Cartoon tradition

It is the tradition for my Christmas vacations to read and watch lots of cartoons. Sometimes I read again the complete collection of Astérix or of Tintin. And, at this time of the year, there’s plenty of cartoon on TV. This year, since I am already reading plenty of manga, I decided to go in the documentary way. I’ve found and watched two interesting documentaries about famous cartoon artists (and I read a book of each for good mesure).

Who are you, Charlie Brown?

WhoAreYouCharlieBrown-posterThis documentary, narrated by Lupita Nyong’o, is covering three subjects. First, it brings us a new animated story where Charlie Brown agonize on the fact that he must write an essay about himself for school and he goes on a quest of self-discovery. Also, with the help of old interviews with Charles M Schulz (aka “Sparky”) and some of his close friends and family members we learn about who was the creator of Peanuts and about the genesis of the comics. Finally, fans, actors and other creators discuss the influence the comics had on them and on the global culture. 

The documentary is interesting and also very entertaining, but also a little short and somewhat superficial. We see some early drawings of the Peanuts’ gang (a comic strip called Lil’ Folks) but it never mentions his other comic series, like Young Pillars (which I commented in 2015) or It’s Only a Game. It also doesn’t mention the fact that Schulz’ house was burned down during the Santa Rosa’s fire in October 2017. Fortunately, the nearby Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, where the original illustrations are stored, was spared.  Nevertheless, this documentary is a great way to celebrate the cultural icon that Charlie Brown is and introduce him to a new generation of comic readers.

Who are you, Charlie Brown? : USA, 2021, 54 min.; Dir.: Michael Bonfiglio; Scr.: Michael Bonfiglio & Marcella Steingart; Ed.: Tim K. Smith; Music: Jeff Morrow; Rated PG. It has received a score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (91% from the audience) and 7.2/10 on IMDb. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AppleGoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

NiceShotSnoopy-covOf course, after viewing this documentary I was feeling like reading some old Charlie Brown comics. I chose a short one and got lost in nostalgia. When I was a kid, having outgrown the school library, I was making regular trips to one of the city’s libraries to borrow Peanuts’ compilations (the library was located on top of an old fire-station and it reeked of gaz and engine’ oil — for years after that the idea of a library was evoking in me a mix of awe and nauseous feelings!)

This book offers a selection of cartoons from the compilation The Way of the fussbudget is not easy, vol. III. Part of the Peanuts Coronet collection (#79), it was meant to provide a shorter and more affordable sampling of the Peanuts’ world. It present a single four-panel strip per page. The volume doesn’t have a particular thematic and I don’t know if the strips are in chronological order. It is simply a variety of stories involving all characters (Snoopy and Woodstock, Linus and Lucy, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Schroeder, Pig-Pen, Spike, and, of course, Sally and Charlie Brown). It is a light reading that provides mindless vintage entertainment.

NiceShotSnoopy-p024-025

Page 24-25

Nice shot, Snoopy!, by Charles M Schulz. New York: Fawcett Crest (Ballantine Books/Random House), May 1988. 128 pages, 4.25 x 7 in., $US 2.95 / $C 3.95, ISBN 0-449-21404-4. For readership of all ages. stars-3-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

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© 1983, 1984 by United Feature Syndicate, Inc

Capsules

Dear Mr. Watterson

DearMrWatterson-posterThis is an older documentary but I just discovered it. It explores the phenomenon that is the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, interview lots of people (fans, actor Seth Green, editor Lee Salem and other artists) who pay tribute to its popularity and talk about how it influenced them and the global culture. It also talks a little about its creator, Bill Watterson, who NEVER appears in the documentary (apparently he is a very shy and private person). 

It is a very interesting documentary and it reminded me of all the reasons why Calvin and Hobbes was my favourite comic strip. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t learn more about its creator (although I can understand why someone who’s such a purist about his art would shy away fame and a fortune in licensing). However, the documentary also talk about the cartoon world in general and, if I couldn’t see Mr. Watterson, I could hear from many of the artists who created other strips that I like a lot too: Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Jan Eliot (Stone Soup), Bill Amend (FoxTrot), Wiley Miller (Non Sequitur), Dan Piraro (Bizarro), etc. It was definitively worth watching.

