On sale date: November 10, 2009
The satirical masterpiece that ushered in the graphic novel era to European comics, finally available in English—the beginning of an ambitious publishing project introducing one of Europe's most beloved cartoonists to American audiences.
One of the earliest full-length, standalone graphic novels to be published in Europe, and certainly one of the best and most original, Ici Meme 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.
"The work's 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
"Fantagraphics' panties-to-the-floor handsome English-language version...may blow its own share of minds some three decades after the work's initial publication. … It's a lost episode of Ripping Yarns in comics form by two in-their-prime masters, the French turned up to dix." — Tom Spurgeon - The Comics Reporter
"Translated into English for the first time since it was written, more than 25 years ago, Jacques Tardi & Jean-Claude Forest's You Are There proves well worth the wait. Forest's satirical, minimalist writing lampoons French society and human greed with equal skill, and Tardi has never done better art: It's all deep, dark pools of blackness that perfectly match the pitch-dark humor of the writing. Equal parts Beckett and Kafka, the story explores the conflict between greedy speculators and the last heir of an aristocratic family whose land has been reduced to a series of precarious walls and towers. Tardi's intricate, gorgeous art gets better and better until the book's spectacular ending. It's an absolute must-read for anyone interested in how European comics got to where they are today. Had this been translated earlier, it likely would be counted as one of the masterpieces of the rich period of the mid-'80s… [Grade:] A." — The Onion A.V. Club
"Tardi's intricate, cartoony, and beautiful art perfectly expresses Forest's ideas and words. The humorous You Are There masterfully satirizes French society and politics unlike any comic before or since." — Rick Klaw - The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
"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., author of Epileptic
- Black and white.
- 8.3" × 10.8"