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DUPUY & BERBERIAN dicussed on NPR's All Things Considered

Updated July 21, 2008

Americans Say Oui, Oui To Foreign Graphic Novels
by Brian Mann
NPR, All Things Considered
July 19, 2008

"Americans don't buy a lot of foreign novels, but go to any neighborhood bookstore and you'll find whole shelves devoted to international comics...

Foreign titles are rarely that successful in America, says Dedi Phelman, a senior editor at Simon Schuster and co-founder of the online magazine Words Without Borders. Only about 2 percent of books published in the U.S. are works in translation, but in the graphic novels business, more than half the titles sold here are foreign-language imports.

One foreign title that has done well in the American market is Monsieur Jean, which might best be described as a French version of an early Woody Allen film.

The Monsieur Jean stories were already bestsellers in Europe, but Charles Berberian, who created the comic with Philippe Dupuy, says cracking the the American market has opened the door for him to work on other projects.

"Selling books like Monsieur Jean gives us that kind of freedom and, of course, encourages the publishers to work with us," says Berberian.

When it comes to selling foreign titles, graphic novels enjoy some big advantages over other kinds of literature: The books only take a few hours to finish, and the visuals can allow ideas to cross cultural lines mores easily than text alone.

"I find it very natural to read," says Isaac Cates, a fan of Berberian's series. "I've never been to Paris, but the setting certainly isn't forming any kind of barrier for me ... Monsieur Jean thinks about having a kid. That's the sort of thing that we all think about."

Industry experts say the mainstreaming of foreign graphic novels is also being driven by a bigger trend: the explosion in sales for all graphic novels. Bookstores sold more than $370 million of these oversized comics last year, a four-fold increase over 2001."

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  DUPUY and BERBERIAN interviewed by The Daily Cross Hatch pt. 4

Updated April 30, 2008

Interview: Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian Pt. 4 [of 4] 28apr08

By the end of my conversation with Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian, the two cartoonists are on the sort of roll that requires little guidance from their interviewer, a fact that seemingly reflects both their decades of brilliant work in the field and the fact that they have worked so closely together, for so long. Speaking with them, one can easily imagine that they partake in this manner of conversation with one another on a regular basis, engaging in poignant analysis of their own work and the work of their much celebrated peers like David B. and Marjane Satrapi.

Whether or not that is indeed the case, it’s a pleasure sitting back and listening [(and hopefully read, as well) as they use the form as something of a launching pad for art in general, touching on the works of artists ranging from Matisse to Philip K. Dick.

[Part One]
[Part Two]
[Part Three]

When you go back and read your work a few years after it’s completed, do you find that your impression of it has changed greatly?

Charles Berberian: I’ll probably read Haunted much more than any of our [co-authored] books. And I would really like to have an English copy of Haunted, because when Drawn & Quarterly published Get a Life and Maybe Later, I really enjoyed reading them, because it was like reading someone else’s book. That was probably the first time I was really excited about reading our own book.

But beyond just a translation, I imagine that reading something with a good deal of time between you and its writing, the piece probably means something fairly different to you than when you initially wrote it.

CB: Yeah. The only book we re-inked was Petit Peintre, a book that was first published in ’84, and it was quite an experience, because it was like talking to us, 20 years ago. It’s not really comfortable. It’s not a comfortable situation. We’re lucky though, that we can still be connected with the people we were, 20 years ago—we’re physically connected, because drawing is very physical. But it’s uncomfortable, because you really get a notion of time that that has faded away.

Philippe Dupuy: Yeah, but it’s okay for me when I read the our old work, because it’s still me—us. And I can discover something new, reading it, ten years after. I see the evolution, and I don’t want to do the same things again. I don’t want to do the same things now. I read Maybe Later again, in the period before I was writing Haunted. And when I decided to draw and write Haunted, I didn’t want to do an autobiographical book like that, with me on each page. But I’m in the book, anyway, and I know that the next time I do something personal or autobiographical, the idea is to not draw myself—talking about myself without representing me directly, but a friend told me that this is maturity, when you are doing that, when you’re talking about yourself, but not saying, “I, I, I.”

CB: I’m not sure about that, because first of all, I think that there are different ways of talking about ourselves, and that using “I” is a very courageous way to write and draw stories, but it has to be worth it. Especially when you’re implicating people from your entourage, like David B. is doing, when he’s doing Epileptic, or what Marjane [Satrapi] is doing when she’s drawing Persepolis.

PD: I think that in different work, when you say “I,” It’s just a different way to talk about things.

CB: The best books I’ve read were written with the “I.” Some were written by older people.

PD: When I said “maturity,” I was talking maybe just about mine. I suppose it’s not the same for other people.

CB: No, because I think—you like Picasso and Matisse very much, and when these guys are older, they’re drawing like they did when they were kids, but with the maturity of an old man, but their strength—what makes them really precious is that they’re old, but they still can connected with the kids they were, and this is part of the electricity, when you can connect with those two sides of one story. This is the electricity of what you can communicate. The fact that we’re using the “I” perspective.

I’m like Philippe, I don’t want to do this, all of the time, and the book that we’re publishing in May, there’s no way you can connect us to the characters, because there’s no Monsieur Jean there, but I tend to think that there’s somehow one of us in there. And the projection is something that’s very suitable, when you’re writing a story. You project yourself into a character, and as a reader, that’s what I do. I project myself into characters, and the implication, I think, is very important for the writer and the reader, and maybe some writers have used the “I” perspective, without any implication, and some have used science-fiction, say Philip K. Dick, with a lot of implication.

I realized, after reading an autobiography of Philip K. Dick, that one of my favorite books by him was about him in the late 60s. I think that when you’re writing and there is this implication and there is this certain way of dealing with things that you’re writing about that is very direct and the fact that you are or are not using “I,” that’s not very important. But when you’re using “I,” and you’re implicating people from your entourage, like your own family, it’s very difficult, demanding, and dangerous. You have to have a very important subject, otherwise you can use an mask, and there’s not problem with that.

David B. had problems with his family, after publishing Epileptic, and I asked him why he’d didn’t use another name. He said, “no, it wouldn’t have been the same. I had to implicate my family, otherwise the book wasn’t worth drawing.” So, I don’t know much about maturity. I’m probably the last guy who can talk about that, but as a reader, I’m sure about what I’m saying. As a writer, I don’t know.

–Brian Heater
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PHILIPPE DUPUY and CHARLES BERBERIAN interviewed by The Daily Cross hatch pt. 3

Updated April 18, 2008

Interview: Charles Berberian and Philippe Dupuy Pt. 3

Now is a exciting moment in the world of Charles Berberian and Philippe Dupuy. Released in an English translation on Drawn & Quarterly in 2006, Maybe Later gave readers the rare opportunity to view the artists’ work independently of one another, a chance repeated once again with the release of Dupuy’s solo book Haunted, earlier this year.

