Bryan has been working on the series, to be published by Jonathan Cape and Dark Horse in October, since completing work on Alice in Sunderland. "I was looking through a book I have on the work of 19th century French illustrator Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard, who worked under the nom-de-plume Grandville. He was a big influence on the original Alice in Wonderland illustrator John Tenniel. he frequently drew anthropomorphic animal characters dressed in contemporary French fashions and his pictures were often politically satirical. It suddenly occurred to me that it could be the basis of a graphic novel -- Grandville could be the name of Paris in the centre of a French Empire in a steampunk setting. The 19th century proto-SF French illustrator Albert Robida is another influence."
Of his hero, Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard, Bryan says: "LeBrock's a large working class badger. He has the deductive abilities of Sherlock Holmes but, being a badger, he's also a bruiser and is quite happy to beat the crap out of a suspect to get information. His adjunct and close confidant is the diminutive and elegant Roderick Ratzi, who talks like Bertie Wooster and Lord Peter Wimsey. I wanted to do one of those sorts of adventure stories that starts very small and parochial but gets bigger and more exciting as it goes along until it finishes in an epic climax. The story begins with LeBrock investigating a murder in a small English village (in actuality Ruper Bear's Nutwood). The trail leads him to Grandville, where he discovers a shocking and far-reaching conspiracy. It's basically fin-de-siecle Paris, populated by animals and furnished with speaking tubes, automatons and steam-driven hansom cabs."
Bryan was recently in touch on a different but related subject: Racey Helps. Helps was a hugely popular anthropomorphic animal artist and Bryan sent over a photo of some Woodland Snap cards he had. I'm sure he won't mind me sharing it with you.
(* Quotes from an interview with Bryan by John Reppion originally published online in SteamPunk Magazine (30 November 2008); Grandville artwork © Bryan Talbot. You can find more images from Grandville at the Official Bryan Talbot Fanpage website. Racey Helps cards probably © Estate of Racey Helps.)