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PHILIPPE DUPUY in The Observer

Updated June 11, 2008


Jason Burke
THE OBSERVER
Sunday June 1 2008

French elite declare the Bobo extinct:
With their political influence dwindling, France's trendy and privileged urbanites face a harsh new reality. Jason Burke reports from Paris.

For nearly a decade the Bourgeois Bohemians - or Bobos - have been France's favourite hate figures. Urban, wealthy, left-wing, conscious of fashion and the environment, reviled by their compatriots, both courted and denigrated by politicians, their days are now numbered.

The last post was blown last week by news magazine's Le Point's article 'Requiem for the Bobos'. 'It's over. It's the final curtain. It's gone,' said Christophe Ono-Dit-Biot, the editor who wrote the headline. 'Now all that's left is the funeral.'

The article was inspired by the award of a major prize to a new cartoon book called Welcome to Boboland. Coming after films, documentaries, plays and novels that have all dissected the phenomenon, each page of Welcome to Boboland is a scathing, cruel and darkly funny attack on the youngish, educated, left-wing wealthy who now dominate central and eastern Paris - and a scattering of other French cities.

In the book, the Bobos work in media, advertising or music. They buy overpriced flats, blissfully unaware of the illegal immigrants who have just been evicted, before heading to the nearest organic food store. They holiday in Buenos Aires because it is 'the new Barcelona' while worrying about their carbon footprint. They have affairs with junior colleagues looking to get permanent jobs in their production companies and worry if their ex-wife will be able to find a creche for their young children.

For Philippe Dupuy, co-author of Welcome to Boboland, his subjects, observed on the streets around his home on the trendy Canal St Martin, are now experiencing a golden age. 'It is a bit like Rome,' he said. 'Now they are at the height of their power. Next will come the decadence and the decline.' He says he has watched his neighbourhood being transformed from 'a very mixed quartier with people from all walks of life' to one 'that even the lower middle classes can't afford'.

'Now it is just for the rich, but rich people who are stuffed with contradictions: they have money but they want to act as if they don't, they want to be green but love their new coffee machine which dumps empty aluminium capsules by the thousand,' he told The Observer

The cultural decline of the Bobos may be mirrored by a loss of political influence. They have been a key political constituency in urban France for some time. But analysts say their high watermark was the surge in the polls in last year's presidential election for Francois Bayrou, the centrist politician now in the political wilderness. Even then the massed ranks of the Bobos who switched to Socialist candidate Segolene Royal for the second round of voting were unable to prevent the crushing victory of right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy.

Though widely credited with winning Paris for mayor Bertrand Delanoe in elections five years ago, their support was less decisive in this year's lacklustre poll. Even worse, the Bobos are breaking up. There is now talk of the hard-left Bobobo (Bourgeois Bohemian Bolsheviks), the more ecologically minded Bio-Bobo, and according to Francois-Xavier Bourmaud of Le Figaro newspaper, the 'Bobo-Lili' or 'Bourgeois Bohemian Libertarian Liberal'.

One possibility is that the Bobos are not dying off but merely turning into something else. For Pierre Merle, respected sociologist at the University of Brittany, the word Bobo has always been problematic.

'In sociological terms you are talking about the new middle class - journalistically labelled 'bourgeois bohemian' not because there is anything remotely bohemian about them but to mark them from off the traditional haute bourgeoisie. There are more and more of them; they are growing all the time; they are less and less uniform; and as they get richer it is far from certain that they will stay left-wing.'

One mark of a Bobo, everyone agrees, is that no one ever admits that they are one. Ono-Dit-Biot, who is 33, and a successful author living near Montmartre in northern Paris, says after a period as a Bobo he is now a Nono - Not Bourgeois, Not Bohemian either.

Outside Chez Prune yesterday, the chic and carefully scruffy cafe in the 10th arrondissement which is the headquarters of Parisian Bobo life, Jeremy, a 36-year-old video producer, admitted a sense of foreboding as he sipped his authentically working-class pastis and looked out through his designer shades at the couples pushing three-wheeled baby buggies along the banks of the Canal St Martin.

