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White Rapids

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  182 ratings  ·  43 reviews
The rise and fall of a Canadian town


Award-winning Quebecois cartoonist Pascal Blanchet's graphic novel is a compelling account of the rise and fall of the small northern town of White Rapids. In the first English translation of his work, Blanchet seamlessly blends fact and fiction as he weaves together the official history of the town and snapshots of the quotidian life of
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Paperback, 156 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Drawn & Quarterly Publications (first published October 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 267)
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Steve
White Rapids is a graphic novel that defies description in many ways, for to even call it a graphic "novel" seems a bit of a misnomer. The book gives an account of life in the small, idyllic town of Rapide Blanc, a place that was at once both pastoral and filled with modern conveniences, both isolated from the world and perfectly in tune with the ideals of the time. It is in many ways the paragon of 1950s ideals, like an image straight out of Leave it to Beaver or The Andy Griffith Show, and thu ...more
Sarah
Great graphic novel--an excellent choice (a must read) for someone who wants to experience the variety that graphic novels offer.

Wonderful Art Deco and fifties illustrations using only brown and orange hues.
Craftwise- Uses news articles, maps, "discography," dialogue and more. I’ve seen company towns and this book shows them well, from the individuals to the community, to the fish no one can catch. Emotional power of no words right after page “1971” to 3 spreads showing empty rooms in house, the
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Sam Quixote
In the early `20s, the Shawinigan Water & Power Company decides to make more money by setting up a dam further upriver near Quebec in an isolated region. In order to make the dam work they decide to build a town in the area for the workers and it's called Rapide Blanc. The dam and town are built and the workers move in. The town and company prosper from the dam and live well through the years until 1971 when the Shawinigan Water & Power Company is sold and the dam shut down. With the dam ...more
Awesome
Two stars for the story, and an extra for the artwork. The latter is pretty fly: all art deco-y and 1950's modern-ish. The layout and text integration are also interesting.

The story follows the rise and demise of a community built for employees of a Quebec hydroelectric company. We see the community's inception in the company's office tower (heavily reminiscent of Hudsucker Industries), watch the little village grow and flourish, and finally bid it adieu, as improved transportation between comp
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Joanne Angelina
"Some summer evenings, there was dancing in the village, the gramophone playing under the stars, laughter, small talk and Mademoiselle Normand's bright eyes..."
A beautifully illustrated graphic novel, White Rapids talks about the rise and fall of Rapide Blanc, a small northern town located in Quebec founded in the late 1920s. What won me over was Blanchet's beautiful illustrations which were very Art Deco and fifties Modernist- a real feast for the eyes!
Michael
I absolutely love this book and have now read it twice (it doesn't take long.) It tells the rise and fall of White Rapids a town in Canada that springs up after a hydro-electric dam is built in a remote area in the 20s and 30s.

The visuals and type in this book are like nothing I've seen in a graphic novel. The back cover describes is as a "streamlined, retro-inspired aesthetic [that] draws on Art Deco and fifties modernist design..." That sounds about right.

This book reminds me of a Richard Russ
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Meghan
Drawn and Quarterly books all have this smell to them. This book smells exactly like It's a Good Life if you Don't Weaken by Seth, which happens to be one of my favorite comics ever, so I semi-consciously was associating this book in that favorable light.

Blanchet is similar to Seth and Chester Brown, though. This book, in an amazing, visually compelling retro style, full of interesting lettering and 50s modern design, tells the story of the creation of a small town in Quebec (built when a dam wa
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Carly Thompson
White Rapids tells the story of the rise and fall of a small Canadian company town. Founded in 1928 as a community for workers at the nearby dam and power plant, White Rapids provided a slice of middle class life for Quebecois until the town was shut down under the government plan to automate the plant. The story was on the thin side but the highlight of the novel was the art deco/50s modernist style of the illustrations. I really liked the brown/orange/gray color scheme, the stylized people (es ...more
Danielle Klassen
This is the kind of book either you will love it for the design of it or you will hate it for the same. Having a stake in design myself, I fit in the first category. Basically the whole book is more like a picture book than a graphic novel but the graphics itself are gorgeous. The typography and the use of the art are the stars of this book and if you're looking for a big long story, you'll likely be disappointed. Still, it gives you a lovely, nostalgic view of life in White Rapids and has a dis ...more
Lindsay
A very stylish little GN about the boom and bust of a hydro-electric power town in Canada.
Writerlibrarian
Art déco graphic novel from one of the best graphic novel artist in Quebec. Blanchet with a quasi monochrome palette of dark almost black brown, to bright orange tells the story of a 'company town' up north on the St-Maurice river, Rapide Blanc. Built to house the employees of the water and energy company operating the hydro damp, Rapide Blanc became a ghost town in 1971 when the hydro damp now own by Hydro Québec went for automated operations.