Haunted is, in many ways, a departure from the duo’s beloved and long-running series, Monsieur Jean, exploring a manner of storytelling not often present in the everyman plotlines of Dupuy and Berberian’s best-known work. Berberian insists, however, that the new book, along with a rekindled interest in the epic work of Buddha creator, Osama Tezuka, has opened up new methods of storytelling for the duo.

Even with their recent Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême—something of a comics lifetime achievement award—it seems that the duo best and most exciting work is yet to come.

You spoke wanting to tackle grand issues in this upcoming book. What are they, specifically?

Charles Berberian: It’s not really big issues. They’re basic issues of everyday life—this is what makes us laugh, or intrigues us. We like to walk around, observe people and things. Phillipe worked a lot in cafes. Sometimes he stops working on the script he’s working on and just listens to people and writes what they say down. I do the same thing. I spend a lot of time sketching in cafes and restaurants, and I always note things on the paper.

Philippe Dupuy: It’s crazy. When I write the dialogues of people, it’s just the things I don’t understand. I write what they say. When I go back, I change nothing. The dialogs are really good. It’s true that when you’re drawing, people don’t care so much, apparently. At the beginning they care, but soon they forget, and you are invisible.

Do you ever get recognized when you’re drawing people, or just walking down the street?

PD: No, it’s impossible, because you can’t recognize comic artists, because we’re not actors, or something like that. Just one or two times, people came and asked me, “are you the guy who draws Monsieur Jean?”

In the United States, cartoonists always seem to associate themselves with the underdog role. When books like Maus or Jimmy Corrigan come along and win them some respect, it seems almost like something of a shock to the system. Is the situation similar in France?

CB: [It's the] same thing in France. It’s the same phenomenon. Maus was really a big breakthrough in France, and it took like ten years to fabricate a generation of writers and cartoonists—”graphic novelists”—to take over. And now in France, there’s a certain recognition, but it could be dangerous, with all of this attention and focus. I tend to think that French literature is a little too self-concious, so we don’t have the same kind of down-to-earth books that I really enjoy reading when I’m reading graphic novels, because I really feel authors connected with the real world. French literature today is into this sort of, “I’m writing a very important book.”

PD: They’re looking at themselves a lot.

CB: Yeah, and it’s not at all like English literature. There are a lot of French writers who are trying to write like Brett Easton Ellis. It’s terrible [laughs]. But there is a lot of generosity and invention in French graphic novels today. It’s very exciting. It’s as exciting as what’s being produced in the US and in Canada. I think the fact that we’re sitting on the border of being officially important but still in the underdog mindframe—that makes us special. I would like to stay on that border.

PD: You’re right, this is a problem. It’s a difficult question. I think that sometimes I’m fighting for the comics to be recognized. People think that everyone in France thinks that comics are great. That’s not really true. Many people think that comics are just for kids or stupid—they’re not really books. And we know that that’s not true, so we have to fight. But we don’t want to be stars. I’m happy to be recognized, like the girl who came up to me and asked if I was the guy who draws Monsieur Jean. I said, “yes, I am one of the two guys.” And it was enough. Imagine if people were doing that all the time. I wouldn’t want that. But I do want people to know that there are great books around. That the work of Art Spiegelman or Chris Ware or Charles Burns is much better than some bad French novel.

How did you react to winning the Grand Prix [de la ville d'Angoulême]?

PD: Oh, it was nice. The people who decided to give us that are people that we have a lot of admiration for. It’s embarrassing, too, because a lot of our friends should have won.

CB: They will! Now that we’re inside, we can vouch for them.

PD: But how do you choose one of your friends?

CB: Who will be the most friendly toward us [laughs]?

When a great work like Maus comes along, do you feel some obligation to be creating art on that level?

CB: I’m a reader and I’m also an author. I still remember that I started drawing because I was excited about what I was reading. These two activites are totally connected. And I think that back in ’85, we considered stopping drawing graphic novels, because we didn’t read any books that excited us as much as they had ten years ago. As I said earlier, reading Tezuka or Haunted or other books, gives me the excitement to draw. Making something important—I really think that what’s important to me or us is not what’s important to someone else.

PD: Yes, exactly.

CB: And this is sitting on the border of being the underground. I feel a connection not so much with the underdog as with the underground. The underground is not like a revolutionary thing. I was raised on a magazine called Heavy Metal in France, which is not really like the Heavy Metal you have here in the US. It was much more close to the bone. They would be the first one to say that Phillip K. Dick was a writer, and not just a science fiction writer, and I really like that. We could read reviews about Phillip K. Dick’s books and Egon Schielle’s paintings.

What’s important about what we’re doing is not for us to say. It’s for the people to decide, but as a reader or an auditor, I know that some minor books of authors when they were published are now considered important. Minor authors like Phillip K. Dick are really considered important now, while authors that were important back then are totally forgotten today. But maybe they will be rediscovered later. We can’t focus on that, when we’re doing a book. When Philippe started working on Haunted, it was really exciting.

PD: There aren’t really any big subjects in Haunted. I don’t talk about big things, about the world. But for me, the subjects are very important. You talk about Maus by Spiegelman. Everyone thinks it’s a wonderful book because it’s talking about such a big subject—the holocaust, but for me, the big subject of the book is the relationship between Art Spiegelman and his father. This is why that book is more interesting that other books about the holocaust. There are many books about the holocaust. My personal story has no connection with the holocaust—

CB: We all have connection with the holocaust!

PD: Surely, but not as directly as Art Spiegelman has, but if I have a connection with the relationship with his father. This is why I loved the book. I think when you’re talking about small pieces of your life—the good periods and the bad periods—those are universal. When you are a reader, the most important thing is that when you close the book, you don’t forget.

CB: Although something really terrible happened to me [laughs]. I was reading a book of short stories by Haruki Murakami and I really enjoyed them. I put down the book at some point and picked it up some months later. I couldn’t remember which stories I’d read and which I hadn’t. So I started reading this story, and I thought I had read it before and knew what was going to happen. I could really see it very clearly. And I continued and it was totally something else.

PD: That’s great! It was your story.

CB: It’s quite amazing, the relationship that we can have with books. It’s like standing on a mountain shouting, and then you hear your voice back. At the moment you read the book, you’re reading the book, and you’re reading what’s in your mind. There’s a sort of echo, and at some point, maybe you’re building up things.

You don’t have to explain everything when you’re writing a story, because there’s a contract between the writer and the reader in the space you leave when you’re writing. The reader can fill in the gaps. Maybe it’s not what you’re reading that’s memorable. It’s what you put inside. That drives you back to reading books, the fact something happened whil you were reading it. Talking about Maus—there are so many entries to that book. People who want to read about the holocaust or their relationship with their father can get something out of it. This is what’s very interesting about art in general.

[Concluded in Part Four].

