For their December Euro Comics show, Pascal and Derek discuss two recent French titles in translation. They begin with Thierry Smolderen and Jean-Philippe Bramanti’s McCay(Titan Comics), a surreal narrative surrounding the life of comics legend Windsor McCay. But this work is not a biography. Smolderen takes historical moments in McCay’s life and from those weaves a fantastical tale that includes noir intrigue, metafictional elements, and the fourth dimension. After that the guys turn to the three volumes of Yann and Alain Henriet’s Bear’s Tooth (Cinebook). Each of the three works — Max, Hanna, and Werner— is based on one of the three protagonists in this World War II tale. As Pascal reveals, Yann and Henriet’s follow up to this series (not yet translated) continues the storyline, but with strange alternate history twist.
Pascal and Derek are back with the latest Euro Comics episode…the very late November show. They begin with Edmond Baudoin’s Piero (New York Review Comics). This is a fascinating and moving memoir — or better yet, a series of remembrances — from Baudoin and his relationship with his younger brother Pierre, or Piero. While the title and the story itself would lead one to believe that this is the story of Edmond’s younger brother, it’s actually a narrative that focuses on the author himself. Edmond, or Momon, as he’s called in the book, is at the center of this text, and he’s explored and defined within the context of his brother and their relationship, especially as it concerns art and illustration.
After that, the Two Guys turn to Jacques Ferrandez’s adaptation of Albert Camus’s The First Man (Pegasus Books). This isn’t the first time the guys have discussed Ferrandez’s adaptation. In July 2016, Derek and Gene looked at his graphic version of Camus’s The Stranger. This book is similarly moving, but in many ways denser and more pensive than the earlier adaptation. The First Man was the manuscript that Camus was working on at the time of his death, dying in a car accident. The unfinished work, and intended masterpiece, was finally published in the 1990s, but Ferrandez’s text doesn’t really feel like an uncompleted manuscript. This is quite a prose-heavy book, and philosophical in the way that Camus’s essays and fiction were thought-provoking. Derek and Pascal didn’t plan this when they chose these two books, but The First Man and Piero have a lot in common: thoughtful, pensive, and narratives scaffolded around memories and the past.
On this episode of the Euro Comics series, Pascal and Derek look at the first three books of Riad Sattouf’s series, The Arab of the Future. Each of these volumes is thick in content, giving the guys a lot to discuss. And while they do a bit of close reading in their discussion, much of what Pascal and Derek do is provide larger overviews, focusing on themes, narrative structures, aesthetic choices, and cultural contexts. In fact, Pascal had read each of these books originally in French — indeed, he is now in the middle of reading the fourth volume that is already available in France — so he provides some of the context that might escape American readers. Both of the guys are bowled away by this series, and they eagerly await the continuation of this graphic memoir…and other translated works by Sattouf.
On the July episode of the Euro Comics series — actually being released in early August — Pascal and Derek discuss two beautiful texts. They begin with David B.’s Hasib and the Queen of Serpents: A Tale of a Thousand and One Nights(NBM Publishing), an incredible adaptation of one of the tales in the classic work. The guys point out the attention-gragging handling of Scheherazade “Queen of Serpents” story, but what stands out in this text is David B.’s illustrations, colors, and design. The creator is able both to translate the story into comics with much fidelity and to give the tale his own spin that is recognizable to any fan of David B.’s work (Epilepticis a case in point).
Next, Derek and Pascal jump into Alejandro Jodorowsky and Francois Boucq’s Moon Face (Humanoids). This isn’t the first time that this creative team has been discussed on the podcast, the first time being the December 2016 show with Bouncer(and, with Boucq, his work with Jerome Charyn). The guys spend a lot of time discussing the wild ride of Jodorowsky’s story — and this as a defining characteristic throughout much of his oeuvre. It is all over the place, yet compelling. But one of the things that marks Moon Face is Boucq’s art. While readers can appreciate Jodorowsky’s writing, it is Boucq who stands out, arguably as the biggest strength in this text.
On this month’s Euro Comics episode, Pascal and Derek discuss two recent French-language translations. They begin with Zep’s A Strange and Beautiful Sound, the second of his books released through IDW Publishing. This is a story of a Carthusian monk who, because of a dead relative’s last will and testament, reenters the everyday world after 26 years of seclusion. The art and colors of this narrative are quite striking, and while the subject matter is significantly different from his previous A Story of Men, both Pascal and Derek find a common style between these two texts.
Next, they check out the latest work in Dark Horse’s Moebius Library, Inside Moebius, Part 2. The guys begin by contextualizing the first part of this improvisational journal, released earlier this year, and then go into detail about Part 2. This second book is much more metafiction and self-referential than Part 1, but like the first installment, it includes multiple representations of the author himself, along with encounters with his most notable creations, Arzach, Major Grubert and Malvina, Stel and Atan, and of course Lieutenant Blueberry. The text is free-flowing and surreal, but this is what makes Moebius’s self-investigation so notable. Both guys eagerly await the third and final part of Inside Moebius later this fall.