Dear Mr. Watterson : USA, 2013, 89 min.; Dir.: Joel Allen Schroeder; Phot.: Andrew Waruszewski; Ed.: Joel Allen Schroeder; Music: Mike Boggs; Prod.: Chris Browne & Matt McUsic; Rated PG. It has received a score of 62% on Rotten Tomatoes (51% from the audience), 54% on Metacritic and 6.4/10 on IMDb. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ Apple TVGoogleIMDbOfficialPrime VideoWikipedia ]

EssentialCalvinAndHobbes-covAgain, watching this documentary made me want to read the comic again. I have a little less than a dozen compilations and I chose to read the one that I thought would be the most representative: The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, which includes all strips from the first two compilations (Calvin and Hobbes and Something Under the Bed Is Drooling). In this strip we enviously follow the (mis)adventures of an over-imaginative boy with his pet (stuffed?) tiger. It is superbly drawn in a simple, clean but descriptive style. The humour is brilliant. It is both entertaining and full of meaning. A must read.

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. Kansas City: Andrews & McMeel (Universal Press Syndicate), March 1989. 256 pages, 8.5 x 10.7 in., $US $18.99 / $C 37.99, ISBN 0-8362-1805-1. For teenage readership (12+). stars-4-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

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© 1988 by Universal Press Syndicate.

Capsules

 

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Replica (2)

I recently talked about ancient book replicas, but this time I would like to discuss museum replicas…

For fun my sister gave me for Christmas a key-chain made with a roman coin replica that she purchased when she visited the “Pompeii: The Immortal City” exhibit at the Quebec City Museum of Civilisation.

It is reproducing a dupondius of Nero which shows on the obverse the radiated head of the emperor, right, with the latin inscription NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P (the last part is not very clear). The reverse illustrates a Roma helmeted and cuirrased, seated left, holding a winged victory in her right hand, and resting on Parazonium with a shield behind (although those details are not very clear either), with a ROMA in exergue and a S C on each side of the field. The original coin was struck in Rome in 65 CE (Sources: RIC 293, CoinArchives, Numismatics).

It is a nice reproduction, probably molded. It is engraved on both side “WRL” to clearly indicate that it is a reproduction. It comes with a small label saying “Roman Coin key-ring” that also tells us “WRL” stands for Westair Reproduction Ltd (MCMLXXII). It lists a website, Westair-reproductions.com, but this site is down because of COVID (they got a virus?) and is being blocked by Norton Life Lock. However, I found another website, westair.co.uk, dedicated for trade customers (whatever that means). It tells us that they are a UK company specialized in “supplying historical reproductions to Historic Houses, Castles and Museums not only in the UK but also to over 36 other countries around the world.”

There are one-hundred and thirty item listed in their roman section. They are the usual trinkets that you would find in a museum gift shop. They have a catalog available in PDF format. All stuff of little interest… The coin alone (without the key chain) is listed on their website and it come in pack of one-hundred (No price listed, order code RCDUPN). It is also listed with the key-chain (pack of 10, no price, order code RCKR).

There’s a lot of companies offering such replicas and often of much better quality:

One thing I am really looking for (a future birthday gift maybe?) is a fairly sized bust of the emperor Lucius Verus. It’s quite a minor emperor and yet there are a lot of possibilities on the market:

Etsy

eBay: Lucius Verus marble bust

1st Dibs: Lucius Verus bust (if you want something really expensive)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any reproduction with Verus in armor (Hermitage, Prado, Uffizi) or wearing a nice toga

Of course, the cheaper option is to find a 3D scan file of the object you want and print it yourself at a 3D print shop (some libraries offer that service, like the Benny Fab Lab). There is such a thing even for Verus:

Some places even take custom orders (like a bust of yourself!). If you like art but cannot afford the real thing this is definitely an option to consider. Now you know…

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Blue Period Vol. 1-3

BluePeriod-1-covVol. 1

Yatora est un lycéen studieux à qui tout réussit. Pourtant, il ressent depuis toujours une impression de vide en lui. Jusqu’au jour où, par hasard, il tombe sur un tableau qui le subjugue littéralement… Très vite, Yatora réalise que peindre est le seul moyen de faire passer ses émotions et de se révéler. Cet événement le pousse à se livrer corps et âme à la peinture pour tenter le concours d’entrée de la plus sélective des écoles de Beaux-arts !

[Texte du site de l’éditeur et de la couverture arrière]

Blue period vol. 1, par Tsubasa Yamaguchi. Vanves: Pika (Coll. Seinen), janvier 2021. 228 pages, 13 x 18 cm, 7 € 50 / $C 16.99, ISBN 9782811645380, Pour lectorat adolescent (12+). stars-4-0

BluePeriod-2-covVol. 2

Yatora avait décidé de poursuivre des études prestigieuses pour répondre aux exigences de son entourage. Mais pour assouvir la frénésie dévorante du désir qu’il ressent en dessinant, il vise d’intégrer la prestigieuse université des Arts de Tokyo. Est-il prêt à sortir de sa zone de confort, à se confronter au regard des autres, à des talents accablants et, surtout, à surmonter sa peur d’échouer ?