–Brian Heater
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  PHILIPPE DUPUY and CHARLES BERBERIAN interviewed by The Daily Cross hatch pt. 2

Updated April 18, 2008

Interview: Charles Berberian and Philippe Dupuy Pt. 2

Artists Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian have charmed European comics audiences for decades with the continuing adventures of Monsieur Jean, the tale of a successful novelist living in Paris. Based largely on the artists’ own experience, the series has been hailed for its keen ability to betray the subtle nuances of modern life.

Haunted, a rare solo cartooning work by Dupuy, made its English debut, earlier this month. The book marks both a welcome glimpse into the artist’s individual strengths and sharp move away from the subtle realism of the team’s work on Monsieur Jean. Dupuy’s panels are stripped of their polish, leaving behind rough sketches that depict the dreamlike narratives of a man searching for deeper meanings in something so simple as taking a morning jog in a Parisian park.

In this second part, we discuss the genesis of Dupuy’s latest book, and the impact both artists expect it to have on their work, moving forward.

Pt. 1

Haunted feels a lot like a sketch book.

Philippe Dupuy: Yeah.

At what point did you it occur to you to maintain the book’s raw quality?

PD: The idea was to draw Haunted as if you were writing. I didn’t want to work on this for many years.

How long did the book take to create?

PD: At first I worked on it for two months. I had to stop for a bit and then picked it up for a few more months. It was quick, and the idea was to not make too much work—doing the sketches and then the inking with all of the steps it usually takes. I was doing it on sketchbooks that I could put in my pocket. I was working on it in bars and cafes around Paris. They were very small drawings and was doing the pages as if I was writing. In the beginning, the idea was not to do a book, at all. I was not sure about that. Quickly enough, I saw that it was growing into a book. It’s very strange, because you don’t decide the structure, the idea of where you’re going. You see the book growing out from nowhere.

As a reader of Haunted, one is never sure where the stories are going to go, take, for example, the story of the duck. It sounds as if the process of creating the book was very similar.

PD: Yeah. That’s true—when I did the book, I was running every day. I would begin my days running, and when you run, you can clean your mind. And when your mind is clean, the ideas come. And sometimes you have a connections with various ideas.

With the duck story, one morning I was running and I really had to piss, but the waterclosets were closed. I went around the park and saw this little house and there were ducks in the garden. I began to run again, and thought about doing a story about people who have lists in life. “I have to do that, that, and that. And I want to collect things to do.” I have no idea why I had the idea that the duck would be like that.

But the idea of the book was no to try to control things. When I had an idea, I’d write it and try to make a story of it. The idea was to show things you can’t see. It was a bit of a challenge to write a book full of impossible things—things that are hard to explain.

You mentioned that you bounced a few ideas off of Charles, but being that the concept of book was to keep everything raw, did you ever actually wind up rejecting anything outright?

PD: I made a selection at the end. I wrote some stories that I didn’t draw. And there were some pages that I didn’t put in, because I didn’t want to explain things too much. But there wasn’t too much that didn’t make it, though in my sketchbook, there were a lot of things—people in the bar that I saw when writing and ideas that I had while running. I knew I was going to make a book, so I had two choices. The first was to make a facsimilie of the sketches, exactly as they are. And the other idea was to make it into a book, so I decided to make some selections.

Did anything come out of the book that might later become the fodder for a collaboration between the two of you?

Charles Berberian: When Phillipe started working on the book, I was very much into Tezuka’s work, and I was reading Phoenix and Buddha. I really thought we should bend our writing in that direction.

What exactly is it about Tezuka’s writing that you want to emulate?

CB: Well, going much more profoundly into the characters and the way they can change during a story. Going from a bad character to a good character. The humanity in Tezuka’s work is really amazing. I’ve never read anything like that, and when I started reading the pages that would become Haunted, I was amazed by the link to Tezuka’s work. I asked him if he had read Tezuka’s work, and he said, “no.” So I was very impressed by that. I think it helped us—for our next project, which we’re going to star working on in the next month, we will be going in that direction and reading Tezuka will help us a lot.

Does working apart give your collaborations something of a fresh start?

CB: When you’re working on a character like Monsieur Jean, you have a certain graphical vocabulary, and you can’t move out easily from that, because it’s a comfortable house with comfortable furniture. And it’s cold outside. You tend to want to stay indoors. Whenever one of us goes outside and says, “okay, you can come outside. It’s not so bad. It’s not so raining and freezing. Come out and we can try something else.” That helps.

So the next book isn’t Monsieur Jean?

CB: No. We’re outside the house.

You feel a sense of limitation, in terms of what you can do with the character?

CB: No, it’s just that we have to put our old clothes in the laundry and hopefully wear them again, after they’re cleaned up.

But when you’re working with a character with such a strong following, do you think people would react negatively if you made an abrupt change with him?

PD: Some will, I’m sure. When you change a few small things, some people are sad that it’s not the same as before. You can’t know, but I think we will do what we want. If we want to move everything with Monsieur Jean, we will do it. It’s always like that with life—when you lose something, you win something. We have to accept that we’ll lose some people who will have bad reactions, because we will end up winning some new ones in the end.

The concept is not just to change, it’s to move ahead. To do that, things can’t be artificial. When we’re changing our drawing or writing styles, it’s because we need to do that. When we began to make our pages separately on Maybe Later, it was because it was a good moment to do that. I think it’s the same when I was working on Haunted. It worked because it was urgent to draw like that.

The next book won’t be the same. We’re going to do the next one together. I think we might be draw separately—maybe some will be done together. We don’t know. We just started working on the story, and I think that will decide how we are going to work—separately or together.

Having worked on Monsieur Jean so long, do you have your own allegiances to the character? Are there certain things you can and can’t do?

CB: Yeah, that’s true. We just finished a book just before getting on a plane to New York. It’s stepping outside of Monsieur Jean, but staying inside the same neighborhood. It depicts the same characters but we don’t have to deal with the same issues. We can move onto new issues, different kinds of characters. The world around us is so amazingly absurd, and we feel the need to describe it. All of the characters around Monsieur Jean are almost flesh and blood now. There are so many things to write and draw about. The book we’re going to publish in May in France is basically a Monsieur Jean story without Monsieur Jean or any of the characters around him. So it helps us clear the path and draw in whatever way we want to draw—a thin outline or a thick outline.

So what makes a story a Monsieur Jean story, if not Monsieur Jean himself?

CB: The neighborhood. The fact that its every day life and it’s basically us. Even if Monsieur Jean is Monsieur Jean today, at the beginning he was us. He was a mask.

PD: I think the next book that will be published in May are the stories in the neighborhood that happen during the day, while he is working at home [laughs]. What he is doing isn’t very interesting, so we’re just looking down on the street, to see what’s going on.

CB: The two last Monsieur Jean books that were published in France—but not yet in the US and Canada—the more we dealt with those stories, the more the background character gained interest and were really present. Like Phillipe said, Monsieur Jean is there, but he’s writing.

