Saturday, June 10, 2023

Jacque Tardi

 Jacque Tardi

Growing up in France( mostly), Art was everywhere. I was interested in Graphic novels so I looked at everything I could. Not always understanding what I was looking at. Not always realizing the impact it had on me. Some of the books  I liked a lot have left very little mark on me.

Other books made a huge impact on me but it is only as an adult that I realized how much.

The work of Jacque Tardi is this second kind.

I would see his take on Nestor Burma in the pages of “A Suivre” and never read them.

It was gray. Dark, there was an inherent sadness seeping through the pages. Something about a world where people got the short end of the stick and knew about it

Tardi captured an essence of what French Life was like, away from the glamour of the Rivera or the lights of the Champs Elyse. This was NOT Louis De Funes.

It was all about small streets, rainy weather, cheap motels, the other side of the tracks. Literally!

The number of images depicting industrial warehouse by train tracks,  around the Paris area are innumerable in my mind’s eye.

I never EVER understood the stories. I don’t think my 12 year old brain was experienced enough to relate to the seemingly depressed mood permeating this world, and why people did what they did because they always seemed sad in the end

 No matter what the outcome was.


The artwork!!!  It was palpable. The smell of rain, the feeling of long, cold winter Sunday afternoons in a city. The mood of the nights, the smell of alcohol and cigarettes( which every French kid knew since it was EVERYWHERE , the smell of hard wood floor and worn out leather. The scope of the relationships. So human you could see it on the page.

The drawings were simple, clear. They were deliberate. 

I didn’t find them pretty, but it was clear they were MEANT to be this way.  They WROTE the feelings.

This is something I LOVED about Tardi's work. he didn't seem to care if he made pretty drawings or not. They just needed to say something.

I collected everything I could find of his and barely read any. I would make my own trips in his world. It was that powerful.

Much later, Tardi started doing books on World War 1. Memories of his father who had served. 

The French perspective paralleled with the German perspective. Just like his Burma days, there was nothing pretty about it. It was gruesome, cold, and it felt real.

The people spoke the way people speak in the street. They looked like real people, they drank, lived and die without pizzaz. 

I find his later work to be some of his stronger works. 

His art is visual writing. 

It is not for everyone, I understand this. It is probably an acquired taste I didn’t ask for, but I love seeing his work and try to read/watch everything he comes out with.

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