Picture This!

May 15th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Picture This

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy ran a fascinating series recently called Picture This! It brought together like-minded authors of children’s books and comics to talk shop and craft. The speakers duos included Hervé Tullet & Mo Willems, Boulet & Gabrielle Bell, Olivier Tallec & Oliver Jeffers, with Antoine Guilloppé & Istvan Banyai still to come on this Monday evening, May 13 at the SVA Theatre.

To help promote this initiative, the Cultural Services asked me to interview two of the artists on their list, whom I happen to translate: Alex Alice, author of Siegfried, the second volume of which is soon due from Archaia, and Blutch, whose book So Long, Silver Screen just came out from PictureBox. Sadly, the Blutch-David Mazzucchelli event is postponed for now.

Alex Alice and Ron Wimberly © Colombine Depaire

Alex Alice and Ron Wimberly © Colombine Depaire

You can read my short interview with Alex Alice at the French Culture site. A pity the interview was conducted remotely, through an intermediary; I would’ve liked to pin Alex for some more question about the fantastique, in which I consider myself something of an connoisseur… With any luck, the Blutch interview should be forthcoming.

Interviewed at Intralingo

May 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


In which I join the illustrious likes of Jim Kates and Lucas Klein in being profiled by translator, writer, and editor Lisa Carter at her site Intralingo. Spotlight on Literary Translators is her regular feature aimed at getting the word out about the profession and the work we do as translators. Like it? Leave a comment!

Thanks, Lisa!

Toppi’s Sharaz-De at The AV Club

May 11th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Toppi 3

Noel Murray covers the late great Sergio Toppi’s Sharaz-de: Tales From The Arabian Nights:

“a phenomenal fusion of artist and subject, as overpowering now as it was when Toppi’s densely textured illustrations were influencing even American superhero comics. (Walt Simonson offers a glowing Toppi appreciation in the new Sharaz-de edition’s foreword, and the more avant-garde impulses of Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz in the ’80s can be traced in part to Toppi.)… Toppi adapted some of the lesser-known tales, some in black-and-white and some in pale, painterly color… his elaborately rendered figures contain entire worlds within each wrinkle and fold. The folkloric nature of the original stories merges with Toppi’s stunning designs, giving Sharaz-de’s art the quality of ancient tapestries, endlessly unrolling.”

W. 11th & Bluff covers A Chinese Life

May 9th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

W. 11th & Bluff, the official blog of the Adult Services Department at Carnegie-Stout Public Library, Dubuque, Iowa, has a some insightful reactions to reading A Chinese Life. A big shout of thanks to the people of that river city and the Fenelon Place Elevator! I remember riding that one autumn in the last hours of a chili festival during my grad school years in IC.

It is remarkable that a member of the Chinese Communist Party would be so forthcoming, and that this is happening in a graphic novel. To some Westerners though, Li’s depictions of such events may seem more like an apparatchik’s apologia than a critical attempt to understand what happened…

With a subtle mix of humor and sadness, Li examines his strained relationship with his larger-than-life father, describes an awkward moment when he asks his girlfriend if she would pose nude for his drawings, and recalls helping his elderly mother make dumplings.

Besides being a great storyteller, Li’s artwork is brilliant. A Chinese Life is illustrated almost entirely in black and white. The contrast is stark and the composition is striking. Fascinating, energetic lines reveal austere landscapes, earthy villages, and chaotic cities. Characters’ hands and faces are especially expressive. Some of the most compelling panels lack dialogue; they are simple portraits of children at school, soldiers in barracks, villagers in markets, and workers in factories.

Now Out: Blutch’s So Long, Silver Screen

May 7th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Cover design by David Mazzuchelli

Cover design by David Mazzuchelli

Just out as of a week ago, legendary French cartoonist Blutch in his long-overdue, first full-length English language translation. What an honor it was to work on this! Earlier, I’d only been able to smuggle excerpts of the man’s work into print: for instance, “That Was Happiness” at Words Without Borders (with video and critical appreciation by David Varno). I’d love to do Peplum, Mitchum, Blotch, Le Petit Christian, or even Rancho Bravo… here’s hoping they await!

Over at BoingBoing, Craig Thompson interviews the artist who influenced a whole generation (including Thompson himself, whose powerhouse Blankets was, rumor has it, unjustly rejected by L’Association for being to Blutch-like), a veritable one-man indie industry who reinvents himself with every book.

And Noel Murray at The Onion AV Club covers the release in his regular roundup, calling it “the comic-book version of one of Jean-Luc Godard’s cine-essays, ranting about the phoniness of the movies while also damning them for their power to burn images into viewers’ brains.”

A debut not to be missed! Pick it up!

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