The library is a great place for readers to discover comics, and it’s a great place for comics readers to check out things that they want to try without spending their hard-earned cash. I’m looking at comics that I find in the New York Public Library system.
French cartoonists Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian have spent many, many years chronicling the adventures of Monsieur Jean, a thirty-ish year old writer coping with bachelorhood, mooching friend and past-tense deadlines. Get a Life is a hardcover collection of the earliest Monsieur Jean comics translated into English by Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly.
It’s easy to see why Monsieur Jean has been a long-running favorite comic in France. Dupuy and Berberian have a stunning collaboration, full of understated life observations and wry, sardonic humor. Jean’s exotic internal life, filled with castles and dreams of very angry felines, contrasts the simple day-to-day of his waking mind, adding silliness and liveliness, but it’s Jean’s cabal of oddball friends, would-be girlfriends, parents and neighbors that manage to just about remind you of people you’ve met. It’s an impressive performance that showcases the everyday victories and defeats of a fairly ordinary guy.
If readers come across Get a Life at their local library, I’d encourage them to check it out. It may not be a favorite of all readers, but everybody will appreciate the quality of the craft involved, and I suspect that most will identify with many of Monsier’s Jean’s foibles during the course of his battles to keep up at work and in life.