Letters for Lucardo
t’s been a long time since I’ve read something as tender and tragic as Letters for Lucardo by Noora Heikkilä. This beautifully drawn graphic novel tells the love story of Edmund and Lucardo, two men from different worlds who fall in love in spite of—perhaps because of—their differences. Ed is a working-class scribe who has passed his prime at the ripe age of nearly 61 years. Lucardo will forever be 33 and belongs to the elites of the Night Court, a mysterious organization of immortals whose purpose has not yet been revealed. Their passion overcomes the disparity in age and class, but will it be enough to sustain their love?
The subdued, almost sepia tones of the artwork not only lend an air of age to the graphic novel, which appears to be set in an alternative past, but also emphasize the warmth of the relationship between Ed and Lucardo. Most of the line work is soft, with very few absolutely straight edges, and this lets Heikkilä play with the interlocking of bodies in the erotic scenes in a way that foregrounds the closeness of the two lovers. There is no mistaking the affection that they have for each other, either through the art or through the dialogue. I have the impression, however, that dialogue would not strictly be necessary, as lovely as it is, because the facial expressions that Heikkilä has conveyed are so moving. It was one of my favourite parts of reading this work to watch Ed move from embarrassment and uncertainty to confidence and coyness in the course of his relationship with Lucardo. On the other hand, Ed brings out vulnerability in the naturally arrogant Lucardo, who is eventually able to take off his mask of confidence in front of Ed. Indeed, it is perhaps only through Ed that Lucardo is able to do so.
But is it enough for their relationship to survive the many obstacles that are placed in front of them? Heikkilä expertly depicts the difference in age and constitution between the two men. Ed is thin, with a narrow face and eyes that require glasses. “Time has been less kind on my body,” he says, a statement and a condition that has no effect on Lucardo’s desire. Lucardo is thick and muscular with a full head of hair, thighs that look like they could crush steel, and a youthful exuberance. Where Ed is concerned with being proper, Lucardo is only concerned with achieving pleasure, be it sexual or romantic. Thus they each open something in the other that could be construed as lacking. The difference in class also affects their relationship: Lucardo seems not to understand the toll it takes on Ed even to have dinner with Lucardo’s family. Ed lacks knowledge of etiquette and is therefore open to ridicule by Lucardo’s sisters, who also play a cruel prank on Ed. Ed must deal with the protectiveness of Lucardo’s father, who sees little future for an aging mortal and an ever-young immortal. Of course, this is the truth—how many good years will they have together before Ed becomes frail and eventually dies? How will this affect Lucardo, what with the growing intensity of his feelings for Ed? Is their relationship worth the pain that it will inevitably cause?
I hesitate to give away more about the wonderful story that is Letters for Lucardo, because it is a moving experience to watch the relationship between these two intriguing men grow and deepen. In any case, there are many questions that aren’t answered in this first volume, and I can’t wait for the next one!
Writer/Artist: Noora Heikkilä
Publisher: Iron Circus Comics