Spotted! Manu Larcenet’s comics

French comic artist, Manu Larcenet

In a world full of chaos, you yearn for an answer. You search for solace that the world cannot give. Taking photographs enable you to catch fleeting moments of peace in the midst of uncertainties and human vunerability. Yet you question the place and purpose of your art in your life and in the world at large.

This week in Illustration, ArtZine takes a look at French comic artist Manu Larcenet’s comic entitled “Ordinary Victories” that talks of Marco, who’s caught in the world described above.

Synopsis

Enter Marco, a French photographer who suffers from panic attacks and sinks into depression. He stops taking photographs in third world locations (and quits seeing a psychologist); opting for a quiet life in an old country house far from the busy life he was acquainted with.

In the woods, he searches for solace. In a world full of uncertainties and grey areas, he is thrown into chaos: new problems, violence, moral issues. His panic attacks return soon after. Marco does what he knows best – he takes photographs, trying to capture fleeting moments of peace in a chaotic world. He loves his photos but when he looks at them, he struggles with the purpose of his art.

Marco finds solace in his art, nature, and the company of others.

Take a Peek

Themes

Manu Larcenet’s comic explores the following:

  • The rise in popularity of right-wing politicians
  • The inner ugliness of many artists
  • How the mortality and frailty of our loved ones is more frightening than our own
  • The lack of simple respect shown to other
  • The desperate, dirty tricks people pull to make themselves better
  • Fear of committment to a relationship
  • The rise of interracial marriages

Larcenet’s style

Larcenet draws Marco having a goofy, big-nose – a minimalistic style that works perfectly. Scribbles and scratches make up Marco’s world. Both characters and background are drawn with a similar thin sketchy line. Strokes don’t always connect, shapes are open at the corners. The characters have a caricatural appearance, small in stature with exaggerated features, four fingers, and dots or circles for eyes.

Big themes are discussed not in an information-overload way but in subtle hints, allowing the reader to pick it out yourself and think about it. The saying “it tells you not what to think, but what to think about” definitely comes into play here.

The comic has an episodic structure. The episodes are occasionally punctuated by one page interludes narrated by Marco. These interludes consist of eight equal panels drawn in a sketchy, realistic style (that look like something out of a sketchbook) and a brownish olive palette. 

The outdoor drawings have a much more realistic appearance than the characters and the interiors, though upon closer examination they are made of many scribbles. The outside world is chaotic at heart but often coherent and structured from a distance.

Colours show emotion changes. Eg: When Marco has his panic attacks or some other emotionally violent episode (learning of his father’s Alzheimer’s) the world becomes red.

ArtZine Pokes-and-Questions

How would you represent a chaotic world using your own artistic style?

Choose one of the themes discussed above. What are your views?

“The photo of the century” – as mentioned in the comic below. What denotes a photo/artwork of the century?

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