Graphic novels, all grown up
Art form's influence rises, and broadens. A look at three of the genre's stars.
(Page 3 of 3)
"With comics, because it's drawn by hand, because it's so up-front, there's a personal touch on every element," Lutes says. "If you do it right, there's an intimacy there – a coherent landscape for the reader to enter into."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Guy DeLisle – 'The Burmese Chronicles'
Marriage to a Médecins Sans Frontières administrator is often a drag: the constant travel, the blizzard of foreign languages, the uncomfortable guesthouse beds. But for Guy DeLisle, a French Canadian animator and writer, his years of transience quickly translated, he laughs, into a source of "artistic inspiration."
Mr. DeLisle, who is currently based in the south of France – although he will soon decamp to Jerusalem – has joined his wife on a score of trips, from Ethiopia to Vietnam, and has journeyed on his own to Pyongyang, North Korea, and Shenzhen, a sprawling factory city in southern China.
In 2000, he began collecting the experiences in graphic form, weaving spare illustrations and a wry inner monologue into dynamic portraiture.
"Shenzhen" was released in 2000 in Canada – and in 2006 in the US – to largely enthusiastic reviews. DeLisle's third book, entitled "Pyongyang," was published in English three years ago; it was driven by its humorous take on North Korean culture.
"It's my natural way of telling a story," DeLisle says. "With these books, and with my letters home to my friends and family, I always used humor. I like to keep the audience awake."
Like "Pyongyang," much of "Chronicles" is related to culture shock: the strange grocery stores, the expat culture, the local traditions, the stifling heat and the thick rains of the monsoon season. But DeLisle also has a keen eye for cultural perspective and returns repeatedly to the case of Aung San Suu Kyi, the former Burmese leader currently under detention in Rangoon.
"I tend to describe the routine aspects of my life and mix it with historical events," DeLisle says. "I might talk about taking a walk with my son, but I'm also going to talk about the political situation. I didn't think I'd write about Burma, to be honest," he adds. "And then you start collecting notes, and the inspiration starts kicking in, and pretty soon, you have enough for a book."