The tragedies of the past week and a half have been devastating. I studies abroad in France and woke on Saturday morning to a map of France and a Parisian Coke-a-cola advertisement hanging on my walls. So here are a few classic French comics to highlight in your collections.
Astérix le Gaulois
Written by René Goscinny
Illustrated by Albert Uderzo
This French comic classic, first published in 1959, withstands the test of time. I doubt there is a single French high school course which hasn’t read a bit of this book. Astérix explores the ancient people of France, the Gauls, which if you’ve grown up outside of Europe, you probably have never have heard of. The story follow Astérix, a leader of their village’s affairs, and Obelix, who has super human strength due to a druid’s magical potion. The potion is often used by the villagers to fend of the invading Julius Caesar. Masterfully written with vibrant, expressive illustrations, Astérix is a must read for anyone interested in French classic comics.
The Adventures of Tintin
Written and illustrated by Hergé
Although technically a Belgian comic, Tintin is one of the most popular Euro-style comics in the French language. The story, which ran for over 50 years, follows the young journalist Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy as they investigate mysteries all over the world. Artistically, the style is realistic, intended to whisk the reader away to faraway lands without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. From Egypt to the Soviet Union and even the moon, Tintin is a classical character in science fiction, fantasy, and dramatic tales.
By Jean-Claude Forest
I personally think that Barbarella gets a bad rap in modern comic’s readership. Forest had intended Barbarella to be a character which embodied the sexual revolution of the 1960s. That in addition to the already hyper sexualized notion of the French seems to provide a double negative for the more conservative reader. However, it is a great summation of the open mindedness of the French and the sexual liberties afforded to women of the era. The English adaptations were recently redone by Kelly Sue Deconnick, which makes them an even more intriguing read.
Anything by artist Moebius (aka Jean Giraud)
Moebius is one of the most acclaimed graphic novel artists of all time. From his start with western comic strips, to working with Stan Lee on a Silver Surfer comic, and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s fantasy story, L’Incal, Moebius’ realistic art style shines. As people become familiar with his work, they may make the leap to other media; Moebius also did storyboards many films including Alien, Tron, and the Abyss. Not only has Moebius contributed to many medias, but readers will also start noticing his influence on other artist as well.
By Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette
Adapted into a film in 2013, Snowpiercer is perhaps the most relevant story in reaction to the tragedies in Paris and across the world last week. In Snowpiercer, a large train is the only refuge in a world frozen over. With a maximum capacity, it is important to maintain the balance of people in the train, dividing the cars up by class and status; the rich in the front, the poor in the back. This story is a tome for the social justice movement and how, even at the end of the world, humans tend to base each others worth on extraneous things like money, race, and age.
What’s your favorite French comic?