Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia’s graphic novel Ballad for Sophie is, for lack of a better word, a masterpiece. A truly and completely stunning masterpiece.
The story is set in two worlds, one in 1933 and one in 1997, and follows a young journalist on a quest to unearth the questionable history of retired world famous pianist Julien Dubois. Through a series of sit-down interviews with the reclusive musician, the journalist extracts an epic story of fame, rivalries, loss, and music.
What I found to be so striking about Melo and Cavia’s book is the way the illustrations seemed to leap off the page and hug me. They’re warm, both in color and in what they depict. Melo is a masterful storyteller, his narrative sending readers back and forth in time and wonderfully building tension and suspense at all the right moments. Alongside the language, Cavia’s illustrations are pungent with emotion, texture, and pigment. Coursing through the story are splashes of gold that give the often depressing story an atmosphere saturated with warmth.
As if this book was lacking in atmospheric elements, Filipe Melo wrote an original piece for Ballad for Sophie that beautifully accentuates the ending of the story. You can listen to it on Spotify.
The visual experience of this graphic novel is refrshing; I often find that while a graphic novels’ images may be high quality, the story they depict is not. That is not the case with Ballad for Sophie. Also, it’s being adapted into a television series, so get your hands on it before they release the show!