'I am not a Bobo but a lot of my friends are,' he said. 'They know their time is up.'
 
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  HAUNTED reviewed by Booklist

Updated June 11, 2008


BOOKLIST
By Gordon Flagg
June 1, 2008

Haunted.
Dupuy, Philippe (Author)
Mar 2008. 204 p. Drawn & Quarterly, hardcover, $24.95. (9781897299265). 741.5.

French cartoonist Dupuy is best known as half of the team that produces the long-running chronicles of Parisian Everyman Monsieur Jean. In Maybe Later (2006), he and Charles Berberian each showed what they were capable of producing separately. Now Dupuy reveals a darker, less-conventional side in this
rough-hewn work depicting his thoughts and encounters on his daily jogs. He meets, or imagines he meets, his deceased mother and an art-collecting duck, and muses upon a dog that chews off its paw to escape a trap and a boy born with no hands-the embodiment of a cartoonist's greatest fear. Other pieces portray a temperamental artist, a clique of anthropomorphic forest animals, and Mexican wrestlers. The polished visual approach of the Monsieur Jean stories is abandoned for a spontaneous, sketchlike look appropriate to the dreamlike quality of the stories. The self-doubting Dupuy is far less ingratiating than the sympathetic Jean, but the wry humor with which he confronts his demons and his powerful visual sense make for an equally rewarding, if less purely enjoyable, reading experience.
--Gordon Flagg

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HAUNTED reviewed by Metapsychology

Updated June 11, 2008


METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS
Review - Haunted, by Philippe Dupuy
Drawn and Quarterly, 2008
Review by Christian Perring
Jun 3rd 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 23)

Haunted is a collection of seven fantasies by comic/graphic artist Philippe Dupuy. Most of them are what he calls "Run Movies" because he has them as he is jogging. They are bizarre and surreal, with the same sort of logic in the narrative as dreams, featuring talking animals and impossible events. They are quite disturbing, featuring violence and breaches of the natural order. Yet they are also funny and occasionally whimsical ... Reading them feels like getting a glimpse of Dupuy's unconscious, and it's a little disturbing, although no more so than it would be seeing anyone else's deepest fears and thoughts expressed in fantasy form....

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.
 
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  Haunted reviewed by Newsarama

Updated May 13, 2008


Haunted
Reviewed by Michael C Lorah
May 5, 2008

Philippe Dupuyís Haunted is a hard book to describe. Essentially, it follows a man Ė Dupuy himself? Ė as he jogs through a city and a park, only to dive deep down into his consciousness for a meditation on aging, self and fears, all lived out through unlikely anthropomorphic animals, surreal stream-of-conscious events, dream avatars and a Mexican lucha libre wrestler who enjoys dancing.

A challenging book, Haunted opens itself to the readerís interpretations, and its success is, probably more than any other comic Iíve read, purely up to the indulgences, imagination and insight of the reader. I can say that I found several sequences moving, several incomprehensibly obtuse, and others outrageously funny. Itís definitely a book Iíll revisit during the years to see how my evolving perceptions of the world and myself align with and diverge from Dupuyís poetic philosophies.

If that doesnít tell you as much as youíd like, Iíll offer this thought: itís a beautifully drawn book. Simply drawn, but deceptively elegant. Dupuy fills pages with swirling lines, cascading sensations at the reader, only to pull back and leave a single, pointed illustration on the next page, stopping the reading in its tracks and asking for a moment of reflection. Itís intriguing, engaging work. It may not entirely succeed for every reader who picks it up, but it certainly offers something that few other comics are willing to attempt.


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HAUNTED reviewed by Campus Circle

Updated May 8, 2008


Haunted
(Drawn and Quarterly)

By Mike Sebastian

French superstar Philippe Dupuyís autobiographical graphic novel is sublime, profane, hallucinatory and a wholly original work of art. Dupuy depicts himself as a jogger who envisions a series of introspective encounters in the form of lucid dreams, which involve a self-amputating dog, Lucha Libre wrestlers, the anthropomorphic ďForest FriendsĒ and his mother.
At first glance the roughly sketched illustrations, which bring to mind the doodle quality of John Lennonís portraits, belie their understated expressive power. But they soon suck you into the dream world. This is a transcendent work.
Grade: A
 
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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, itís 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 itís completed, do you find that your impression of it has changed greatly?