[Texte du site de l’éditeur et de la couverture arrière]

Blue period vol. 2, par Tsubasa Yamaguchi. Vanves: Pika (Coll. Seinen), mars 2021. 192 pages, 13 x 18 cm, 7 € 50 / $C 16.99, ISBN 9782811660284, Pour lectorat adolescent (12+). stars-4-0

BluePeriod-3-covVol. 3

“À deux mois des concours d’admission, le niveau monte, et Yatora se sent bloqué par son manque d’expérience. Heureusement, Mme Saeki, sa professeure du club d’Arts plastiques, Mme Ooba, qui le suit en cours de prépa, et Mori sont là pour le soutenir et lui ouvrir les yeux. Galvanisé, le jeune lycéen se lance alors dans la réalisation d’une toile aussi grande que celle que Mori avait utilisée pour son tableau des anges. Sa rage de peindre aura-t-elle raison de l’entreprise colossale dans laquelle il s’est lancé ?

[Texte du site de l’éditeur et de la couverture arrière]

Blue period vol. 3, par Tsubasa Yamaguchi. Vanves: Pika (Coll. Seinen), mai 2021. 192 pages, 13 x 18 cm, 7 € 50 / $C 16.99, ISBN 9782811660970, Pour lectorat adolescent (12+). stars-3-0

(Attention, lire l’avertissement de possible divulgacheurs)

Blue period (ブルーピリオド / Burū Piriodo) est un manga Seinen sur la peinture écrit et illustré par Tsubasa Yamaguchi qui est sérialisé depuis juin 2017 dans Monthly Afternoon et a été compilé jusqu’à maintenant en onze volumes chez Kōdansha. La version anglaise est publiée aux USA par Kodansha (cinq volumes de disponible, le sixième sortira en février 2022) et la version française est disponible chez Pika (six volumes de paru en France et le septième sortira en janvier 2022). Il a remporté plusieurs prix en 2020 (le Manga Taishō et le Kōdansha manga shō; nominé aussi pour le Tezuka Osamu bunka shō) et a été adapté en une série télévisée d’animation en 2021 (dix épisodes animé par le studio Seven Arcs sous la direction de Koji Masunari et Katsuya Asano, sur un scénario de Reiko Yoshida; diffusée sur MBS, TBS, AT-X et sur Netflix).

Yatora Yaguchi est un peu voyou mais il travaille fort et réussi très bien en classe. Toutefois, son existence le laisse insensible, du moins jusqu’à ce qu’il se retrouve par hasard au club d’art et qu’une toile peinte par une collègue étudiante le bouleverse. Fasciné par le monde de l’art, il découvre qu’il peut dessiner et ainsi exprimer des émotions ou des idées qui échappent à la parole. Il se joint donc au club. Il compense son manque de talent par un excès de pratique et décide qu’il visera les Beaux-Arts pour le collège (mais publique car ses parents ne peuvent pas payer pour une université privée). Pour se préparer pour le concours d’admission il suit des cours du soir. Le récit se tisse autour de son évolution artistique, de ses relations avec ses copains voyous d’une part et ses collègues de classe d’art d’autre part — dont certains sont plutôt colorés: la talentueuse Mori, le travesti Ryûji ou le solitaire Yotasuke. 

J’aime bien les mangas écrit par des femmes. En général, on y retrouve une plus grande sensibilité et les sujets sont souvent plus intéressants. Tsubasa Yamaguchi n’est pas très connue car elle n’a publié que quatre titres et le seul autre à être traduit est She and her cat (彼女と彼女の猫 / Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko; sérialisé entre février et mai 2016 dans Monthly Afternoon, compilé en un seul volume et traduit en anglais chez Kodansha) qui adapte en manga le court métrage noir & blanc d’animation de Makoto Shinkai. Je trouve son style de dessin plutôt moyen (les visages des personnages sont parfois un peu bizarres) mais j’adore le fait qu’elle utilise des tableaux existants pour illustrer les travaux des personnages (réalisé par des assistants ou des collègues artistes). Le récit, quant à lui, est excellent et nous fait peu à peu découvrir le monde de l’art. Dans l’ensemble c’est un très bon manga qui nous offre une lecture agréable et mérite un coup d’oeil.

J’ai aussi visionné l’adaptation animé et j’ai trouvé cela excellent. L’animation exprime très bien le contenu du manga. Si vous avez Netflix et êtes un peu paresseux, vous pourriez simplement vous en tenir à visionner l’anime.

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

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© 2017-2018 Tsubasa Yamaguchi.

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