Rancourt's frank, engaging and surprisingly sunny depiction of life as a nude dancer continues to break new ground by refusing to outright condemn or celebrate what happens in the once-ubiquitous downtown Montreal strip clubs...Using a charming visual style to represent graphic content, Rancourt challenges conventional divides between the innocent and the erotic, not to mention the pornographic.Winnipeg Free Press
"Charming, innocent and empathetic... Rancourt passes the reader a gift: the ability to experience and see a venal adult life through the forgiving, blameless and easily-wounded eyes of a child.“—Chris Ware, from his Introduction.
In 1980, Sylvie Rancourt and her boyfriend moved to Montreal from rural Northern Quebec. With limited formal education or training, they had a hard time finding employment, so Sylvie began dancing in strip clubs. These experiences formed the backbone of the first Canadian autobiographical comic book, Melody, which Rancourt wrote, drew, and distributed, starting in 1985. Later, Rancourt collaborated with artist Jacques Boivin, who translated and drew a new series of Melody comics for the American market–the comics were an instant cult classic.
The Rancourt drawn-and-written comics have never before seen English publication. These stories are compelling without ever being voyeuristic or self-pitying, and her drawings are formally innovative while maintaining a refreshingly frank and engaging clarity. With a knowing wink at the reader, Rancourt shares a world that, in someone else’s writing, might be scandalous or seedy, but in hers is fully realized, real, and often funny.
The Drawn & Quarterly edition of Melody, featuring an introduction from Chris Ware (Building Stories), will place this masterpiece of early autobiographical comics in its rightful place at the heart of the comics canon.
Melody: Story of a Nude Dancer has been translated from the French by Helge Dascher. Dascher has been translating graphic novels from French and German to English for over twenty years. A contributor to Drawn & Quarterly since the early days, her translations include acclaimed titles such as the Aya series by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie, Hostage by Guy Delisle, and Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët. With a background in art history and history, she also translates books and exhibitions for museums in North America and Europe. She lives in Montreal.
Praise for Melody
...see what love and life look like, freed from all spite.The Globe and Mail
Melody is so interesting because it doesn’t pretend to a teleological arc or promises one single ethical or political takeaway. What stands out are not meaningful moments of decision making, of definitive descent or ascent, but the pauses in between, life’s indeterminate crevices and nooks.The Comics Journal
"[Melody] wears its crudely-drawn, authentic aesthetic on its sleeve; the book, indeed, is nothing if not honest"Max Winter, The Boston Globe
Honest but never exploitative.Quill and Quire
The book finds wonderful balance, making the mundane details of Melody’s life a delight to engage with...This is an unvarnished look at exotic dancing, a tribute to fortitude and optimism, and a sincere reflection on a colorful life.Publishers Weekly, starred review
[Melody] is an incredibly fun and addictive read. Page after page and chapter after chapter, it’s hard to voluntarily leave Melody’s world. Rancourt, with her warm welcoming voice, manages to challenge stereotypes about strippers, and the sex industry as a whole...This is a must-read for fans of autobiographical comics.PopMatters
Weird and personal, Melody is utterly original and shows the efforts of a finely observant mind.Paste
There's a lightness to Rancourt's touch that initially seems like a limitation but, as one gets further into Melody, becomes evidence of her hard-won artistry. Sequences repeat as if they're refrains from pop music, and start to feel as catchy as a sunshiny hit... There is a genius in the way Rancourt's depiction of her life refuses melodrama or moralizing. She never apologizes, and never explains, only (shamelessly) documents.National Post
The adventures of [Rancourt's] alter ego, Melody, and her conniving and manipulative boyfriend, Nick, are told simply and without contrivance. Despite the tawdry mis en scene, Mélody’s mostly innocent adventures are sweet, realistic and compelling.Miami Herald
[Rancourt] depicts Melody’s job, her customers, and her frustratingly dysfunctional relationship with her drug-dealing boyfriend in a matter-of-fact way that never sensationalizes or editorializes but instead attempts to convey life with a simple, plain honesty.Mental Floss
A refreshing perspective for sexual memoir…Melody shows that women's bodies can be funny, empowering, honest, and ultimately, not yours to define.Maisonneuve
At long last, the first full appearance in English of a landmark in cartooning history...Read Melody, and see what love and life look like, freed from all spite.The Globe and Mail
...a visually rich, lightly humorous and sometimes pleasantly ironic sketch of a woman caught up in delightful urban depravity.Broken Pencil
[Rancourt's] treatment of sex work is refreshingly progressive...the drawings are a simple reflection of real life and, in real life, people get naked. Praise for Rancourt’s work is decades late.Bitch