PD: When we work on the next issue of Monsieur Jean, the last one would have been several years ago, so we can change many things. It’s like you have a friend who you haven’t seen in many years, and when you see him again, a lot of things have changed. He’s been married and divorced and lost his hair.

[Continued in Part Three.]

–Brian Heater
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PHILIPPE DUPUY and CHARLES BERBERIAN interviewed by The Daily Crosshatch pt. 1

Updated April 18, 2008

Interview: Charles Berberian and Philippe Dupuy Pt. 1

It’s perhaps the ultimate sign of how insular a nation we’ve become that, even in a world as tightly knit as the American independent comics scene, the names Charles Dupuy and Philippe Berberian remain largely unknown. This can, at least in part, be chalked up to the fact that, until two years ago, it was nearly impossible to find translated versions of their work in North America.

That changed in 2006, when Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly simultaneously released two fantastic examples of the French artists at the top of their form. Get a Life anthologized the first three volumes of their best-known work, Monsieur Jean, the story of a successful novelist living in Paris, which, in many ways has served as something of a literary nome de plume for both Berberian and Dupuy.

The second book, Maybe Later, while excellent, is decidedly atypical, with both parties drawing and scripting their own vignettes, a marked change from the their celebrated collaborations, which generally extend to every aspect of the creative process.

We had the honor of speaking with the artists the eve of a rare talk in New York City.

It’s been ten years since you’ve been to New York.

CB: We were supposed to come over last year, when we were invited for the Book Fair of Toronto, but somewhow it didn’t happen. The scheduling was bad. But ten years ago, we used to come here once a year, for the thrill of discovering the city and working for the New Yorker, but at some point I said, “enough of New York. Let’s try some place else.” But I think it’s time to come back.

But you’ve been to other parts of the states since then?

CB: Oh, San Diego, for Comic Con. It was strange, because I’ve been to New York more often than Barcelona. And I’m really excited about Spain, these days, and South America, too.

Has most of the traveling been to promote books?

CB: The first time we were in New York, it was personal travel.

PD: Just to discover the city. The first time we came to the city, we made a book of sketches. But that was a long time ago. I think it was—

CB: In ’95.

PD: My daughter had just been born. So, imagine…

The last time you were here, you worked on a sketchbook. When you travel, are you constantly trying to imagine the sorts of books that might come out of the experience?

CB: Well, Phillipe published a book, two years ago.

PD: An American Election. Because I came to Tulsa, Arizona, for the last presidential election, and made a book after, in France. It talks about the election and drag queens in Arizona.

Is it a comic?

PD: It’s not really a graphic novel. I did the illustrations and there are 40 pages of comics in the book. That was the last time I came to the United States.

And this last book, Haunted, was one that you did by yourself. I’m assuming that’s why both of you came out.

CB: I don’t know why they invited me [laughs].

PD: I think they invited you because last year we should have come to New York for Maybe Later and…

CD: Get a Life.

PD: It’s true they just published my book, Haunted, and it’s an occasion to come back, with three books on Drawn & Quarterly.

The talk you’re giving tomorrow [last Wednesday at Housing Works in Manhattan]. Will it be primarily focused on Haunted or your collaborations?

CB: We’ll answer the questions, you know? If the questions are focused on Haunted, I’ll let Phillippe do the talking, and I think I’ll take a nap—catch up on the jet lag.

Working apart is a fairly recent phenomenon for the two of you.

PD: Yeah, it’s the first time I’m really doing this. It’s true that it’s recent, because after 20 years of working together, I did this one alone, but Charles wrote some books for other artists and now he’s working on another.

CB: I did a book about music. But it’s not a comic book. It’s drawings and mainly writing about music.

What was the catalyst for these solo projects?

CB: Phillippe had some difficult issues that he had to deal with, on a personal level. I couldn’t get involved with them. So it was a step further into what we did ten years ago, which came out as Maybe Later. In that book we drew our own pages, but this was a matter of going through hard times, and he was really into that difficult moment.

PD: There are just some subjects that you have to deal with alone. When a subject is good to work on together, we work together.

[To Dupuy] Your parts in Maybe Later seemed to have you working through some of these emotional issues.

PD: Yeah, yeah. It’s true. But with Maybe Later, it’s not really the same thing, because the idea with the book was to talk about how we are when we’re working on a comic book. We did that when we were working on the third issue of Monsieur Jean. We decided to have everyone do their own pieces, while talking about our own work. But it’s true that after that, we took different ways, because we wanted to talk about different things. The interesting thing about the project was showing that sometimes your life can be separate from your work. It was weird, when I was reading the pieces that Charles did, he was talking about things that I could feel. I could have said the same thing.

So the process involved reading the other person’s pages and then working on your own?

PD: Yeah. And for Haunted, it’s completely different. It’s the kind of book that you’re working on at one moment and talking about personal things. When I read the book now, I can see that I’m not just talking about myself, but some family stories as well. This is really mine. I can’t imagine that if Charles was writing about his own life, or when he was a kid in Beirut—what could I say about that? I’ve never stepped foot in the city, so I couldn’t be in the book.

Every time we consume art—whether it’s a book, a comic, or a piece of music, we’re constantly trying to read things into it about the artist himself. You two must get a lot of questions regarding who is specifically doing what. Was that part of what prompted Maybe Later? The ability to real claim something for yourself?

CB: We never plan things prior to a project. We always go along with the project. Whenever an idea pops up, we talk about it, and it’s not necessarily intended to be shared, at the beginning. It depends on the reaction. Say I have an idea—I’ll talk about it with Philippe, and he reacts to it, we’ll probably develop this idea as a collaborative project. But then again, if he doesn’t bounce back, then it’s probably not such a good idea, so I’ll probably put it aside and move on to the next idea, or maybe bounce back to an idea that he suggests.

Do you find that the more the two of you work together, the less often ideas are rejected?

CB: Actually, it’s more like ideas standing in line, and we just go from one to the other, until we’re sure that this one is the more exciting one for the moment. For instance, the book I made about music—it’s not as heavy a subject as the one that Philippe was doing with, when he made Haunted. You don’t want to share another’s bad taste.

But when I started working on this book, it was supposed to be a book that we were going to do together, but I ended up doing it on my own, because Philippe started doing Haunted. He was really obsessed with these matters and had to deal with them. But when we started working together, 20 years ago, we didn’t know that we were going to have more than, say, one story that we would do together. And then when the first story was over, we said, “let’s try something else.”

And it’s the same thing with the illustrations—there’s another part of our collaborations, which is as important as us drawing graphic novels. It’s us being illustrators. We never intended to share this part of our work, but it happened that way, so there’s a certain excitement of bouncing back to each others’ ideas, and even though I sometimes enjoy working on my own, I’m really happy to work together, and it’s still exciting when we work on new projects.

When working one your solo books, were you still consulting with each other?

CB: Yeah, I was reading the pages.

PD: You can see how what you draw alone can be useful for your work together, too. You find things out through exploration, and think, ‘I can use this the next time I work with Charles.’ Working alone isn’t a risk that we’ll separate, but the possibility to put more into the next collaboration

[Continued in Part Two.]

