Vive la France!

It’s Bastille Day, so I thought I’d put together a quick list of some of my favorite comics by French creators and some of my favorite comics set in France. It’s tough, because so many of them are so great, but I’ll try not to go overboard. Off the top of my head, here are some of my favorite comics by French writers and artists:

  • Aya, written by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie (Drawn & Quarterly): Wonderfully funny and thoughtful multigenerational soap opera about coming of age in the Ivory Coast of the 1970s.
  • Little Nothings, written and illustrated by Lewis Trondheim (NBM): Really terrific slice-of-life and observational humor from a wonderful cartoonist.
  • The Rabbi’s Cat, written and illustrated by Joann Sfar (Pantheon): A rabbi in Algeria finds his cat can talk, and the cat has no shortage of distressing philosophical opinions.
  • Klezmer, written and illustrated by Joann Sfar (First Second): I really like Sfar, what can I say? I even liked Vampire Loves, and I usually hate vampire comics. When are we going to get more of this wonderful tale of Jewish musicians in Eastern Europe?
  • Get a Life, written and illustrated by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian: Why haven’t there been more collections of Monsieur Jean stories published in English? This one’s a treasure.
  • Glacial Period, written and illustrated by Nicolas de Crécy (NBM): Still my favorite of the comics created in conjunction with the Louvre. (Holy crap, NBM is going to publish Salvatore this winter! My wish came true!)
  • My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill, written by Jean Regnaud and illustrated by Émille Bravo (Fanfare/Ponent Mon): Deservedly nominated for a few Eisner Awards this year,
  • Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, written and illustrated by various creators (Fanfare/Ponent Mon): Half of this book constitutes an invasion of Japan by various wonderful French comic artists. The other half is wonderful Japanese comic artists telling stories about their hometowns. There is no losing in this book. I’d love to see the same group take on France as Viewed by 17 Creators.
  • And here are a couple of comics set in France that I really like:

  • Paris, written by Andi Watson and illustrated by Simon Gane (SLG): This tale of young women in love in the Paris of the 1920s is so gorgeous it almost hurts.
  • Gerard and Jacques, written and illustrated by Fumi Yoshinaga (Blu): Over time, I’ve willfully forgotten the fact that this series opens with coercive sex, because I love watching the characters natter at each other in between bouts of steamy, consensual congress.
  • What did I forget? Or what should I look into? What about comics from or set in France that have yet to be translated? Between their indigenous talent and the volume of licensed manga they enjoy, the French are sick with awesome comics.

    6 Responses to Vive la France!

    1. I loved Toxic Planet, released in the US last year by Yen Press!

    2. hoodedzippy says:

      what about the classic, Asterix?

    3. John Jakala says:

      I’m dying for some more Sfar. Help me out here, First Second! (There is Sfar’s adaptation of The Little Prince coming out in Oct. but I’d prefer more Klezmer myself.)

    4. Boncefest says:

      Florence Cestac did a bio of Charlie Schlingo, once described to me as noted for having been thrown out of every bar in Paris. Can’t quite remember the title, possibly ‘I’d kill myself but I haven’t got the time’.

    5. JennyN says:

      A little late to the party, but – so many!

      “Mary la Noire / Black Mary” by Florence Magnin (female BD creators are still relatively rare in France) about a female pirate and the Byronic-style male romance novelist who loves her, set in an imaginary 19th-century Britain

      “L’Heritage d’Emilie / Emily’s Inheritance”, also by Magnin – Irish fairies, science fiction and a love story, all starting from the 1920s

      “Fog” by Bonin and Seiter – detective stories which tend to veer into the supernatural, in a very distinctive graphic style, in late Victorian London (and with an independent-minded, intelligent heroine to boot)

      “Neve” – Lepage and Dieter: a boy grows from adolescence to young manhood in contemporary France, with side-trips to Ireland, Nepal and the French West Indies, trying to come to terms with his father’s death and his own nature

      “Candelabres” by Algesiras – manga-influenced fantasy, set in modern Paris

      “Le Bois des Vierges” – Dufax and Tillier (one volume to date): romance, vengeance and magic, in a world where Beasts and Humans share the culture of 17th-century France

      “Fees et Tendres Automates” – Tillier and Tehy: a retelling of the Hans Andersen story about the tin soldier and the dancer, with stunning artwork in the first two volumes particularly (the third is definitely an anti-climax)

      “Volunteer” – Springer and Sevestre: vampires in the modern US

      And so many others. To anyone interested, I recommend checking out BDNet (an online store) for a wide range of both French BDs (“Albums”) or translated manga.

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