From our continental correspondent – 14 BD for 14 Juillet ! (part 2)
Continuing a selection of 14 French comics for the 14th (the first half is here), here are seven more insanely great French comics, starting now !
Monsieur Feraille by Winschluss and Cizo – If you combine a vitriolic feeling for satire, a fanatical knowledge of pop culture and an amazingly versatile graphical style, you get Monsieur Feraille. He is the Tin Man gone bad, Mickey Mouse when the masks come off. Monsieur Feraille embodies all that is evil in today’s society : violence, exploitation, polution and unbridled egotism.
Les Frustrés by Claire Bretécher – This series of gag strips, which started in Le Nouvel Observateur in 1973, is the ultimate chronicle of the left-wing revolutionaries of May 68. In an almost surgical way, Bretécher shows them and their failed dreams as they are : more or less educated, more or less middle-class, more or less emancipated, but above all : bored and dissatisfied.
Les Amis by François Ayroles – If ever there was a comic equivalent of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “L’enfer, c’est les autres” (“Hell, that’s all the others”), it’s this small book. Ayroles traces the friendships of a number of young men and women in a French city, and shows that social discourse is awkward by definition, nobody is honest, everybody is looking out for number one and friendship is an illusion. Check my earlier review for more.
Ma Maman Est En Amérique, Elle A Rencontreé Buffalo Bill by Jean Regnaud and Emile Bravo -Little Jean’s mother has died, and his father hasn’t had the courage to tell him. She is supposed to be in America, that mythical land of dreams and opportunities. Slowly though, Jean discovers that many of his dreams are false, and that this discovery is all part of growing up. (Fanfare/Ponent Mon published an English language edition of this too – Joe)
Un Homme Est Mort by Kris and Etienne Davodeau – After the Second World War, the city of Brest is one big (re)construction site, where thousands of workmen toil to build a city of the future. When they go on strike for better working conditions, they are met with brutal reprisals. This book shows the origins of the intense opposition between left and right, which would dominate French politics for the rest of the 20th Century.
Les Petits Ruissiaux by Rabaté – One hot summer somewhere in the French Province (i.e. not in Paris), and old man who thought his life was over and all he could expect was fishing and dying, finds adventure, new experiences and love through a series of accidental occurances. It’s a french movie on paper : talkative, slightly humorous, only registering what’s happening – a great, great comic.
La 2,333e Dimension by Marc-Antoine Mathieu – Jules Corentin Acquefacques, Mathieu’s hero, doesn’t have adventures like a normal comic book hero. Instead, he struggles with all the formal aspects of the medium : perspective, color, linearity, the confinement of the strip and the page. Formalistic to the extrem, these books never fail to be funny and exciting.
Et voila, there you have it. Fourteen BD that to me, say “France”. Naturally, I will have forgotten most of the titles that you had expected here. So, why not draw up your own list ? I’m not going anywhere.