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Road Through Time

by Mary Soderstrom

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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The World of BD, or How Cartoons Go Serious

This morning Le Devoir has turned over the  entire paper to cartoonists.  The occasion is the opening of a new show of graphic illustration at the Musée des Beaux arts de Montréal, but it also is a sly way of commenting on the recent municipal election.

Instead of the usual photos accompanying news stories, the newspaper has asked the cream of Quebec's bédéistes (from bandes dessinées, the French term for cartoonists) to illustrate the news.  Some of them are right on, indeed.  And some of them are suitably méchant like the one above which shows mayor-elect Denis Coderre as the somewhat buffonish Asterix from the famous series of "comic books."

In the French-speaking world, illustrated books have long been considered seriously.  I remember being aghast when an artist friend suggested a book group I belong to read BDs for one of our monthly meetings.  But she presented a  number of beautifully drawn and produced books with story lines no more silly than many literary novels, and explained how the art work was of very high quality.

Since then I've taken "graphic novels," as they're called in the English-speaking world, far more seriously.  It's clear that the books frequently treat themes of substance, and are far from being the refuge of the semi-literate.  (Drawn and Quarterly, in whose bookstore I'll have my book launch Wednesday night, is a very successuly publisher of this kind of book.)  But the genre also always for much very  interesting comment on the state of the world.  Check out Le Devoir for sure today.

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