“Newsletter - Guy Delisle & Pyongyang” / Newsletter / Newsletter / August 18, 2005


French Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle, the author of the upcoming D+Q graphic novel PYONGYANG: A JOURNEY IN NORTH KOREA, is a featured cartoonist in this week’s issue of the New Yorker. Guy’s one-page color comic “Kim & Kim” accompanies a review by critic Ian Buruma of the book “Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty” by Bradley K. Martin.

PYONGYANG: A JOURNEY IN NORTH KOREA is an informative, personal, and accessible look at a dangerous and enigmatic country by cartoonist Guy Delisle while living in the nation’s capital for two months on a work visa for a French film animation company. Delisle observed what he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered; his findings form the basis of this remarkable graphic novel. Pyongyang is an informative, personal, and accessible look at a dangerous and enigmatic country.

Due out this September, PYONGYANG (Hardcover, 184 pages, b/w, $19.95, 1-896597-89-0) has already received buzz and rave reviews:

“Books like Persepolis—as well as Sacco's Palestine and Safe Area: Gorazde, and Guy Delisle's Pyongyang—are held up not only as great literature but also as instructive guides to global conflict zones.” ’—NEWSWEEK

“The true story of French animator Delisle's two-month gig in North Korea. The author accepted an assignment to work with a team of North Koreans hired to draw a cartoon series. This graphic novel depicts his time there, mostly in the capital city. Delisle stays at one of the three hotels in Pyongyang permitted to take foreign guests. The 50-story Yangakkdo is mostly empty; the only floor with its lights turned on is the one with foreigners on it. Accompanied everywhere by at least one of two government assigned ‘guides,’ the animator sees pretty much only what the powers that be want him to see. Even that limited view, however, reveals a fascistic and surreal landscape; a ‘phantom city in a hermit nation.’ Delisle is a good guide through this overly ordered world. He genuinely like the North Koreans and has no ideological axe to grind; he brings Orwell to read, but doesn't let it restrict his thinking. His sharp eye captures many telling details: a monstrously luxurious subway station (marble walls, chandeliers) that seems to be only for show; the empty restaurants, the ‘volunteer’ civilians obsessively cleaning everywhere he looks; and always the passionate reverence for Kim Jong II, whose portrait hangs ‘in every room, on every floor, in every building’ throughout the land. Brilliant, passionately rendered reportage.”’—KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW

"Guy Delisle is a wry 37-year-old French Canadian cartoonist whose work for a French animation studio requires him to oversee production at various Pacific Rim studios on the grim frontiers of free trade. His employer puts him up for months at a time in ‘cold and soulless’ hotel rooms where he suffers the usual maladies of the long-term boarder: cultural and linguistic alienation, boredom, and cravings for Western food and real coffee. Delisle depicts these sojourns into the heart of isolation in [the] brilliant graphic novel, Pyongyang..." ’—FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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