This is a super-crappy photo, but it was the best one I got from the City of Glass talk at Comic Arts Brooklyn this past Saturday. That’s Art Spiegelman in the middle, with the beard. It was so cool to see him in person! The tall guy behind him is Paul Karasik, the shorter guy is David Mazzucchelli. The author of City of Glass, Paul Auster, is hidden behind the big head in the foreground. They were all on the panel together and it was really interesting to hear them talk about the genesis of City of Glass, the challenges in making it, and discussing such things as the significance of the panel layout. (Those arms taking a photograph belong to Francoise Mouly, btw!)
Later on I saw a talk by Jeff Smith. He mainly discussed his process, which was very informative. He also talked a bit about some of the challenges of producing Bone. Originally he was trying to sell it as a daily comic strip, and one of the syndicates advised him to take all the magic stuff out!
I also saw a panel discussion with several young comic artists including Katie Skelly, whose comics I bought later. I read her new series, Operation Margarine, on the bus ride back to Toronto and it’s really enjoyable.
I also enjoyed walking around Williamsburg, even though it was pretty cold! I got some delicious lunch from Saltie!
I just got back from New York. I went there for Illustration Week. I had a great time and met some cool people. I’ll probably post a few things about it over the next few days.
some handy tips for drawing men that look like men and women that look like women:
- on average, a man’s shoulders should be around 2.5 to 3 heads wide. a woman’s shoulders should be infinite, extending like an eternal flesh ribbon into the howling vortex of time and space
- men do NOT have body hair. men have NO hair. men are genetically incapable of growing hair. stop drawing hairy men. stop drawing men altogether. men do NOT exist
- DON’T forget the luxurious pelt that all women sport, grown from birth and increasing in length indefinitely until death, typically attaining lengths of up to three metres
- women have wider hips than men, who have no hips at all, only negative space and mc escher optical illusions
- remember, men and women have different sex characteristics. men have flat chests, tails, and 23 gherkins. women have a narrow waist, known as a “wasp waist”, two pairs of wings, and either an ovipositor or a stinger
- women are WASPS
- they’re fucking BUGS you piece of SHIT
- †† ＦＯＬＬＯＷ ＦＯＲ ＭＯＲＥ ＣＥＮＴＲＡＬ ＷＡＳＰ ＭＯＮＯＬＩＴＨ ††
Today I will be sharing with you a discovery I made on my trip to Switzerland this summer. Kerascoet & Hubert were completely unknown to me before I stumbled upon their latest, brilliant work in the comic book store I make a point of visiting whenever I go to Yverdon-Les-Bains.
Beaute (“Beauty” in French) is the story of Morue, a young outcast with unfortunate looks. She has bulging eyes, ears that stick out, limp hair, and smells strongly of fish. Her life as an indentured servant is bleak. She dreams of finding love and acceptance, but is the butt of joke after joke in her little village.
When her tears release Mab, the faerie queen, from her enchantment, the sarcastic Mab grants her the illusion of beauty—-and not just any beauty, but Beauty as only the faeries can bestow, the beauty for which men lose all self-control. Worse still, every attempt Morue makes to reject their advances is seen as seductive; her anger, fear, and despair is relentlessly sexualized.
This also means that Morue becomes hated by the women in her village, who are unable to mar the faerie’s gift in order to win their husbands back:
This is more than Morue bargains for, and matters are further complicated when, with Mab’s ever present urging, Morue finds herself married to the king.
Over the course of three books, Morue must face the consequences of her naivetee and immaturity, which because of her great beauty become weapons of mass destruction as armies go to war for her and the jealousies of her lovers become homicidal. Her beauty quickly becomes a curse, and she must discover the secret to Mab’s power.
Beaute is honestly the best fairytale I have read in a long time. It succeeds where so many have failed here in America. From a story-telling perspective, the characters are beautifully flawed and it is hard to put the book down. I found myself alternately laughing hysterically and fighting back tears. One thing I especially love about Kerascoet’s characters is their expressions—-and this can be said about many french comics——he is not afraid to distort and charicaturize his female characters’ faces as they move through a full range of expressions.
I was under the impression that after Morue received the faerie glamour we would only see her as her “beautiful” self, but Kerascoet reserves that side of her mostly for when we are gazing at her from a male perspective. In these panels, Morue says little and is usually a passive object—-the rest of the time, Morue is active and chatty, and obviously has an inner life. Her immaturity is wonderfully contrasted by her sister in law, a big-nosed spinster who manages her brother’s kingdom and ends up finding love on the battlefield as a lady-knight:
I wish I’d had these comics as a young girl. So little fantasy, and so few comics, portray women as complicated characters with story-lines independent of the men in their life. There is so much for girls to relate to in Morue—-I don’t know any women who haven’t felt ashamed of their bodies and looks at least at some point in their lives, who haven’t felt the desire to fit in and fit an impossible standard of beauty that society tells us is the only measure of our worth. What girl hasn’t come to the realization that "beauty" and all that comes with it is fucking complicated and scary? What teenage girl doesn’t come to the realization that her beauty and sexuality can be used against her? What girl hasn’t heard some form of victim blaming, when men and boys believe their desires are not their own responsibility? The men in Beaute may seem like they are under a spell, but I think Kerascoet & Hubert make it clear that they are just entitled and telling themselves what they want to hear—-the same way rapists do in real life.
It’s a highly stylized, exaggerated, mythical and fairy-tale version of the male-dominated, sexually hostile world girls wake up to, and I think watching Morue navigate it at great peril to herself and her loved ones is cathartic for the reader to follow. Modern parents may want to wait before buying these books for their children; there are some seriously dark, upsetting themes (rape, murder, suicide, torture) but Kerascoet raises questions about desire that certainly teenagers must grapple with, and I think encouraging a child to read these comics critically, with an eye for what’s there between the lines, could be a very empowering experience.
These are glorious hard-bound full color Bande Dessinee. They’re big and beautiful like all BD should be, but Kerascoet’s art is breath-taking cover to cover. After reading Beaute I have a new standard for how color should look in comics. Every page leaves me in awe.
I HOPE an English translation comes out soon. Maybe some of my comics friends can talk to their publishers about this, but they are worth buying for the art alone, and if you have any interest in learning french, reading french comics are an excellent way to do so.
The best option I have found so far for buying BDs is BDnet, and here is the link to buying all three Beaute books. If anyone needs advice on navigating their french-language checkout process, you are more than welcome to ask me. If anyone has a better resource I’d love to hear from you.
okay, i need these in my life.
In case anyone is interested, other works by these creators have been translated to english and can be purchased on amazon. Right here.
The translated series is called “Miss don’t touche me” and it’s about a girl enrolling in a prostitute house to find her sister’s murderer which leads her to uncover a huge conspiracy.
I’m a huge fan of all their comics and anyone wanting to draw comics or do graphic design has a mighty need to see these. Trust me. Secondlina out.
Yes. It’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and everybody lives happily ever after.
Check out what I did. It’s based on a character description my sister wrote for a story she’s working on.