Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Anniversary


May '68 isn't the only anniversary being celebrated this spring. It's the 100th anniversary of Les Pieds Nickelés, the bumbling but lovable smalltime criminals who were the flagship product of the early years of what has since become a major component of the French culture industry, la BD. "Comparative comics" is not my field, but I am always struck by the throngs that crowd the BD section of my favorite FNAC. There is a comic subculture in the United States, but it seems to me less mainstream, more furtive and sad, than the robust and unabashed French trade. Having heard the eminent historians David Bell, Ann Blair, and Orest Ranum discourse learnedly on Astérix at a recent French Historical Studies conference, I would not dare say a word about the content of Louis Forton's creation; I'm far too ignorant. But I once saw the Woody Allen film "Small Time Crooks" with a French friend who found it a lot funnier than I did; perhaps he was brought up on LPN. A character in a Wim Wenders film says, "The Yanks have colonized our subconscious." Maybe, but it seems that it was the Yanks who grew up on Superman and Batman who believed their own myths and have repeatedly had to pay the price of their fantasies of invincibility, while readers of Tintin, Astérix, Bécassine, and Les Pieds Nickelés, weaned on human fallibility and finitude, have settled for less lethal ways to amuse themselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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