Charles Berberian: Iíll 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 elseís 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 í84, and it was quite an experience, because it was like talking to us, 20 years ago. Itís not really comfortable. Itís not a comfortable situation. Weíre lucky though, that we can still be connected with the people we were, 20 years agoóweíre physically connected, because drawing is very physical. But itís uncomfortable, because you really get a notion of time that that has faded away.

Philippe Dupuy: Yeah, but itís okay for me when I read the our old work, because itís still meóus. And I can discover something new, reading it, ten years after. I see the evolution, and I donít want to do the same things again. I donít 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 didnít want to do an autobiographical book like that, with me on each page. But Iím in the book, anyway, and I know that the next time I do something personal or autobiographical, the idea is to not draw myselfótalking about myself without representing me directly, but a friend told me that this is maturity, when you are doing that, when youíre talking about yourself, but not saying, ďI, I, I.Ē

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

PD: I think that in different work, when you say ďI,Ē Itís just a different way to talk about things.

CB: The best books Iíve read were written with the ďI.Ē Some were written by older people.

PD: When I said ďmaturity,Ē I was talking maybe just about mine. I suppose itís not the same for other people.

CB: No, because I thinkóyou like Picasso and Matisse very much, and when these guys are older, theyíre drawing like they did when they were kids, but with the maturity of an old man, but their strengthówhat makes them really precious is that theyíre 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 weíre using the ďIĒ perspective.

Iím like Philippe, I donít want to do this, all of the time, and the book that weíre publishing in May, thereís no way you can connect us to the characters, because thereís no Monsieur Jean there, but I tend to think that thereís somehow one of us in there. And the projection is something thatís very suitable, when youíre writing a story. You project yourself into a character, and as a reader, thatís 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 ďIĒ 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 youíre writing and there is this implication and there is this certain way of dealing with things that youíre writing about that is very direct and the fact that you are or are not using ďI,Ē thatís not very important. But when youíre using ďI,Ē and youíre implicating people from your entourage, like your own family, itís very difficult, demanding, and dangerous. You have to have a very important subject, otherwise you can use an mask, and thereís not problem with that.

David B. had problems with his family, after publishing Epileptic, and I asked him why heíd didnít use another name. He said, ďno, it wouldnít have been the same. I had to implicate my family, otherwise the book wasnít worth drawing.Ē So, I donít know much about maturity. Iím probably the last guy who can talk about that, but as a reader, Iím sure about what Iím saying. As a writer, I donít know.

ĖBrian 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
THE DAILY CROSS HATCH
07apr08

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 artistsí work independently of one another, a chance repeated once again with the release of Dupuyís solo book Haunted, earlier this year.

Haunted is, in many ways, a departure from the duoís beloved and long-running series, Monsieur Jean, exploring a manner of storytelling not often present in the everyman plotlines of Dupuy and Berberianís 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 díAngoulÍmeósomething of a comics lifetime achievement awardóit 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: Itís not really big issues. Theyíre basic issues of everyday lifeóthis 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 heís 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: Itís crazy. When I write the dialogues of people, itís just the things I donít understand. I write what they say. When I go back, I change nothing. The dialogs are really good. Itís true that when youíre drawing, people donít care so much, apparently. At the beginning they care, but soon they forget, and you are invisible.

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

PD: No, itís impossible, because you canít recognize comic artists, because weíre not actors, or something like that. Just one or two times, people came and asked me, ďare you the guy who draws Monsieur Jean?Ē

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. Itís the same phenomenon. Maus was really a big breakthrough in France, and it took like ten years to fabricate a generation of writers and cartoonistsóĒgraphic novelistsĒóto take over. And now in France, thereís 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 donít have the same kind of down-to-earth books that I really enjoy reading when Iím reading graphic novels, because I really feel authors connected with the real world. French literature today is into this sort of, ďIím writing a very important book.Ē

PD: Theyíre looking at themselves a lot.