–Brian Heater
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  Dupuy and Berberian in NYC, March 5th

Updated February 19, 2008

D+Q and Words Without Borders present:

"The Global Graphic Novel: Straight Out of Angouleme"
Philippe Dupuy in conversation with Charles Berberian

Wednesday, March 5th, 7:00 PM
Housing Works Cafe, 126 Crosby Street, NYC


Philippe Dupuy launches his solo work Haunted, in a Q+A with long-time collaborator Charles Berberian, led by Matt Madden. Dupuy & Berberian have recently been awarded the prestigious Angouleme Grand Prize. The original French edition of Haunted was also nominated for the 2006 award for Best Comic Book at the Angouleme International Comics Festival.
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GET A LIFE reviewed by Comics Worth Reading

Updated February 14, 2008

*Get a Life — Recommended
by Johanna
February 14, 2008

Get a Life properly introduces Mr. Jean to English-speaking audiences. Lengthy stories featuring the character, written and drawn by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian (who both do each), have previously appeared in Drawn & Quarterly anthologies, but this book collects the earlier work where a younger man struggles with his life decisions.

Jean is a novelist living in Paris. He’s gone to the museum because a friend is supposed to meet a woman there, but the friend ducks out on him. Jean goes ahead into the exhibit, where he meets an old girlfriend, now in a new relationship and pregnant, which causes him to remember what had been, contrasted with the different now.

In subsequent chapters, Jean tries to meet women, vacations with a movie producer, ponders the nature of friendship, worries about feeling his age, takes a disastrous publicity trip to another country, tries to manage his freelance work schedule, and puts up with the children of friends. These are important, basic decisions, relating to career, love, and life. The setting blends material anyone can relate to with the exotic veneer of artistic life in urban Europe, a combination that keeps events fresh and funny. Especially with the running gag about the hippos in love and the anchovy pizza.

Relationships are never easy in these stories, especially when children (or the decision or desire to have them) are involved. That’s true even of non-romantic relationships. Jean struggles with his concierge, an unpleasant woman who spies on him and withholds his mail, in a recurring series of short strips that break up the longer stories. But when things go well, there’s still uncertainty to manage, since you never know what others are feeling or what motivates them to make the choices they do.

The cartooning is superb, with distinctively exaggerated characters (Jean is distinguished by his huge nose) that are still recognizable as people you might know. The lines are deceptively simple, true of much European work. They demonstrate the years of experience it took to put them in just the right place. The rich colors are particularly astounding. I don’t see a colorist credited, although I know the creators have used one before, so I don’t know who to thank, but the beautiful, realistic tones and shading really ground the stories.

I’m reminded of the best parts of Seinfeld, where an urban regular guy gets through everyday life with his friends. Jean is constantly sandbagged by his memories, or the contrast between what he thought life should be like and what it is. He’s very human. His experiences will cause the reader to ponder their own life choices and give them more insight into human nature, all under an attractive Parisian veneer.

Mr. Jean stories were included in the Drawn & Quarterly anthologies Volume 3 and Volume 5. They’re now more resonant to me, having read the earlier tales that brought him to where he is in them. There is a preview of Get a Life at the publisher’s website.

The companion volume, Maybe Later, is a black-and-white journal about the artistic process where each creator works separately. Anyone’s who read about the life of an artist will find the material already familiar — the creative type isn’t taken seriously, because it’s assumed anyone can do it. I had hoped there would be more material on what makes this partnership special. There are many writer/artist teams, but few where both do both tasks. That’s touched on lightly, but I wanted more.

An autobiography runs the risk of becoming tedious, as incidents are retold as they happened, but they might not have as much significance to the reader as to the person they happened to. This volume disappointingly flirted with that flaw. Berberian starts off, and his section resembles a Mr. Jean comic, with similar themes and approach, including chapters. When Dupuy takes over, he notes that as well, although I could very much appreciate Berberian’s section on the reasons for and problem of being a collector.

Dupuy’s section is even more scattered. There’s an argument over a scene from the other book that will make the most sense if read along with it. There are two sections about deciding which publisher in France will put out this book that gets much too far into industry politics for the non-familiar reader. In short, I didn’t get the insight into their process I felt I was promised. It was too unfocused. Find out more about it at the publisher’s website.

Guttergeek also reviews both books. Reading Get a Life brought home to me in two ways how important timeliness is. First, there’s Jean, pondering major life choices, illustrating that time keeps passing as one grows up. More importantly, I first reviewed this book near the end of 2007, although it came out in 2006. It’s still a terrific read, but it would have definitely been one of my Best of 2006 if I’d read it in a more timely fashion.
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  DUPUY & BERBERIAN in the National Post

Updated October 25, 2006

20 October 2006

Where do the comic exploits end and the Frenchmen begin?: Monsieur Jean
increasingly reflects his cartoonists' lives

by Samantha Grice


When we first meet him, Monsieur Jean is a writer in his late twenties living in Paris. He smokes and dates heavily, but is mostly single and perplexed by his romantic life. He suffers from bouts of insomnia, has angsty conversations with friends in cafes, daydreams about mutilating irritating fellow citizens and laments turning 30.

Monsieur Jean is the creation of French cartoonists Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian who, two decades ago, when they were in their late twenties, began their exceptional collaboration on the graphic short stories. Today, they are among the most famous cartoonists in France, and tomorrow they pay a visit to Toronto's International Festival of Authors.

While Monsieur Jean was modelled after a friend of Berberian and Dupuy's, Berberian says they couldn't help pouring a little bit of themselves into the character.

"By the time we'd reached the latest episodes of Monsieur Jean's life, every main character had become a suitable mask for either Philippe or myself, depending on the mood," he explained via e-mail from Paris. "Writing and drawing the Monsieur Jean stories is basically, for us, a way to get even with the highs and lows of everyday life."

The similarities between Monsieur Jean and his creators are made clear in the release of Maybe Later, a behind-the-scenes "making of" companion volume to the Monsieur Jean series.

Drawn and Quarterly, the Montreal-based art and literary comic publisher, first introduced the French series to a North American audience ten years ago. This year, in addition to Maybe Later, they released Get a Life, a collection of three Monsieur Jean series. Publisher Chris Oliveros says Berberian and Dupuy are, in fact, quite similar to their protagonist.

"And in person they are both really, really funny," he says. "And the stories are very witty as well. They have this sophistication that is not always evident in all comics. On the one hand they deal with adult issues, but it's done in a humourous way."

Maybe Later, particularly, gives voice to the artists' inner darkness. "When Philippe and I started working on Maybe Later, Philippe was going through some hard times and I was questioning my relationship with comics and drawing," explains Berberian. "Better than endlessly talking it over, it was much more interesting to draw each one his own pages and see at the end of the line if it would work out as a whole book. In our opinion, it did, and that's why we're still working together today. Because, no matter which direction our work takes, two for us is a better number than one."