It's a somber, yet clear look at a way of life that
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Emilia P
Mad Men + Michel Rabigliati + I dunno, maybe a bluegrass song on Prairie Home Companion = this book. The story of a sweet little company town, told broadly through full page (and double-page!) panels in color -- like mid-century advertisements for the town itself. A perfect way to capture a haze of nostalgia about the town, about Canadian childhood, about the power and transience of community, really simply and effectively. Basically, it's just really pretty and sharp and gets its point across w ...more
Crystal Allen
Nov 06, 2007 Crystal Allen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of beautiful retro-style illustrations
Shelves: graphic-novels
This graphic novel has some of the most wonderful illustrations I have ever seen. I love retro style illustrations and in that department this book definitely does not disappoint.

The storyline isn't the type of book that I normally read but the artwork makes this a book definitely worth picking up!

About a town in Quebec that was created, lived in, loved and then forced to shut down and be abandoned.

A great gift idea for that Dad, Grandpa or Uncle on your Christmas list.
Liza
I never know how to rate graphic novels. Do you?

White Rapids is mesmerizing because of its style and its art. The story is presented in a very straightforward and breezy manner: The town of Rapide Blanc (that's for you Francophones) is developed then abandoned. It does not come across as overly emotional or political, but it seems whimsical and nostalgic. The art deco style, interesting angles, and playful textual layout are sure to linger in one's mind.
Shannon
This is a concept book. Art deco graphics are sized to a page each, causing the reader to pause and study each frame in greater detail than if they were four or nine up. This has an excellent effect on pacing and makes for a surprisingly effective format. Lots of mood and style. True Canadian history too?! A must read for design nerds.
sweet pea
the art in this book reminds me of the game Mille Bornes. which is a good thing. the format is such an interesting way to tell history. little snippets of facts and lore create a full picture of the company town. that said, the story didn't hold much interest for me. but i appreciate the author's innovative use of form.
Patrick Matte
Le village de Rapide-Blanc est situé à une soixantaine de kilomètres au nord de La Tuque. Les dessins de Blanchet sont magnifiques, dans le style art déco des années 50, qui se prête très bien au récit. J'ai été touché par l'histoire de la création et de la fermeture de ce village isolé et des gens qui y ont vécu.
Adam
graphic novel generated by a french-canadian-peer (agewise that is) telling the story of a community built experessly for a worker populace (truth or fiction of the situation is unknown). Gorgeous artwork. So-so story, but w/o the story the pictures really wouldn't be all that compelling.
Taffnerd
Calling this a comic doesn't do it justice: it's a history, a period peice, a marvel of design and architecture and a blueprint for telling a story of 20th-century humanity.

The style is mid-century modern but scrumptuous.

Seek this out. I found it at my library - you might, too!
christina
What an beautifully designed book this is!
I admire Pascale Blanchet's artistic talent immensely.

That said the story is not very deep or satisfying. It had no resonance for me personally.Which is too bad, because as i said it is very pleasing to look at...
Justus
Beautiful to look at, not much of a plot...but that's not the point anyways. I really like the art and will keep it for reference (which is why I bought it), but its not a piece of literature that's gonna tweak your world or anything.
Catherine
Beautifully illustrated book! It is a graphic novel and in this case is largely about the pictures -- having very little text. Art Deco-influenced images telling the story of a rail development that was once in northern Quebec.
Rachel
Visually, this book came from the future. There are pages and pages with no text, and all the images are so sleek. The story it tells is not compelling to me, but I kept reading out of delicious shock.
Scott Foley
A fast, beautifully drawn graphic novel. The architecture within it is amazing. It follows the birth and demise of a small Canadian village serving as the home to power plant workers.
Scott Stevens
A book about a dam town in rural Quebec from 1930ish - 1970ish.

The pages are lively, but they're not balanced with enough of a historical edge. The strongest character is the fish.
Megan
A really neat short graphic novel about a town in Quebec built around a dam and then closed by the government after Hydro-Quebec came into effect. A neat little story, wonderful images.
Deborah
OMG! L-O-V-E! I could not have loved the art any more, very Deco/50s story about a blissful town created and ultimately abandoned. Sweet sorrow.
Daniel
Very calculatedly and thoughtful in its layout and design. Although, it's not much of a story to read. Still, very nice to look at.
H3idi
Gorgeous and heartfelt, it makes me want to go seek out the ghost town or obliterated area of rapide blanc... any takers?
Dan
Very pretty, but seems to romanticize industrialization and robber barons. Very cute
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Pascal Blanchet est né à Trois-Rivières en 1980. Il possède un intérêt marqué pour le design du 20e siècle, l’architecture et le jazz. Illustrateur autodidacte, il réalise des illustrations pour des journaux et magazines américains et canadiens. Il a notamment travaillé pour Penguin Book, The San Francisco Magazine, The New-Yorker et le National Post.
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