Chronicling the essential Parisian everyman, M. Jean, Get A Life engages with old school Francophone élan, comical, wise, romantic, profoundly humanist, gently erotic and wryly philosophical, ultimately demonstrating comics can be moving as well as amusing.
Complex romances and dysfunctional friendships resonate with depth and realism throughout the stories. M. Jean runs into an old flame and her husband at a gallery, arousing complicated feelings as he remembers the past and ponders what the present might be had they remained together.
The book is primarily comical. An extended episode recounting his Homeric proclivity for procrastination and another cataloguing every potential disaster of a simple shopping trip lean toward the slapstick, but with the rewards of a shaded and endearing characterisation we can all relate to.
Dupuy and Berberian individualise characters and evoke their emotions with simple shapes and lines that convince us they are real people. Locations like the galleries, homes, cafes, theatres and streets of Paris appear in deceptively detailed drawings that are more representative than descriptive.
Fully satisfied with the sophistication and artistry of Get A Life, I found myself disappointed by their second release, Maybe Later. This book purports to be an experimental work, a journal concerned with the real life angst of the co-authors both in and out of the comics world. In the end I am not willing to give up so much of what I liked best in Get A Life, including the intricate storytelling and beautiful art.
I offer this review in the hope of building readership for Dupuy and Berberian, but I will leave that task to Get A Life and leave Maybe Later to hardcore fans to explore the lives of these worthy creators. (Lloyd Chesley)
by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian, $24.95, 144 pgs, and Maybe Later by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian, $22.95, 136 pgs, both from Drawn and Quarterly, P.O. Box 48056, Montreal, QC, H2V 4S8, drawnandquarterly.com