Sunday, May 28, 2023

L'Autoroute du soleil


L’Autoroute du Soleil, by Baru.

This graphic novel was published in 1995.

The story follows two young adults running from 

People trying to kill them. It’s a buddy road trip movie. The title of the book refers to the main highway that connects the south of France to the Northern part of it. ( not the ONLY road, but it’s a cool name. It translates to “ The Highway of the sun”

At the time, I hadn’t yet read a graphic novel like this.

Black and white, it was long too. Over 400 pages. It felt real.

I had known of Baru’s work for a while by then. He had done a book or a series, I can’t remember called “Quequette Blues” I think it was published in a magazine like A suivre or Pilote. I wasn’t interested in it. I was probably too young then to connect to stories that felt SO MUCH like real life.

But when L’Autoroute du Soleil came out, it felt like I knew the characters in the book.

Not only that, but it felt like this was a story that could’ve really happened.

Put back in the context of the time, most of the stories in graphic novel form I was exposed to were either super hero comics or stuff like Tintin and Asterix( I mean, not JUST that but mostly that). The OTHER type of comic form I would see in stores was adult only stuff.

So when I found L’autoroute du Soleil, it was a shock. It felt like a movie on paper.

Everything about it worked. The graphic nature of the characters, They were not pretty. Not all of them. Some were down right ugly, just like in real life.

People coming in and out of the story. Having an impact then disappearing, like a person you meet on the train and is gone at the next stop.
I grew up in the south of France and when the main characters stop for a while in the South, I thought I could hear the cicadas and feel the heat of long summer days

The staging, editing, the rhythm of the story felt like it was shot with a camera. The story itself was a very urbane, believable story with (almost) believable human reactions. There was just enough “extra” to make you want to read more. The night shots felt moody and real and the sequences where the characters relax on the beach feel breezy, sunny and fun. I wasn’t used to author who were so comfortable in light sequences as well as moody, tense moments. 

It was the beginning of an era where I could see graphic novels as a full art. Not for kids, not for bizarre stories that no one would read or care for, but for very mature, skillfully crafted movies on paper. This book didn’t have color and I didn’t even notice. It was that engrossing.

I re read the book a few weeks ago and I am STILL completely involved in the story.

I feel these stories are more common today.

I find similar real life feelings in some mangas. There are some American Graphic Novel artist that have been going down that road as well and I love it.

Baru has done other amazing books since then.

He did one about a boxer a little later that I find absolutely amazing as well.

I believe he is still active and whenever I get a chance to find some of his work, I’ll read it.

#Baru #L’autoroute du Soleil

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