- Tomorrow, Dupuy and Berberian will be interviewed by Seth at The International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront Centre at 3 p.m. 416-973-4760.


Black & White Photo: Dupuy & Berberian / Behind the Panel: Maybe Later exposes the creative conflicts that fuel the clever Monsieur Jean, above.

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Dupuy & Berberian in Long Island Press

Updated September 5, 2006

The Book

In their native France, Dupuy and Berberian's Monsieur Jean stories have been popular among readers of bandes dessinées (comic books) for more than a decade and a half, but few of those stories have been translated into English. Until now. Drawn and Quarterly's Get a Life collects some of Monsieur Jean's earliest tales (which originally appeared in the mid-'80s), which capture the writer-illustrator team's famed character as a charming and thoughtful young cad as he navigates his mid- to late-20s. A writer on the cusp of success (much like his creators, at the time), Monsieur Jean's life is no different than that of any urban bohemian: Though he's many years and a continent removed, his stories could pass for those of most residents of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or Manhattan's East Village. Monsieur Jean is soft-spoken and unassuming, though, rather than brash or egotistical, and most of his time is spent analyzing his relationships—be they with old friends, old flames or new loves—as they slowly gel or dissolve against a backdrop of a magical Paris. Funny, beautifully drawn and true, Get a Life is a perfect glimpse of a fleeting moment in modern life: those years when adolescence has passed and adulthood looms, that vibrant time when so many important decisions—and memories—are made.

August 31, 2006
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  Dupuy & Berberian reviewed in the Nashville City Paper

Updated August 7, 2006

Web only column: Graphic Content

By Wil Moss, wmoss@nashvillecitypaper.com
July 28, 2006

Comic-Con International: San Diego remains a plethora of discoveries in terms of new voices in the comics field. I didn’t have as much time this year to wander the gigantic floor as last year, but I still found some interesting new releases, like Alan Moore’s Lost Girls. Also below are reviews of two excellent books from French cartoonists Dupuy & Berberian, a roundup of recent superhero relaunches, and much more.

Graphic Novels

Get a Life
Maybe Later
By Dupuy & Berberian
(Drawn & Quarterly)

French cartoonists Dupuy & Berberian have received all too little exposure here in America, something that is thankfully getting rectified with the release of these two books.

Dupuy & Berberian are a storytelling team who share both writing and art duties on their work. They are most known for their Mr. Jean stories, some of which are collected in Get a Life. And the mystery of how exactly the duo collaborate is partially explained in Maybe Later, a journal in comics form with separate contributions from the pair.

Get a Life has a wonderful and true sense of what it is like for a lot of people to be young and aimless. Sure, it gets sentimental and cute at times, but it also gets pretty melancholy and down to earth about memories and heartbreak. Dupuy & Berberian provide a seamless blend of prose and art, pulling you into the world of Mr. Jean with the wit and grace of the best slice-of-life. You really get to know Mr. Jean as he stumbles through life, making both mistakes and progress in his attempts to grow up. Who hasn’t been up for a night on the town only to find none of your friends want to go out so you end up at your parents just for the company? Or had that bad breakup come back into your life when you least expect it? It’s all too relatable.

While Get a Life hits all the highs and lows of being young and single in neat little episodes, Maybe Later shows the chaotic and uncertain parts of life that come in between. Dupuy & Berberian’s exercise in keeping a journal provides a terrific look into the creative process. Charles Berberian writes about his trip with his family to discuss his work at a camp, in the process explaining a little how he and Dupuy work; and he also shows that Mr. Jean’s struggles with fully being an adult partly stem from his own issues. Phillipe Dupuy’s contribution is even more personal, dealing with his creative insecurities and marital problems. Their journal exercise is a success because it reveals more about the artists while being just as engaging as their fiction.

Both books are remarkable introductions to the work of Dupuy & Berberian, proving that the sum can in fact occasionally be equal to its parts.
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Dupuy & Berberian's BBC review

Updated July 31, 2006

BBC - Collective: the interactive culture magazine
Issue #212

Feature: French Comics
July 20, 2006

The French are coming.

Most people’s idea of French comics starts with an irrepressible, moustachio’d Gaul and ends with a plucky boy journalist. Yet although Asterix and Tintin (actually created by Belgium’s Hergé) deserve their much-loved place on the bookshelves, for another, more contemporary taste of what the French call “the ninth art”, turn instead to two recently released volumes from Drawn & Quarterly.

Get A Life and Maybe Later are products of the remarkable double-act of Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berbérian. Get A Life follows the fortunes of everyman dreamer Monsieur Jean: imagine Friends recast with neurotic, cynical twentysomethings in a breezy setting of Parisian cafés and apartments that’s equal parts goofy sitcom and 50s-inspired graphic cool.

Instead of the traditional writer/artist dynamic, Dupuy-Berbérian each contribute both script and art to their books. This apparently seamless relationship is dissected with humour and unflinching honesty in Maybe Later, the duo’s individual graphic journals of the creation of the third Monsieur Jean volume. Far from being newcomers to the comics scene, Dupuy-Berbérian have been working together since 1983. Their Monsieur Jean stories have sold more than 120,000 copies. Not bad, considering that current worldwide sales of Superman comics struggle to reach half that figure.

...Dupuy-Berbérian are now working on their seventh volume of Monsieur Jean’s adventures: to catch up, learning French may well be the wisest option. Bonne chance.

Abi Bliss

Get A Life and Maybe Later by Dupuy & Berbérian, out now published by Drawn & Quarterly.
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  GET A LIFE and MAYBE LATER reviewed by the Onion

Updated July 19, 2006

For American alt-comics devotees, Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian's "Monsieur Jean" has been a reliable presence in Drawn & Quarterly anthologies over the last 10 years. By releasing Get A Life, a compendium of the first three M. Jean graphic albums, the company has done a favor for all those trying to get a handle on the character's history. Much remains the same with M. Jean in these early stories, in that he's still a not-that-famous Parisian author dealing with ex-girlfriends and unfortunate loyalties, but at the beginning, Dupuy & Berberian were still feeling their way between slapstick and poignancy, and by the end of the book, they've figured out how to convey the way their hero's life—like everyone's—is a string of happy and sad surprises… A-

Simultaneous with the release of Get A Life, D&Q is putting out a domestic edition of Dupuy & Berberian's Maybe Later, a cartoon journal the pair kept during the two-year creation of the third M. Jean album. It's more than a little self-indulgent, but it does help clarify the nature of the pair's unusual collaboration—they work together on the words and the pictures—and how much of their own arrested adolescence they've imparted to their signature character… B-
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GET A LIFE & MAYBE LATER reviewed in Publisher's Weekly

Updated July 19, 2006

Get a Life
Dupuy, Phillipe (Author)
Berberian, Charles (Author)