This week, Pascal (of the Euro Comics series) joins Derek on the weekly review show to discuss the two omnibi collections of The Escapist from Dark Horse Books. They look at both Michael Chabon’sThe Escapist: Amazing Adventures (which was released this past February) as well as the latest collection, Michael Chabon’sThe Escapist: Pulse-Pounding Thrills, published in wide release this week. The two guys discuss the faux history that Chabon and a variety of writers and artists have created, wedging this narrative into our recognizable comic-book history. They’re not able to discuss all of the selections in these two collections — between both volumes, there are almost 50 Escapist stories, some never before published — but they focus on many of the pieces that stand out to them. Among the Escapists stories they cover are those by such notable creators as Will Eisner, Eduardo Barreto, Jeffrey Brown, Howard Chaykin, Paul Gulacy, Jeff Parker, Marv Wolfman, Thomas Yeates, Brian K. Vaughan, Kyle Baker, Gene Colan, Matt Kindt, Kevin McCarthy, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jim Starlin, among many others.
For the May Euro Comics episode, Pascal and Derek discuss three very different works in translation…but all of which are primarily in black-and-white. They begin with Esteban Maroto’s Lovecraft: The Myth of Cthulhu(IDW Publishing), an adaptation of three of H. P. Lovecraft’s short stories: “The Nameless City,” “The Festival,” and “The Call of Cthulhu.” All three are part of the writer’s Cthulhu mythos, and the guys comment on Maroto’s illustrative style and how it reflects that found in 1970s Warren publications, to which Maroto actually contributed (although not these stories).
Next, they discuss Olivia Burton and Mahi Grand’s Algeria Is Beautiful Like America(Lion Forge). This is a memoir of Burton’s journey to Algeria, particularly Algiers and the Aurès Mountains, to visit the land of her mother and grandparents. In many ways, this is a narrative all about identity, in that the author attempts to understand the land of her forebears in order to better understand herself. This is a striking autobiographical work, but as the Two Guys point out, it’s unusual that a memoir such as this is written and illustrated by different creators.
The guys wrap up this month’s episode by visiting a book that is close to Pascal’s heart, André Franquin’s Die Laughing (Fantagraphics Books). This is a collection of Franquin’s Idées noires strips, which are strikingly different from his earlier work in Spirou or his Gaston and Marsupilami comics. As Derek and Pascal point out, these are more serious and foreboding pieces that reflect a dark peri0d in Franquin’s life. And while many of these strips are politically poignant, they are nonetheless timeless and are just as fresh today as when they were first created during the 1970s and 1980s.
This month Pascal and Derek look at two recent books that, while strikingly different in their storytelling approaches, are both insightful examinations of the socio-historical forces that shape individuals’ lives. They begin with Pénélope Bagieu’s Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World (First Second), a collection of 29 short biographies profiling women throughout history who have pushed back and defined themselves on their own terms. This book began as a series of webcomics that appeared on Le Monde‘s blog between January and October 2016. There was actually one original entry, a biographical look at Phulan Devi, that didn’t make it into the American text, and the guys speculate as to why this might have been.
After that they discuss Yvan Alagbé’s Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures, just released from New York Review Comics. This is a much less conventional collection, at least in terms of its narrative and visual styles. The book includes seven short pieces that were originally created between 1995 and 2017. The title story is the longest, and most sophisticated, of the bunch, but Pascal and Derek also spend some time focusing on “The Suitcase” and “Postcard from Montreuil.” What almost all of the stories in this book focus on, in one way or another, is France’s colonialist past and its ramifications to this day.
For the March episode of the Euro Comics series, Pascal Hamon joins Derek to discuss two recent books from NBM Graphic Novels. They begin with Étienne Davodeau’s The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan ExchangeJobs, an autobiographical account of the artist and his friend’s mutual education on what the other does. As Pascal points out, the majority of this narrative concerns Davodeau learning about winemaking and literally getting his hands dirty during the process. Not as much space is given to his friend, Richard Leroy, as he is initiated into the comics industry in France, but this makes sense, given the fact that Davodeau is the author of this account and spends a lot of time revealing what he has learned.
After that, Pascal and Derek discuss Satania,the most recent collaboration between Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët. Their earlier book, Beautiful Darkness, was actually something discussed on the Euro Comics episode in January of last year. This is a similarly fantastical narrative and is, in fact, quite a bit wilder than the earlier book. On the literal level, this is a journey underground, but the guys read this text as more of a psychological narrative. Its young protagonist, Charlotte, while searching for her lost older brother is nonetheless coming to terms with her own issues as she becomes a grown woman. And, of course, Kerascoët’s art is mesmerizing.
This marks the debut of Pascal as the new cohost for the Euro Comics series, taking over from Edward while he is on hiatus. Please be sure to contact the Two Guys and welcome Pascal to the podcast!