Review of the Graphic Novel Tangier in the Rain

Tangier in the Rain is a metafictional graphic novel published by Europe Comics that combines the real-life visits to Tangiers by Matisse and Delacroix with a pseudo-Arabian night’s tales by the model who Matisse is fascinated by. Spoiler alert!  The model tells the story of a fennec fox that turns into a man and marries a princess. However, the child of these two species has some problems related to her bicultural heritage. The story of the model is a coded fairy tale. The model is telling the story of her own affair with a European (the fennec fox) and the model (the princess) and the brother of the princess which is the symbol of the actual brother. The art does change between the Matisse story and the model’s story which adds to the readers comprehension that there are two narratives. This graphic novel is not for the faint hearted. Good comic book reading skills are needed.

The offspring of both the fennec fox and the princess and the European and the model/narrator have problems that are similar. The king and father of the princess is a description of the real father of the model and so on and so on. However, Matisse does not understand the code and thinks the model is just telling him some version of an Arabian fairy tale like the Arabian Nights without realizing the story is using symbolism to tell the models risky and very real story! So, four narratives with different points of view (POV). The Matisse story can be found in histories of artists of that time. I knew about Delacroix but only vaguely had heard of the Matisse journey inspired by the example of Delacroix. Matisse models his life with Delacroix in mind. Do women use coded fairy tales to communicate? Well maybe not fairy tales but women do communicate via stories that are not so much as written but known by sisters and friends with similar narratives told by more than one member of the “family”.

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