ISBN: 1896597793
Drawn & Quarterly
Published 2006-06
Hardcover, $19.95 (144p)
Comics & Graphic Novels | Comics & Cartoons

Reviewed 2006-03-13

Only a few of French cartoonists Dupuy and Berberian's delightful Monsieur Jean stories have previously appeared in English, but this volume collects translations of the earliest ones, originally published in the mid-'80s. Jean is a smalltime literary figure-a novelist, translator and jazz collector-on the cusp of 30, realizing that life is moving faster than he is. He's got an apartment too cheap to leave, with a landlady he can't stand; his old friends are getting married, having children, casually revealing long-ago betrayals and inflicting their own life disasters on him. He's fine at attracting women, but can't sustain a serious relationship for long. By the end of the book, he's repeatedly playing daddy to other people's babies and recalling the days when the life of an artist and culture-vulture seemed a lot easier. Dupuy and Berberian play Jean's not-quite-midlife crises as whimsy, though, with occasional goofy fantasy sequences in which he imagines himself guarding the castle of his bachelorhood. The book's artwork is breezy, simple and very European (everyone's got gigantic, near-abstract noses, and the landscapes of Paris and Lisbon are lovingly caricatured); its smooth playfulness helps to alleviate the sting of its well-aimed darts toward the moments when the bohemian life begins to curdle. (June)

Maybe Later
Dupuy, Philippe (Author)
Berberian, Charles (Author)

ISBN: 1896597211
Drawn & Quarterly
Published 2006-07
Hardcover, $16.95 (128p)
Comics & Graphic Novels | Literary

Reviewed 2006-04-03

These two famed French cartoonists are a longtime team, but here they split up for the first time to create a comic that exposes the personal side of creativity. Yet the book has more than just behind the scenes info. By the end this becomes a touching story about the lives of two artists facing middle-age. The cartoonists tell their separate stories in different styles. Berberian takes the mundane events in his life and infuses them with comical asides drawn in a loose and easy manner. This technique has more than comedic value; it also provides insight into what a life soaked in pop culture is like. He makes use of subjects like the Simpsons and Batman to examine his desire to capture a childhood that is gone forever. Dupuy starts off his comic in a similar nervous state, this time about how egocentric this book can be. Then he is told his mother has died and he sums up her life in six graceful panels. Dupuy's section deals with a deeper kind of loss and how it, too, affects growing up. Instead of looking back, Dupuy looks forward to a world that can seem very scary. Even when they're not creating a strip together, Dupuy and Berberian complement each other perfectly. (June)

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  The Hartford Advocate on DUPUY & BERBERIAN

Updated July 18, 2006

Hartford Advocate - Hartford, CT, USA

Comics Cavalcade
An embarrassment of riches
by Alan Bisbort - July 6, 2006

Get A Life
by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian, $19.95 (Drawn & Quarterly)

Maybe Later
by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian, $19.95 (Drawn & Quarterly)

The present state of the graphic novel/comic-book genre is reminiscent of the music scene of the late 1960s. Back then, anybody with long hair who could play an instrument was signed to a record label. Out of that improvisational chaos came some of the most timeless music of the era, much of it selling better in reissued formats today than work by contemporary artists. Of course, some of the worst, most self-indulgent crap was also released, but it was so far outweighed by the good that nobody even remembers it. Likewise, the graphic novel genre is exploding with new voices and visions, still stretching its muscles, still widening its tent to give anybody with a pencil and a unique spin a chance to create something worthwhile.

And, remarkably enough, the resultant creative explosion has produced a great deal of potentially timeless work but very little crap (with the exception of the entire manga subgenre). For example, just in the past few months, we've seen a gripping Holocaust story (Miriam Katin's memoir We Are On Our Own), dispatches from Iraq (War Fix), a modern Little Prince-like fable (Goodbye, Chunky Rice), as well as Attitude 3, the third collection of "new subversive online cartoonists."

Lost in the shuffle, though, are some works that may go begging for the audience they deserve.

...Heartwarming and hilarious, the continuing saga of Mr. Jean -- one of the most popular comic book series in France -- has been translated into English and handsomely packaged in two volumes by Montreal-based Drawn & Quarterly. Dupuy and Berberian's long-running collaboration is unusual in that they both write and draw and the result is organic and seamless. Indeed, it's both an intellectual and visceral pleasure to read Get A Life and Maybe Later. Mr. Jean is a struggling 30-something writer who cut his teeth listening to Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, whose tales of love, loss and battles with his best friend's cat and his "beloved concierge" (a mean old crone with facial hair) are unpredictable, visually inventive and hilarious. Think Seinfeld episodes without the conniving edge. This is the sort of smart comic that has the chance to hook first-time adult readers. Try one of these. I guarantee you'll want more.
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Get a Life
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Comics Reporter on GET A LIFE

Updated July 12, 2006

posted June 30, 2006

Get A Life
Creators: Philippe Dupuy, Charles Berberian
Publishing Information: Drawn and Quarterly, 144 pages, hardcover, full-color, $19.95
Ordering Numbers: 1896597793 (ISBN)

The success or failure of the M. Jean collection Get A Life should say something about the North American comic book market. As much good work as has done well in that market, all of it seems to share a real from-the-gut intensity. If a successful comic isn't visceral pulp, it's impassioned autobiography, or polemic. I wonder sometimes if people aren't connecting to the fury of the personality involved as much as if not more than the nuances of the material. Even the preferred humor comics seems to be those that go for explosive belly laughter as opposed to something sustained and amusing.

Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian's Get A Life is an elegantly cartooned and very, very funny collection of shorts about the foibles of modern life as viewed from a position of relative intellectual and social prestige. Its pleasures are roughly the same as the kind of film where you notice the background, the quality of filmstock, and what people are wearing -- it's an immersive experience. Much of the humor comes from the gentle exasperation of having one's own perfectly planned desires thwarted by well-meaning fans or the simple non-alignment of fate. The authors are smart enough to load in subtle narrative threads, such as the more time you spend with the lead, the more you wonder at the supposed superiority of his position, whether or not his desires are all that worth pursuing. All of this done is really lovely-looking color that serves multiple function -- mood, denoting scene changes, and shifts in outlook among them. It's just a really class act, even if I worry for an audience that will respond to refined effect.
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Updated July 12, 2006


Further Illuminations: More comics for your Summer Reading pleasure

by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian
Drawn and Quarterly, 144 pp., $19.95

by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian
Drawn and Quarterly, 136 pp., $16.95

When Americans talk about European comic books, they'll sometimes refer to them – for reasons of precision or of desire to be perceived as hipper than thou – as bande dessinée. These Yanks may also suggest that modern European comics are better in general than modern American comics, and that this is likely due to the Euros not having been historically yoked with the Spandex-clad superhero genre. I'd name names sooner than debate these points, and I won't debate these points at all. Especially not after having read Dupuy and Berberian's Get A Life from Drawn & Quarterly.

Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian have been collaborating for 20 years, together creating the long-running, award-winning series about the life of Monsieur Jean, a "laconic, single Parisian male struggling through the usual calamaties of life: bachelorhood in his 20s and early 30s and the impending responsibilities of marriage, kids, and deadlines for his publisher." Mssr. Jean is just another one of the guys, in other words, albeit one who's a semi-successful author and bargain-basement Casanova in the City of Lights, and his misdaventures are no more outlandish than the sort of quirky yet quotidian shit you, dear reader, are liable to find yourself knee-deep in. It's that everymannishness, in conjunction with a superb rendering in full-color, cartoony (okay, then) bande dessinée vernacular, that makes these stories so appealing. Get A Life is a collection of more than a dozen early short narratives – including "Love and the Concierge," "Ice Cubes in Formaldehyde," and "Cathy (Norwegian Wood)" – that will provide an excellent introduction to this likable character.

And, in case you're wondering what it's like to collaborate on Monsieur Jean – or on anything – for 20 years, D&Q has also released Maybe Later, a graphic exploration, with surreal digressions and moments of talk-show-personal confession, of what the duo has endured, together and alone, while working on the series. Midlife crises, publishing dilemmas, the apocalypse of relational break-ups, and What It's Like to Be a Professional Cartoonist: These are pictured in the creators' familiar line drawings, in sharp black and white, in a humor-laced parallax view of the creative process and how it affects and is affected by life's relentless vicissitudes.

by Ron Rege Jr.
Drawn and Quarterly, 24 pp., $7.95 (paper)

Somewhere near the indie-comic crossroads of cuteness and sincerity – where, it is rumored, you'd have to bury the heart of James Kochalka in order to properly kill him – you'll find the ouevre of Ron Rege Jr. The more scholarly and clever will call the neighborhood "Cute Brut," and will champion the young Rege for his intensely personal and innovative iconography and the ingenuous thoughts and feelings he chooses to capture in pictures and quirkily calligraphic text. These clever scholars may well be on to something, but you don't need an even metaphorical sheepskin to appreciate what the man does with pen and ink and, especially on the cover of this latest volume from Drawn and Quarterly, a bright palette of colors.

Rege has released an annual collection of his work under the series title Yeast Hoist since 1995; unlike the first several issues – self-published minicomics, for the most part – this latest one, number 13, is a slick-covered and perfectbound volume of cartoon illuminations, exploring the artist's usual preoccupations: relationships, rock & roll, and the lowercase rapture of earthly existence. This one is called, after one of the interior stores, The Awake Field. This one, too, will be a joy for emo kids everywhere. Or, yes, for those who appreciate personal and innovative iconography.
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Get a Life
Maybe Later


Updated June 16, 2006

Get a Life/Maybe Later
Flagg, Gordon

15 May 2006
Booklist 31 Volume 102; Issue 18
ISSN: 00067385

Dupuy, Philippe and Berberian, Charles. Get a Life. Tr. by Helge Dascher. June 2006. 144p. illus. Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95 (1-896597-79-3). 741.5.

Dupuy, Philippe and Berberian, Charles. Maybe Later. Tr. by Helge Dascher. June 2006. 136p. illus. Drawn & Quarterly, $16.95 (1-896597-21-1). 741.5.

For more than 15 years, fans of bandes dessinées-French for comics-have followed the life in Paris of young novelist M. Jean as he, a flawed but sympathetic everyman, traded footloose bachelorhood for marriage and fatherhood. Although individual stories have appeared in American anthologies, this is the first American collection of M. Jean stories, including the earliest in the series. Mr. Jean, as he's styled here, is a surrogate for Dupuy and Berberian, who each contribute to both the writing and the art, and who have, like their signature character, experienced the satisfactions and challenges of domesticity during the past decades. While die setting may seem exotic to stateside readers, Jean's bittersweet struggles with friends, lovers, and employers, depicted in a cartoonish style chockablock with place-realizing details, are recognizable and familiar; indeed, few American comics characters possess even a modicum of Jean's unassuming normalcy. The appearance of die initial installments ofhis saga raises hopes that readers this side of the pond will henceforth be able to follow his changes.

In Maybe Later Dupuy and Berberian juxtapose one another's journals in comics during the making of the latest M. Jean book. As they, along with their creation, approach middle age, they deal with personal concerns both trivial-Berberian's splurging on CDs and books, and his obsession with Batman-and grave-the death of Dupuy's mother and the near-breakup of his marriage. It's tempting to say that Berberian is the yang to Dupuy's yin, but it's not that simple. Jean, like each of his creators-like each of us-is bedeviled by demons and comforted by life's pleasures, great and small. Both artists detail their insecurities as they struggle with the creative process and their frustrations with mundane business matters as their longtime publisher totters on the brink of bankruptcy. The book's unorthodox structure reveals how Dupuy and Berberian transform personal experiences into Jean's saga and divulges their collaborative working methods. Dupuy and Berberian prove as beguiling as their creation.

-Gordon Flagg

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Dupuy & Berberian

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  DUPUY-BERBERIAN in "TOUTENBD" (article en francais)

Updated February 3, 2006

Dupuy-Berberian murés !
Et un de plus. Angoulême s’enrichit d’un nouveau mur peint aux couleurs d’un des plus célèbres duos de la BD.

Depuis 2002, Dupuy et Berberian avaient leur mur peint sur une façade de Bruxelles. Ils étaient d’ailleurs les premiers auteurs français à avoir cet honneur.
Désormais, les parents de "Monsieur Jean" et d’"Henriette" sont également représentés sur la façade d’une maison d’une autre capitale de la bande dessinée. La fresque à dominantes de rouge, noir et blanc a été inaugurée à l’occasion du 33e festival international de la bande dessinée d’Angoulême. Elle est située dans la rue juste derrière le théâtre d’Angoulême.
Espérons qu’elle tiendra davantage que celle de Zep. Réalisée en hâte, sur un mur mal assaini, afin d’être prête pour le festival de l’an dernier, la fresque a mal supporté l’année et la peinture s’écaille déjà en plein milieu...
Le mur de Dupuy et Berberian viendra prochainement s’ajouter à la vingtaine d’autres oeuvres présentées dans notre visite virtuelle.
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D+Q Nominated for Six Eisner Awards!

Updated April 12, 2004

D+Q is up for six different Eisner Awards for the publishing year 2003.

Best Short Story: "Monsieur Jean," by Philippe Dupuy and Charles
Berberian, in Drawn & Quarterly 5

Best Anthology: Drawn & Quarterly 5

Best Graphic Album-New: The Fixer by Joe Sacco

Best Graphic Album-Reprint: Louis Riel by Chester Brown

Best Publication Design: Louis Riel by Chester Brown

Best Comics-Related Book: The Acme Novelty Library Datebook by Chris Ware

The Eisners, along with the Harveys and the Ignatzes, are the comic book industry's most distinguished Awards. The winners are announced at San Diego Comic-con in July.

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Chris Ware
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