Summer is the time for comics and graphic novels. They are an easier read when hanging out by the pool, or on the beach, than that 624 page whopper you finally have some time for, now that it’s the holidays.
Comic Books & Graphic Novels
From Mad Magazine, The Beano, Billy Bunter and Asterix while growing up . . . to Charles Adams, Robert Crumb’s Kafka, Maus and Persepolis as an adult . . . comic books, and more recently, longer more complex graphic novels, are a delight. As culture has moved from being a print to a visual one, great novels like The Three Musketeers or Proust’s In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way are now available in comic book versions. The trend is growing and business is booming. Those literati who turn their noses up at them are missing out!
Newspapers picked up on the attraction of the comic strip a century decades ago. More recently bloggers have been getting in on the act with comicblogs. (Garfield minus Garfield and Simon’s Cat are favourites.)
Enterprising, indie French publisher, Massot Éditions, has pulled off a clever publishing coup by releasing Un Autre Regard (Other Ways of Seeing) based on blogger Emma’s comic strip. (Her facebook community numbers over 200,000 fans.) Her take on news stories and accepted “truths” – be they on law and order, immigration, feminism, holidays, sexism at work, giving birth, or the clitoris – challenges the status quo and questions what liberté, égalité, fraternité really means in France today.
We’re all going on a summer holiday . . .
Back at work from maternity leave, when Emma tells her colleagues she is off to Brittany, they tease her for taking another holiday. *Joke* She remembers how childbirth, and the pain and exhaustion that follow, not helped by medical attitudes, are anything but restful.
Her bum’s bigger than mine . . .
On the beach with her boyfriend, Emma is irritated by his comments about a bather’s cellulite. In a culture which treats girls as sex objects, anything goes. Her body is commodified and reduced to bit parts up for grabs to be bought and sold. Barbie is anything but empowered.
They don’t care about us
Interior decorator Mohammed shares a studio in St Denis with his friend and fellow Egyptian. The building opposite is raided by the police hunting down terror suspects. Terrified they’ll be arrested, the pair run and hide, but they are found. Handcuffed to a bed for four days, interrogated, and finally released, Mohammed can no longer work as he has lost the use of his arm. He is put on a list of people ordered to leave France: WHY is unclear.
Twenty-four-year-old Adama and his brother are strolling down the road near where they live in Beaumont sur Oise. Stopped by the cops, as Adama does not have his ID on him, he does a runner. Caught by the cops he dies en route for custody. Police brutality is not just endemic in America. (US police killed more than 1,000 people last year, almost 300 of whom were black, according to ‘The Counted’, a tracker by The Guardian.) Amnesty International has warned of “a pattern of de facto impunity” with regard to law enforcement officials in France. Campaign groups and media estimates suggest there are 10 to 15 deaths a year linked to the police in France, the homeland of democracy and liberty.
The human problems of an increasingly reactionary western civilisation which Emma flags up are not going away any time soon, quite the contrary. President Trump has openly referred to women as “aesthetically pleasing objects” thereby condoning their objectification. He has told the police: “Don’t be too nice to suspects” thereby endorsing brutality. And his remarks made following the Charlottesville protests draw a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and anti-fascists. As Britain heads towards Brexit it is likely the “special relationship” with the US will intensify; along with all manner of subterfuge and denial from poodle politicians in the British government.
Un Autre Regard (Other Ways of Seeing) is a French book ripe for translation which deserves to be made available for an English-reading audience. The comic strip format enables Emma to convey her ideas fast and effectively, reaching the most readers possible. She asks who the forces of law and order are protecting in reality. Who indeed? What do YOU think?
Un Autre Regard (Other Ways of Seeing) by Emma | Massot Editions | May 2017 £10.99 PB 110pages | ISBN: 9791097160036
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