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

PD: Youíre right, this is a problem. Itís a difficult question. I think that sometimes Iím fighting for the comics to be recognized. People think that everyone in France thinks that comics are great. Thatís not really true. Many people think that comics are just for kids or stupidótheyíre not really books. And we know that thatís not true, so we have to fight. But we donít want to be stars. Iím 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, ďyes, I am one of the two guys.Ē And it was enough. Imagine if people were doing that all the time. I wouldnít 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'AngoulÍme]?

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

CB: They will! Now that weíre 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: Iím a reader and Iím 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 í85, we considered stopping drawing graphic novels, because we didnít 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 importantóI really think that whatís important to me or us is not whatís 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. Dickís books and Egon Schielleís paintings.

Whatís important about what weíre doing is not for us to say. Itís 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 canít focus on that, when weíre doing a book. When Philippe started working on Haunted, it was really exciting.

PD: There arenít really any big subjects in Haunted. I donít talk about big things, about the world. But for me, the subjects are very important. You talk about Maus by Spiegelman. Everyone thinks itís a wonderful book because itís talking about such a big subjectóthe 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 holocaustó

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 youíre talking about small pieces of your lifeóthe good periods and the bad periodsóthose are universal. When you are a reader, the most important thing is that when you close the book, you donít 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 couldnít remember which stories Iíd read and which I hadnít. 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: Thatís great! It was your story.

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

You donít have to explain everything when youíre writing a story, because thereís a contract between the writer and the reader in the space you leave when youíre writing. The reader can fill in the gaps. Maybe itís not what youíre reading thatís memorable. Itís what you put inside. That drives you back to reading books, the fact something happened whil you were reading it. Talking about Mausóthere 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 whatís very interesting about art in general.

[Concluded in Part Four].

ĖBrian 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
THE DAILY CROSS HATCHT
24mar08


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 artistsí 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 artistís individual strengths and sharp move away from the subtle realism of the teamís work on Monsieur Jean. Dupuyís 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 Dupuyís 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 bookís raw quality?

PD: The idea was to draw Haunted as if you were writing. I didnít 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 workódoing 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. Itís very strange, because you donít decide the structure, the idea of where youíre 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. Thatís trueówhen 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. ďI have to do that, that, and that. And I want to collect things to do.Ē 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, Iíd write it and try to make a story of it. The idea was to show things you canít see. It was a bit of a challenge to write a book full of impossible thingsóthings 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 didnít draw. And there were some pages that I didnít put in, because I didnít want to explain things too much. But there wasnít too much that didnít make it, though in my sketchbook, there were a lot of thingsópeople 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 Tezukaís work, and I was reading Phoenix and Buddha. I really thought we should bend our writing in that direction.

What exactly is it about Tezukaís 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 Tezukaís work is really amazing. Iíve never read anything like that, and when I started reading the pages that would become Haunted, I was amazed by the link to Tezukaís work. I asked him if he had read Tezukaís work, and he said, ďno.Ē So I was very impressed by that. I think it helped usófor our next project, which weíre 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 youíre working on a character like Monsieur Jean, you have a certain graphical vocabulary, and you canít move out easily from that, because itís a comfortable house with comfortable furniture. And itís cold outside. You tend to want to stay indoors. Whenever one of us goes outside and says, ďokay, you can come outside. Itís not so bad. Itís not so raining and freezing. Come out and we can try something else.Ē That helps.

So the next book isnít Monsieur Jean?

CB: No. Weíre outside the house.

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

CB: No, itís just that we have to put our old clothes in the laundry and hopefully wear them again, after theyíre cleaned up.

