euro influences


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

14 thoughts on “euro influences

  1. Your choice of comic books sounds like the bigger part of my collection 🙂 That “Cargo” is indeed something, too bad it was out of my budget 🙁

    When were you in Haarlem? I and some friends set up an exhibition there in 2002 called “Madjoe!” (all about Indonesian comics), then I came again in 2004 (I spent 20 min. in line for Chris Ware’s signature) and 2006, before moving back to Indonesia.

  2. Hi Craig,

    As i can see, you’re still wearing your “poo” shirt 🙂 (or maybe the picture is quite old)
    I remembered that you gave me the name of your friends who made them … could you please refresh my memorie ?

    Thanks !

  3. hello craig. i’m from portland, but i live in marseille, france… i just moved about a month ago. you’ve been here… you know of any places where other friendly arty-types hang out? i just want to talk or draw with persons other than myself.
    p.s. i do love your stuff, by the way.
    p.p.s. i was in the bathroom at la passerelle comics shop and noticed that beaudoin had graffitied the wall next to the mirror. huh.

  4. hi Craig, i loved Blankets, waiting to read more of your work! and your list of the French authors are only too familiar, I’m lucky to have a french library her in my city (delhi, india) and i’ve read / seen all the books you talk about! aren’t they awesome? I’m going to bookmark your blog now. Keep going, & good luck!

  5. Funny that you mention Max as a Spanish favorite. I’m reading Blankets at the moment (it was a wonderful birthday gift a few weeks ago) and was thinking how much it reminded me of Max…

    Saludos desde Madrid! C

  6. dear craig thompson,
    I love your work so much, especially the diary, which I bought first here in austria, europe. I would love to send you some litte, dark, funny or ugly birds I have been drawing. maybe you answer. also you are always invited to stay at our little flat in vienna, if you ever come by. good luck and I am happy to see you’re working on a new book. teresa, vienna, austria, europe.

  7. Hi ! I am trying to find the cargo Israel germany comic book, but man is it ever hard to find. Did you buy yours in Europe ?

  8. Hi Craig 🙂
    First off; i want your hat :B
    haha, sorry i dont mean to sound rude ^^;
    Anyway, for christmas a close friend of mine gave me ‘Blankets’, and i have read it about 7 (or more?) times from cover to cover since then- I have to admit, i love your story, and you inspire me 🙂 You (or your younger self?) remind me somewhat of my boyfriend.. I made him read blankets, too, he thinks its adorable 🙂
    Also, i really like your art style! I draw a lot myself, tho iv been neglecting my sketchbook lately :/ I’d love it if you could look at my drawings somehow.
    Anyway! I’ll stop rambling now, iv a habit of that.. Would love to see you on tour in england (prefferably somewhere not far from yorkshire! ^^;)
    Good luck, and best wishes for 2012, i suppose 🙂

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