An intriguing, magical story about a modern-day magician, as secretive as the tricks he performs, who uses mystery and spectacular to play massive one-off shows to huge audiences

Showtime by Antoine Cossé

Showtime is a story about a modern-day magician, who uses mystery and spectacular to play massive one-off shows to huge audiences. However, he’s also prone to disappearing, making the man almost as mysterious as the magic he performs. The story is captured beautifully in this black-and-white graphic novel, itself a sleight of hand, as one scene merges into the next with blurring and swirling illustrations.

Showtime by Antoine CosséThe story itself is relatively short, as a driver stops to pick up some hitch-hikers whose car has broken down. The driver is a journalist who’s been promised an interview with the magician after his next show, while the passengers are on their way to jobs waiting tables at the after-show party.

Cossé weaves this simple car journey into a mysterious mix of anecdote and reminiscence, stretching the narrative and maintaining a pacey, page-turning momentum. The art, too, is worth taking your time over, to fully appreciate the ebb and flow of the illustrations as they cascade through the book.

Ultimately it’s a light story. It has a wonderful premise but it only feels as developed as it needs to be to move the story along. As a result the final act is more about the illustrative flourish than the progression of the story. However, it’s still well worth having a look at, particularly if you like magic – both the conjuring and the illustrative.

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