep and moving sense of humanity.
At the recent Emerald City Comicon, I chatted with Kristin Simon of Shadowline (Jim Valentino’s imprint for Image Comics). As you might imagine, she and I discussed Shadowline’s graphic novels. They have a very impressive catalog, and Kris loves all the comics that she edits for the line. However, there was one book that she practically waxed rhapsodic about: Parade (with Fireworks), and with good reason.
The book tells the story of Paolo, a young man who has returned to his hometown in pre-WWII Italy to tend his family’s farm. Yet, as Paolo says, “What we return to isn’t always what we left behind. Without tending, other things take root; unwanted things.”
Chief among those unwanted things is the emergence of intense political battles in the bucolic little town. Politically, Italy was a highly charged country during the 1930s before Mussolini assumed power–and that is what is depicted in this book. For instance, a vivacious little parade on the Feast of the Epiphany turns into a very ugly confrontation–thus triggering the titular “parade with fireworks” of this graphic novel.
Instantly, the quiet little town is transformed by violence; a place that had been a refuge from the problems of the rest of the country has suddenly become just another battleground between the fascists and communists.
Parade (with Fireworks) is about politics, but it’s also about so much more. It’s about families and how they survive adversities; it’s about a small rural town finding that it’s not immune from the problems of large cities; and it’s about how all of these struggles affect one man who just wants to find happiness in his life.
I find it difficult to describe the wonderfully lyrical feel of this book. Mike Cavallaro presents a warm and passionate story that is full of all the breath of life. His illustration style is gorgeously simple with a line that is reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke’s or Bruce Timm’s work. His characters have a tenderness and simplicity that somehow adds a tremendous feeling of depth to the characters.
Cavallaro’s coloring also adds to the excellence of the book by evoking a variety of moods. I have difficulty in recalling another book that’s used the full palette of colors in such a meaningful and thoughtful way.
Parade (with Fireworks) transcends its time and place to present a completely unique reading experience as it showcases a creator at the top of his game. That deserves Comics Bulletin’s highest rating.