Summary: “Skandalon,” found in the Gospels, refers to a persistent trap or obstacle, such as the one that confounds the mesmerizing, Jim Morrison-like lead character Tazane. He is a true rock icon: passionate, arrogant, selfish, and sometimes violent, the charismatic singer is a beacon for controversy and scandal. But the public that worships him and the media that lavishes attention on him are waiting for him to fall from grace. At times shocking, Skandalon is a powerful and relentless meditation on the high cost of fame, and the demons awaiting anyone who refuses to be wary of them.
Julie Maroh is an author and illustrator originally from northern France. She studied comic art at the Institute Saint-Luc in Brussels and lithography and engraving at the Royal Academy of Arts in Brussels.
Skandalon, by Julie Maroh 7.0
‘Skandalon’ is Julie Maroh’s follow-up to her critically-acclaimed ‘Le bleu est une couleur chaude‘. It follows the mental breakdown and public self-destruction of Tazane, an arrogant, self-absorbed young rock superstar.
While his (sometimes premeditated) actions draw controversy, he feels contemptuous about the masses gobbling up all that he says and does. He works up his concert audiences into frenzies, and violence erupts.
But he doesn’t care; he’s numb to all of the chaos and criticism: Though he tends to opine about various sociopolitical concerns, he slips towards nihilism, using people in whichever way he pleases, irrespective of consequences.
However, he’s unable to handle the pressure and the media dissection of his image and impact. This leads him to more erratic behaviour, acting out in bizarre ways in public, and disappointing fans. But he explodes across the charts anyway.
That is, until one night when he violates a starry-eyed concertgoer after a show, merely to exert his supremacy over her boyfriend. The public and media backlash is broad and instantaneous; even his closest allies turn on him.
Tazane falls into a dark void.
Yep, ‘Skandalon’ was a good time. Not. It basically follows a loathsome individual becoming even more irredeemable as the story unfolds. There are long silences, heavy brooding, flashes of physical and emotional violence.
The thing is, I’m not quite sure what Maroh was trying to explore with her book. Was her Jim Morrison-esque protagonist’s struggle with fame supposed to reflect her own after the massive and instant success of her previous book?
I’m not sure.
And even the afterword by the author herself left me quizzical: she spoke in pretentious ways about morality and I didn’t really grasp all of it. It seemed like some sort of philosophical exercise that was well beyond my means.
So, maybe it was just me, but, ultimately, ‘Skandalon’ was a pretty tough slog; I struggled to turn the pages and only did so in the hope of eventual relief or understanding. Sadly, neither ever came. Not even Maroh’s art could save it.
Don’t get me wrong: ‘Skandalon’ isn’t a bad book. The story is well-told and the characterizations are well-written. But its message isn’t absolutely clear and its musings aren’t profound enough for me to ponder anything but “WTF?”.
Maybe someone else would feel differently.
To each’s own.