Tag Archives: Carnet de Voyage

Thompson, Delisle, Sacco and comics non-fiction

panelsoba.jpgThat’s Joe Sacco, to the right, looking out of the window in a restaurant in the old part of Sarajevo. As usual he is passive — listening to the stories that other people tell him, observing life around him and presumably taking notes, though in this frame, he doesn’t seem to have a notebook with him. He looks a lot like a — journalist. Oh. There’s no drawing pad, either. And that’s what usually separates him from other journalists: He is recording conversations,
observations, scenes AND he’s drawing them.

By this particular moment in War’s End: Profiles From Bosnia 1995-96 (2005, Drawn and Quarterly Books), Sacco has drawn and interviewed his subject, Soba, a lot. He’s also drawn the streets of Sarajevo, the insides of clubs and restaurants and apartments. He’s proven to be sympathetic to Soba’s account of his combat against the Serb nationalists attempting to defeat the Bosnian independence movement — he’s listened, he’s drawn, he’s located himself in the narrative. And something wonderful has happened: We’ve gotten to know Soba.
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Part two — Craig Thompson: O, the fame, the misery

This is Part Two of a four-part series. The introduction is here.

As Carnet de Voyage begins on March 6, 2004, Craig Thompson is 28 and heading for Paris. Blankets has been published in the U.S. the previous year, to major acclaim, and his European publishers want him to do a promotional tour for a couple of months, signing books for fans, meeting other comics artists, attending some big continental comics fests. Most, if not all, paid for by the publishers and convention organizers. Sweet! To be young, gifted, single and comped on a European vacation. He even has a side trip scheduled for Morocco. The Carnet is his sketchbook diary of that trip, and we might expect it to be a celebration, maybe even a bacchanal!

189183060001mzzzzzzz.jpgExcept that maybe we’ve read Blankets, and we’re pretty sure that Craig is not going to be able to give himself over to that sort of thing. And in fact, Craig is unhappy for a lot of Carnet. He counts the ways: he’s homesick, he misses his ex-girlfriend profoundly, she’s quite ill, he’s lonely, everything reminds him of her, he’s lonely, his hand hurts from so much drawing. Did we mention he’s lonely? His internal struggles spill out into the frames and pages of his notebook, enveloping them in fog of gloom. Morocco, near the beginning of the trip, is especially difficult, primarily because he doesn’t know anyone, doesn’t understand the culture very well and plunges into the worst melancholy of the trip.

By the time he returns to Europe, things start to lighten up. Some. Everything is more familiar. He eats great food. The pages feature more drawings of attractive women. He has conversations with interesting people, including his comic artist heroes. He sees relatively happy families in action. But his drawing hand REALLY hurts, enough to seek treatment, and despite the numbers of slender, attractive European women around him, he misses his ex. The commercial part of the comics biz is difficult for him — the speaking, signing of books, conventions. And then he leaves, though by the end he’s getting to like it. Barcelona? Hard to argue.

Why is this relatively familiar story so engaging?

Continue reading Part two — Craig Thompson: O, the fame, the misery