But I Really Wanted to be an Anthropologist: Margaux Motin

June 29th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

So this graphic memoir came out last month. Memoir… though it’s autobiographical, and covers a roughly contained stretch of time, it’s more a collection of one- or two-page gags strips. Margaux Motin, a freelance Parisian illustrator and cartoonist, excels at this sort of personal humor. Usually named, along with Penelope Bagieu and Nine Antico as the up-and-coming girl stars of graphic fiction, she’s an absolute champ at drawing herself, or her cartoon persona, whom Teddy Jamieson, in The Glasgow Herald, called “a dirty-minded, potty-mouthed, thong-flaunting… Posy Simmonds,” while Hillary Brown, in Paste Magazine, called her an unlikely combination of “Cathy and Lewis Trondheim…  a French Jenny McCarthy (gleefully vulgar… while committed… to presenting herself as an object of desire),” noting  her drawings have “plenty of charm.” Sexy, self-mocking, high-maintenance but mindful of it, her cartoon alter ego has that sort of dashed-off look some women aspire to in real life: an artful muss or casual dishevelment that actually took hours of careful strategizing. Motin’s fluid line conveys a sort of Feifferesque nervous urban jazziness. She’s also terrific at expressions. In what I hope will be a compliment to her, it reminded me of Marcos Chin’s posters for the dating site Lavalife. In what will definitely date my Manhattan days, I remember always seeing these in subway cars.

Anthropologist isn’t exactly Sex and the City: Paris Edition, laced as it is with more humor about dealing with a kid daughter. This is the first time I’ve ever done anything remotely chick-lit, and it was a fun experience, delving into the different vocabulary, finding cultural equivalents, and trying to give the jokes the same snap and tang as in the French. The Publishers Weekly review is quite complimentary, and gives a great sense of the book:

French blogger and illustrator Motin makes her English-language debut in this funny and fresh translation of her first graphic novel. Originally published in France in 2009, the book collects largely stand-alone cartoons in the style of Motin’s blog. Fashion-obsessed, self-employed artist Motin is the mother of a toddler (“the tyrant”), has a tense relationship with her mother, and is married to a man who provides equal opportunities to be the butt of the joke—and to turn the joke back around on Motin. The humor translates brilliantly because her self-mockery is in exactly the right tone to make readers rejoice in her small victories. Several of the anecdotes are also reminiscent of comedies where adults who have responsibilities sometimes still act like they did when they were in college, with funny and revealing results. Motin’s cartoonish illustrations and her use of color for effect rather than realism create a whimsical tone and bolster her already comedic antics. A great choice for a beach read—or a guilty pleasure.

Motin’s a popular cartoon-blogger (you can get a sense of her , and some kind reviews on Goodreads and Stumptown have called for more of her work to be translated. I’m game!

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