Joba and Vanessa asked about what European cartoonists inspired me. When I was first went to Paris in 1995 for a community college art scholarship, I scoured the bande dessinée shops and was disappointed to find that France had a glut of science fiction and fantasy books like the US has superheroes. Then I stumbled upon a series of 24 page pamphlets published by Cornelius, including David B.’s Le Nain Jaune. I constantly poured over David’s work, and included it (along with Dylan Horrocks and Tom Hart) in Chunky’s sacred stash. His epic Epileptic is translated into English and may be my favorite graphic novels ever.
The first French cartoonist whose work I was able to appreciate in English was the inspired Lewis Trondheim. We met during his US tour in 2000 and he was generous enough to invite me to visit him in Montpellier in early 2001. Here’s a sketch of his studio then. Of course, you’ll see more of him in the pages of my Carnet.
Also seen in Carnet is Blutch. I am a slobbering fanboy for his virtuoso drawing. My work has been criticized for ripping off his style; and while the influence may be apparent, I am an amateur in the shadow of this master. Unfortunately, only short pieces of his have been translated to English in the Drawn & Quarterly anthology.
Another master is Baudoin. We met at the Haarlem comics festival outside of Amsterdam. He was vibrant and full of energy, dancing and sketching everywhere. Watching the lines flow from his brush is fairly heartbreaking. We had an enthusiastic and clumsy conversation in our foreign tongues, and Baudoin drew this doodle on the left side of my sketchbook to describe the experience of moving away from his hometown of Nice. On the right, I scribbled out my own story that brought me to France.
I’ve spent enough time in Paris now that I’ll randomly run into people I know in the streets. This happened once with Charles Berberian on his birthday along the canal. Charles always impresses me with his kindness and pure “well-adjustedness”, in contrast to us neurotic American cartoonists. Lucky for all us monolingual Americans, his and Philippe Dupuy’s work has been published in two pretty volumes from Drawn and Quarterly: Get a Life and Maybe Later. Here’s Charles (right) and my Dutch publisher “Uncle” Hansje (middle) in the Netherlands.
One French cartoonist I’ll never have the chance to meet is Aristophane who tragically died at age 37. His “heaven” book Les Soeurs Zabîme and “hell” book Conte Démoniaque give me the shivers.
Other Frenchy favorites: Sfar, Christophe Blain, Nicolas De Crécy, Nina (Une par une), Capucine, Guy Delisle, Frederik Peeters (Swiss)
In Italy: Igort, Mattotti, Gipi ~ In Spain: Munoz, Max ~ In Germany: Martin Tom Dieck, Anke Feuchetenberger… and definitely seek out this book: Cargo/comics journalism Israel-Germany