But when youíre 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, Iím sure. When you change a few small things, some people are sad that itís not the same as before. You canít know, but I think we will do what we want. If we want to move everything with Monsieur Jean, we will do it. Itís always like that with lifeówhen you lose something, you win something. We have to accept that weíll 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, itís to move ahead. To do that, things canít be artificial. When weíre changing our drawing or writing styles, itís 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 itís the same when I was working on Haunted. It worked because it was urgent to draw like that.

The next book wonít be the same. Weíre going to do the next one together. I think we might be draw separatelyómaybe some will be done together. We donít know. We just started working on the story, and I think that will decide how we are going to workóseparately 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 canít do?

CB: Yeah, thatís true. We just finished a book just before getting on a plane to New York. Itís stepping outside of Monsieur Jean, but staying inside the same neighborhood. It depicts the same characters but we donít 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 weíre 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 drawóa 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 itís 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 isnít very interesting, so weíre just looking down on the street, to see whatís going on.

CB: The two last Monsieur Jean books that were published in Franceóbut not yet in the US and Canadaóthe 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 heís 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. Itís like you have a friend who you havenít seen in many years, and when you see him again, a lot of things have changed. Heís been married and divorced and lost his hair.

[Continued in Part Three.]

ĖBrian 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
THE DAILY CROSSHATCH
11mar08

Itís perhaps the ultimate sign of how insular a nation weíve 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.

Itís been ten years since youíve 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 didnít 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, ďenough of New York. Letís try some place else.Ē But I think itís time to come back.

But youíve been to other parts of the states since then?

CB: Oh, San Diego, for Comic Con. It was strange, because Iíve been to New York more often than Barcelona. And Iím 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 wasó

CB: In í95.

PD: My daughter had just been born. So, imagineÖ

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: Itís 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. Iím assuming thatís why both of you came out.

CB: I donít 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 andÖ

CD: Get a Life.

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

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

CB: Weíll answer the questions, you know? If the questions are focused on Haunted, Iíll let Phillippe do the talking, and I think Iíll take a napócatch up on the jet lag.

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

PD: Yeah, itís the first time Iím really doing this. Itís true that itís recent, because after 20 years of working together, I did this one alone, but Charles wrote some books for other artists and now heís working on another.

CB: I did a book about music. But itís not a comic book. Itís 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 couldnít 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. Itís true. But with Maybe Later, itís not really the same thing, because the idea with the book was to talk about how we are when weíre 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 itís 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 personís pages and then working on your own?

PD: Yeah. And for Haunted, itís completely different. Itís the kind of book that youíre working on at one moment and talking about personal things. When I read the book now, I can see that Iím not just talking about myself, but some family stories as well. This is really mine. I canít imagine that if Charles was writing about his own life, or when he was a kid in Beirutówhat could I say about that? Iíve never stepped foot in the city, so I couldnít be in the book.

Every time we consume artówhether itís a book, a comic, or a piece of music, weíre 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 itís not necessarily intended to be shared, at the beginning. It depends on the reaction. Say I have an ideaóIíll talk about it with Philippe, and he reacts to it, weíll probably develop this idea as a collaborative project. But then again, if he doesnít bounce back, then itís probably not such a good idea, so Iíll 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, itís more like ideas standing in line, and we just go from one to the other, until weíre sure that this one is the more exciting one for the moment. For instance, the book I made about musicóitís not as heavy a subject as the one that Philippe was doing with, when he made Haunted. You donít want to share anotherís 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 didnít 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, ďletís try something else.Ē

And itís the same thing with the illustrationsóthereís another part of our collaborations, which is as important as us drawing graphic novels. Itís us being illustrators. We never intended to share this part of our work, but it happened that way, so thereís a certain excitement of bouncing back to each othersí ideas, and even though I sometimes enjoy working on my own, Iím really happy to work together, and itís 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, ĎI can use this the next time I work with Charles.í Working alone isnít a risk that weíll separate, but the possibility to put more into the next collaboration

[Continued in Part Two.]

ĖBrian Heater
 
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  HAUNTED reviewed by North Adams Transcript

Updated April 15, 2008


Haunted by Phillipe Dupuy (Drawn and Quarterly)
By John E. Mitchell
North Adams Transcript
Friday, April 4

French cartoonist Phillipe Dupuy brings the reader along as a jogging partner on a journey through his own landscapes -- psychological and physical -- in the short story collection "Haunted."

