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THE SATIRICAL MASTERPIECE THAT USHERED IN THE GRAPHIC NOVEL ERA TO EUROPEAN COMICS… FINALLY AVAILABLE IN ENGLISH
One of the earliest full-length, standalone graphic novels to be published in Europe, and certainly one of the best and most original, Ici Même was serialized in the adult French comics monthly (A suivre) in the early 1980s and then released in book form. A quarter of a century later, this dark, funny, consistently surprising masterpiece has finally been translated into English.
An unexpected yet smoothly confident collaboration between the darkly cynical Jacques Tardi and the playful fantasist Jean-Claude Forest (of Barbarella fame), You Are There is set on a small island off the coast of France, where unscrupulous landowners have succeeded in overtaking the land from the last heir of a previously wealthy family. That heir, whose domain, in a Beckettian twist, is now reduced to the walls that border these patches of land he used to own, prowls the walls all day, eking out a living by collecting tolls at each gate.
His seemingly hopeless struggle to recover his birthright becomes complicated as the government sees a way of using his plight for the sake of political expediency, and the romantic intervention of the daughter of one of the landowners (who has her own sordid history with the politician) engenders further difficulties, culminating in an apocalyptic, hallucinatory finale.
Set in Tardi’s preferred early 20th century milieu, You Are There is drawn in his crisp 1980s neo-“clear line” style, gorgeously detailed, elegantly stylized, with impossibly deep slabs of black: You Are There is a feast for both the eyes and the brain.
This new paperback edition features a long introduction by Dr. Bart Beaty, situating You Are There in the context both of the history of French comics and Tardi's and Forest's oeuvre.
"You Are There is a masterpiece — a work unique in the history of comics, one of those books one reads and re-reads." – David B. (Epileptic)
19-page excerpt (download 1.4 MB PDF):
Praise for the hardcover:
#8, Best Archival/Reprints of 2009, The Comics Reporter
crackpot sensibility comes from Forest, best-known for creating the similarly droll SF heroine Barbarella,
but it’s Tardi’s art, with its keen compositions, carefully placed areas of black and white, and sensuous line
work, that ties the untidy story together. When this cynical, surreal satire appeared in France in the late
1970s, it was seen as a landmark in the development of the bande dessinée; three decades later, it stands to
play a similarly valuable role by introducing American readers to one of Europe’s greatest cartoonists."
– Gordon Flagg, Booklist
"You Are There... really stands out to me... because of the way that [Tardi] is able to play with the medium and push the comics to a point of no return." – Robin McConnell (Inkstuds), The Daily Cross Hatch, "The Best Damned Comics of 2009 Chosen by the Artists"