ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
One day I'll write this long, self-indulgent post about all the ways in which comics were and are important to me. It will be filled with anecdotes telling fun childhood moments and adventures of the teenaged Emo!RatCreature (all probably slightly embellished in my memory over time, the way anecdotes tend to be), like the one about the comic which gave me the final push to realize that I am truly an atheist, on the night before my confirmation no less. In case you're wondering, it was "Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel" by Grzegorz Rosinski (artist) and Jean Van Hamme, in the German translation though. (I felt actually awfully guilty for lying while saying the Credo in that ceremony, I mean, at that point I knew I didn't believe, whereas when I started with the lessons two years earlier I was merely unsure, and I still said the opposite in a religious ceremony, which kind of felt disrespectful.)

Or the one with the comic workshop for teenagers which I found through a flyer in the public library, where I met kids from really different backgrounds and ventured into areas of the city I had never been to alone before. You see, the flyer didn't make that clear to me then, but looking back I realize that this was actually intended as some social project to prevent "at risk" kids from hanging out on the streets and doing drugs, or something like that. Which was why it was first at this inner city culture center near the central station and later at some slightly run-down youth center that had band practice rooms and billiard tables, a ton of anti-drug posters, and these postings with rules that spelled out that you'd be thrown out if you brought alcohol, drugs or weapons inside, and it was all very strange for me (but hey, it didn't cost anything, unlike "art courses" and things like that). Anyway, despite that the workshop was run by a social worker and an art pedagogue together, they never made it feel like a social project, which I guess is important in that line of work (because which teenager would want that?), and most likely something these people learn in their training for working with teenagers or something. Anyway, despite that slight feeling of being out of place, and the fact that I was also one of the youngest and one of only two girls, I learned a lot during the IIRC almost two years I went there, and I had far more fun there than with, say, my classmates who weren't comic fans. Besides it actually resulted in me finishing some comics, being part of an exhibition at a local comic festival (even if it was as a "youth project thing"), and a zine publication (also I never got my originals back from that exhibition *grrr*).

Other fun moments would be young RatCreature travelling alone for the first time to visit a comic con, listening to public university lectures for the first time because the culture studies department did a lecture series on comic art (I didn't understand half of the stuff these people were talking about, despite actually daring to ask questions), creating comics for the school paper, making stickers from cartoons mocking teachers, and distributing them throughout school (that really helped my popularity quite a bit I think)...

Um yes, actually this post was supposed to have another point, namely that I wanted to talk about the comics I liked well before I started reading superhero comics. There are a ton of those of course, some of which I listed some years ago in a post that was actually part of a discussion involving lists of books and stuff, but this is besides the point as well (all comics on that list are well worth reading btw, even though I don't believe in the value of trying to assemble lists of literary canon or reading lists assigning value that way in general, which is why I have disclaimed that list like mad back then too).

Anyway, I finally come to what was supposed to be the content of this post, i.e. André Franquin. I have actually no idea how famous he is outside of Europe, but considering that he was one of the most influential comic artists of the Franco-Belgian style, that he created the Marsupilami and Gaston Lagaffe I can't imagine that he isn't well known. Despite that, I actually couldn't find an English edition of his Idées Noires in a casual search, and if there truly wasn't one that would be rather sad.

I don't own an edition of the French Idées Noires, only a German translation, so I couldn't show you scans of the original, however if you read French, some of the pages are available on the official Idées Noires site I linked above. The humor in them can be rather bleak, sometimes cynical, and sometimes even depressing, despite being funny. When you read interviews or biographies the question inevitable pops up whether the Idées Noires are an outgrowth of the depression with which Franquin struggled and which caused him to be unable to work for some times during his career, in the same way that people look fo ways in which the depression might show in the Spirou and Fantasio comic QRN sur Bretzelburg (Franquin stopped working on it between 1961 and 1963), or in the ways Gaston got progressively darker.

Originally most of the Idées Noires were published from 1977 to 1982, first in Trombone Illustré (a Spirou magazine supplement) then in Fluide Glacial until his depression caused him to stop drawing. Behind the cut are scans of ten pages I like a lot, with a translation (I can't guarantee for its total faithfulness to the original, seeing how I only have a German translation of the French to go on).

page scans from the Idées Noires )

October 2017

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