Pursuant to my jeremiad yesterday about the absence of any English language editions of Jacques Tardi's work, it gives me enormous pleasure -- admit it, you saw this coming — to announce that...
Well, let's go to the press release.
"This summer, Fantagraphics will launch an ongoing series of hardcover books presenting the works of the legendary French cartoonist Jacques Tardi.
"The first two releases will be West Coast Blues (Le petit bleu de la Côte Ouest), a hard-boiled crime thriller adapted by Tardi from the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, and You Are There (Ici même), a satirical, surreal story written for Tardi by Barbarella creator Jean-Claude Forest that many consider one of the first true French graphic novels. Both will be released simultaneously in August, in what series editor Kim Thompson (ahem) calls a ‘double-pronged shock-and-awe assault on the American readership, to immediately show off Tardi's versatility.'
"Planned for Spring 2010 is the World War I-themed It Was the War of the Trenches, chapters of which have previously appeared in RAW and Drawn and Quarterly magazines during the 1980s and 1990s.
"‘Tardi has always been one of my top favorite European cartoonists,' said Thompson, who will also be translating the books. ‘I've wanted to do this for many years — pretty much as long as we've been publishing — and I think the time is ripe. In today's graphic-novel world, the audience is finally ready for Tardi.'"
Isn't that cool?
In the next couple of days I'll talk a little more about these two books.
One of my all-time favorite cartoonists, and certainly one my favorite European cartoonist of the last 30 years or so, is Jacques Tardi.
It's been a source of constant annoyance and sadness to me that so far, every attempt to bring Tardi's work to an English speaking audience has been, at best, a mitigated success, and certainly never a big enough of one to warrant continuation. And it's been years since anyone even tried.
So we've seen Dark Horse (in Cheval Noir) and NBM try to launch the Adele Blanc-Sec series, both Fantagraphics (in Graphic Story Monthly back in the 1990s) and iBooks (in the Bloody Streets of Paris album) take a stab of Tardi's "Nestor Burma" adaptations, while one of his masterpieces, "It Was the War of the Trenches," was attempted in bits and pieces by both Drawn and Quarterly and RAW. But so far nothing has stuck.
I don't know why that is. Tardi represents to me one of the peaks of modern cartooning. He's managed to somehow alchemically infuse the vigor and sheer comic-page readability of the best humor cartooning with the gravitas and conviction of the best "realistic" illustration, to create an uninterrupted series of witty, wry, and sublimely beautiful graphic novels. I've got Art Spiegelman on my side on this one, too: He put Tardi in at least three issues of RAW Magazine, and it was a perfect fit.
So the fact that at this point NONE of Tardi's work is in print in an English language edition is cause for shame and embarrassment in our soi-disant enlightened graphic novel industry.
Each year the Dedica Festival in northern Italy celebrates a single writer. Last year they invited Nadine Gordimer and this year they will raise a glass or two of Chianti to Paul Auster. The graphic novel version of Auster's "City of Glass" has sold out of three separate editions in Italy so the organizers of the event have also invited Paul Karasik to Dedica at the end of March. For the first time Karasik's original panel-by-panel breakdowns of City of Glass will be exhibited and a limited edition of facsimile copies will be sold. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear Auster and Karasik discuss the process of the creation of the graphic novel.
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