Dupuy's rushed and sketchy art style gives the book the feel of a quick and personal journal, though at the same times the visuals can echo the loose line work of Ludwig Bemelmans. The framing device only bolsters this intimate impression -- there are several pieces that depict Dupuy's thought process while jogging, where the stream-of-consciousness involved in the self-analysis often finds its way to the real world.

Anyone who has done any sort of satisfactory exercise can probably identify with the idea a physical exertion, when done properly, unleashes the psychological, frees the mind to go where it will.

That's exactly what's going on here, giving Dupuy the opportunity to converse with his dead mother, reminisce about things that disturbed him as a kid, and get into a philosophical conversation with a duck.

Dupuy extends the themes from this self searching into little anecdotes involving the angst of animals and Mexican wrestlers -- and some other asides -- treating them with the tenderness that is perhaps missing in his self-portraits.

Not all the individual stories stand alone -- though all of them work together to make a thoughtful collection -- but there are several of great strength on their own, including "Forest Friends," which follows a group of animals dealing with a troubled friend who has lost a limb, and "Lucha Libre," the Mexican wrestler story in question that ambles along mysteriously before ending with a superb sweetness.

In the end, Dupuy is able to put himself in the same place as his characters and "Haunted" stands a testament to the notion that comics don't have to be about flash and concept, just honest lines and ideas.
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HAUNTED reviewed by HIPSTER BOOK CLUB

Updated April 10, 2008


HAUNTED
Reviewed by Yennie Cheung
HIPSTER BOOK CLUB
April, 2008

Daydreams aren't easy to control. Even in conscious thought, the mind wanders into ideas that are as nonsensical as those experienced in deep sleep. In Haunted, renowned French artist Philippe Dupuy crosses the blurred line that separates dreams from daydreams, using it to create a work that is as introspective as it is strange.
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Dupuy writes himself into his book as a man who takes up jogging the day after experiencing a strange dream. While on these jogs, Dupuy occupies his mind with surreal, highly philosophical stories which he calls "Run Movies." In one of these movies, he has a conversation with a homeless woman who seems to have no eyes but sees him nonetheless, and she teaches him about self-awareness. In another, he urinates in the front yard of a highly educated Buddhist duck going through an identity crisis (as all ducks are wont to do).

In between each "Run Movie" are short stories that often seem more linear but still convey varying degrees of strangeness. In "Forest Friends," a trio of anthropomorphic animals tries to comfort a friend who has lost his arm. Their bumbling attempts at empathy and copingówhich include drinking, impotence, and nightmares about quadriplegic peeingóread like a primetime sitcom about moronic twenty-somethings. But the tale is still poignant because their sadness and feelings of ineptitude are absurdly human.

Though the stories are fictional, each work feels intimately autobiographicalóa look into the wandering mind of an artist while his body is otherwise engaged. The rough, occasionally childlike black and white drawings further the idea that these images have come to him in a dreamlike state. Settings sometimes appear as no more than quick doodles, as if they are meant to be as abstract as his thoughts.

The title, however, suggests that these dreams are not pleasant onesóthat they are demons that stay with him no matter how far he runs. This is especially apparent when Dupuy revisits themes of lost body parts and relationships. One doesn't have to study Freud to see that these dreams may be manifestations of real life troubles. In one "Run Movie," Dupuy finds himself jogging with his dead mother. In another story, a minotaur-like animal wanders a labyrinth, is emasculated by a swarm of maggots, and snaps when it encounters two creatures having sex.

The deeper meanings of Dupuy's stories are sometimes too obvious to be considered particularly deep, but to fault the book for a little amateur psychology would be to miss the point. Haunted doesn't seem to be a work meant to entertain or inform the masses. Instead, it is a work of personal introspection and perhaps an attempt to exorcise the artist's own demons, whether they are fictional or not.
 
