François, a loner, works for a laundry cleaning service as a messenger driver and leads a very unexciting and routine life. His happiest moment of the day is a visit to single mother Maryvonne, who runs a newsstand and to whom François hands in his lottery ticket and buys the newspaper.
He has been playing the same lottery numbers for 17 years, promising to buy Maryvonne and her daughter, who suffers from asthma, an apartment by the sea from his lottery winnings, which he hopes for every week. His routine changes when he has to train a new driver named Alain, who causes him some nerves. Then, when they have to make a delivery to a place outside Paris, François’ whole life tips over in one fell swoop.
Nettoyage à sec (Dry Cleaning) is only the second comic album by Belgian cartoonist Joris Mertens, who has worked as a set designer, art director, illustrator, graphic designer, storyboarder and photographer for 25 years. But he presents an album that is more than convincing both from the narrative and the drawings.
The whole story takes place in just a few days in rainy Paris, and the reflections of neon signs and car lights in the wet put the reader in the mood for the heroes of the story. It is as if the weather gives us a foretaste of the change of fate of the participants, which in its monotony and with its worries seems nevertheless predictable, even if unchangeable and at least a little bit happy.
The album was published in April 2022 by Rue de Sevres and costs €25,-.