Hello Folks! As a French native, I started reading comic books in my mother tongue, oeuf course! So today, I want to share with the comic books that changed my life in the year 2000.
I had finished my degree and I was at the beginning of my professional career. I was not the happiest chap on Earth, I can tell you right now.
So, I needed a bit of colour in my life so I turned towards comic books, a genre I had not read in years. I had been fed with Tintin, Asterix and Obelix, and Lucky Luke in my younger years but I needed something else, something less ‘classic’.
I went to the local bookshop and met a young salesman who knew a lot about comic books. Meeting him was a breath of fresh air. I owe him the knowledge of comics that I have acquired so far.
As of today, I don’t know what happened to that young man, he obviously changed job and in any case, I changed country. But what follows is a tribute to him. Who knows? Perhaps he will read this article!
Let’s start with John Blacksad, a private detective who is also not the happiest soul on earth. He looks like Philip Marlowe, except he is a cat. A black cat. Yes, you read correctly. He is a very tall black cat, dressed in a grey suit and wearing a hat. He is a classy gentleman.
Blacksad was created by Spanish author Juan Diaz Canales and Spanish artist Juanjo Guarnido. This comic album series consists so far of five volumes, in the following chronological order:
1. Somewhere within the shadows
2. Arctic Nation
3. Red Soul
4. A Silent Hell
The first 4 volumes are fantastic. The 5th one is, for me, a disappiontment. A sixth and a seventh volume are expected, but as of 2019, no issue date has been set yet.
The adventures of Blacksad are clearly set in a film noir atmosphere, and they take place in the United States during the 1950s. He is a typical anti-hero, with whom you can, of course, only identify and empathise with.
His outlook on society and all its evils is, somewhat, realistic and rather cynical. This comic book is, in my opinion, a must-have.
I can’t wait for the two next additions to come out. Needless to say, I will let you know when that happens.
If you have never been to Venezia, hurry up before the next acqua alta! But before you book that trip, you will want to read about two great characters, whose relationship is the Elisabeth Taylor-Richard Burton type.
Giuseppe and Sophia meet in Venice, Italy, and hate each other from there. And I can reassure you that their relationship gets funnier and funnier after their first encounter!
Giuseppe Pintorello works for Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, while Sophia Cantabella follows the orders of King Francis I of France.
The action takes place in Venice, during the sixteenth century: Venice and her water, her palaces, her pigeons and … her spies!
This is what Sophia and Giuseppe are: spies. Each of them has a secret identity well disguised, which makes the circumstances throughout the two volumes of this comic album series hilarious!
Stereo Club consists of three volumes, which is a shame, if you ask me. This comic book is so funny and heartwarming. It revolves around a music shop, called Le Stéréo Club.
The first volume, titled ‘Britney Forever’, tells the story of a guy named Guy (sorry, I couldn’t help it!), a fan of jazz music who realizes that he has failed his life miserably: his wife is cheating on him – devastating in itself – but even more harrowing, his daughter adores Britney Spears.
Back at home, he clumsily walks on one of her daughter’s CDs and has to go to the music shop in order to replace the broken disc. As a jazz music fan, he can surely only feel shame for having to buy a CD from this artist. Or, is he?
Each volume focuses on another character being a customer of the Stereo Club. That shop is a social metaphor for life. It is beautiful.
Les Blattes is a way of saying The Beatles with a very strong French accent. To me, Les Blattes is also a masterpiece, as all the comic books I will write about here.
Fred, Tom and Jean-Louis have created a heavy metal band, called Les Blattes. I think that was is heavy here, is the electric guitar of Jean-Louis.
Because, for what it’s worth, this trio is composed of losers. They are bad musicians, and they don’t know it. They keep on having to drive their dilapidated van in order to get to a concert. Except they never reach their destination, for reasons as intelligent as: they don’t know how to read a map, or they leave their cave too late. Yes, they practice in a cave, and you can decently not call that a basement.
It is a very funny comic book. It is a slapstick comic book. Ideal for the long and dark evenings of the month of December.
Chiffon makes me think of a lighthearted and more colorful version of Calvin and Hobbes. Chiffon was created by American author David Gilbert. Chiffon is the only English-speaking comic book of this Top 5.
Chiffon is the nicest and wittiest dog on Earth, who will share with you some of his metaphysical views on life. He belongs to two children, Paul and Julie. He hates the vet and he is a magnificent singer!
CHRISTMAS IS COMING
Some of this Top 5 were translated in English, others were not. But learning French while reading comics is not the worse thing you could start doing in 2020, or even, in front of the Christmas tree!
Let me know how it goes!