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  HAUNTED reviewed by Publishers Weekly

Updated April 3, 2008


Haunted Philippe Dupuy
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
3/31/2008

Best known for the Mr. Jean series that he collaborates on with Charles Berberian, Dupuy strikes out on his own in a graphic novel first published in French in 2006. Looking more like the sketches for a novel than the novel itself, Dupuy's loosely imagined fantasy is structured around an episodic series of ďRun MoviesĒ wherein the runner has incidental encounters and thoughts. Interspersed with these episodes are recollections of dreams, presumably from the runner's unconscious, of uncommon darkness (usually of the violently sexual mythological variety). Eventually the two series begin to merge, as in ďRun Movie #3,Ē wherein the runner falls into an empty museum and is informed by a barking dog that ďoddly enough, bare spaces sometimes invite the most curiosity.Ē Dupuy's loose sketches evoke the occasional shiver of discomfort, but sometimes he brings the dark dream world into sharp focus. In one story, the runner encounters an erudite duck living in a fantastically large house, after which the two have a conversation that begins in the ridiculous but ultimately edges into the sublime. While Dupuy's artwork and sometimes cruel-seeming viewpoint toward his characters repel at first, eventually the book becomes like a dream itself, next to impossible to resist. (Mar.)
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HAUNTED reviewed by The Daily Cross Hatch

Updated February 28, 2008


Haunted by Philippe Dupuy
ĖBrian Heater
THE DAILY CROSS HATCH
27 feb 08


Uttered to your average American comics fanóeven those well versed in the ways of the indie publishing salt minesóthe name Philippe Dupuy will invoke, at best, a blank stare. Itís a shame, to be sure, but all in all, not too altogether surprising.

Like nearly every other frontier of American culture, popular or otherwise, the output of the rest of the world is largely ignored, or brushed aside into some specialty section. Perhaps itís the lack of titles that actually make it to our comic store shelves, or maybe itís just an embarrassment of riches, with foreign artist buried beneath the deluges of their homegrown counterparts.

Whatever the case may be, artists like Dupuy donít suffer the same manner of indifference in their home countries. In fact, the artist, along with his long time collaborator, Charles Berberian, was awarded 2008ís prestigious Grand Prix de la ville díAngoulÍme, putting them in such company as Robert Crumb and Will Eisner, helping establish them as the rightful heirs to Franceís rich cartooning history.

The two artists have been collaborating for more than 20 years, producing, most notably, the long running Monsieur Jean, which has since become one of the most beloved series in contemporary French comics. That the artists collaborate in every step on the process, including stories, layouts, pencils, and inks, has lead to a good deal of speculations as to the individual talents of both parties. Released by Drawn & Quarterly in 2006, Maybe Later offered a unique glimpse into the individual talents of both artists, featuring a series of vignettes written seperately by Dupuy and Berberian.


The bookís follow up, Haunted, marks a further shift, with Dupuy completely on his own, this time out. The art contained in the volume is decidedly more rough than that what was on display in Maybe Later, with layouts that seem to have been virtually untouched since first being scrawled in the pages of the artistís sketchbook. Visually, the work lacks a good deal of the polished charm that has made the duoís collaborations so immediately accessible to international audience. One almost immediately gets the feeling, however, that, like his temporary flirtation with the solo life, Dupuyís momentary abandonment of production values has afforded him a newfound level of freedom.

The resulting strips flow with a reckless abandon that feels as if Dupuy has abandoned the concept of scripting altogether, instead opting to see where each subsequent panel will take him. The stories pulse with a dreamlike logic, alternatively light and dark, broaching levels of the artistís subconscious in a way that would seem woefully out of place in a thoughtfully scripted work like Monsieur Jean, as if Dupuy had written each individual story at the night table of his bed, still groggy from a deep sleep.

For those unfamiliar with the work of Dupuy and Berberian would do better to pick up a book like Get a Life, which showcases the duo at the height of their collaborative powers. For those seeking further insight into the artists, however, works donít come much closer to unraveling the psyche of their creators than Haunted.


 
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