Why Sartre today?

SARTRE

This graphic novel about Sartre’s life is being published in the US by NBM, in a pessimistic era and in a global political context that, in short, can be described as worrying and freedom-destroying. “The story of a life is the story of a failure”. Sartre was amused by his own irony in writing that we are constantly running after that which makes us incoherent, dissatisfied, incomplete beings: desire.

 

However Sartre and his existentialism were not pessimistic. It was important to me to show his full personality in this graphic novel. His entire life was crossed by desires; as incoherent and misunderstood as they might be by his contemporaries as well as the reader of today. These days I appreciate more his partner Simone de Beauvoir and her work as a feminist, but at that time I wanted to continue to develop my thoughts and writings on him.

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In 2011 at 23 years old, I graduated in Contemporary Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the school where Sartre also studied. This field of study “Contemporary Philosophy” inncludes philosophy which followed the great revolutions in thinking by Nietzsche, Marx and Freud, to today. My thesis I defended was on Sartre’s attraction to psychoanalysis. This attraction is a story of love and hate; as a thinker of his time, Sartre wanted to go deeper into the Freud-Marxist legacy. He was extremely interested in one of the most important revolutions in the XIXth century. He was excited and afraid of the idea that the human psyche comes with a dark zone called “the unconscious”, and we finally acquired the tools to explore it, like a new language or a forgotten Atlantis.

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Sartre was deeply attracted by this perspective, only it was impossible for him to admit that this unconscious is ruling us, deciding things for us, driving us with dreams and Freudian slips. I wanted to look at the reason why. Sartre actually strongly believed that human beings are ALWAYS free and that they only decide for themselves, alone. This counteraction between the two concepts of unconscious and freedom haunted him his whole life. He never underwent psychoanalysis himself but instead wrote several books about artists and writers to vicariously experience the analysis process. These writings he poetically called “existential psychoanalysis”. He published texts and essays about Baudelaire (Baudelaire), Jean Genet (Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr), Tintoretto (The Sequestered of Venice), Gustave Flaubert (The Family Idiot)… and himself (The Words).

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We could criticize him for being so stubborn to the point of writing an unreadable 3000 pages on Flaubert to “psychoanalyze” him and therefore completely avoid the main concept of psychoanalysis. Ironically, he came to the same conclusion as Freud; a psychoanalysis is endless (even if not useless). Maybe he pursued the question of the unconsciousness not out of intellectual curiosity but fear. Sartre was approaching death at the time of the writing of this colossal book and was using many destructive drugs. It was also the time when he missed the ’68 revolution in Paris and was accused by the youth of being a bourgeois writer; an intellectual who stayed in his comfy office writing on lofty issues while the streets were on fire.

 

As he was emphatically defending freedom he did indeed forget his privileged social milieu (born in the tony Saint-Germain-des-Prés, he received the best education possible). How then, could he dare to say that violence can be justified, if its noble aim is to defend freedom? Or that a slave somehow always has a choice, even if the only one way of escaping is in thought?

 

This graphic novel definitely does not solve these complex philosophical-political problems. My aim was to make them visible by showing the man behind these strong ideas and inconsistencies. “The little man” as his “amour nécessaire”, Simone de Beauvoir, called him affectionately. He was a stubborn man who loved life and people. An Epicurean who loved to travel and party. A radical artist who only used drugs for philosophy and not for literature, as literature had to stay “pure”.

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While criticizing him, we could also give him credit where credit is due. As a young writer, I admit that I was charmed by his obsession for freedom, his relationship with Simone de Beauvoir and their many famous friends. In Sartre, I wanted to show the sexy and sometimes dirty back-stages, distilling anecdotes that are least well-known about him and Simone de Beauvoir. Also to show that it is not completely hopeless to cling to the defense of all kinds of freedoms, even at a time when the world seems to draw the outlines of an existential prison.

See the new Sartre book and stay tuned for artist Anais Depommier’s tour starting next week!

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Meet Vincente Segrelles, Creator of ‘The Mercenary’

NBM Graphic Novels will be reprinting all 14 volumes of Vincente Segrelles groundbreaking graphic novel series The Mercenary in updated, remastered volumes.

In anticipation of this exciting release, we’re previewing the supplementary pages that will be included in the back of every volume.

* * * * *

In them I will explain how and why I started The Mercenary, my way of working, anecdotes, and interesting tidbits about the way that I write comics and especially the direct relationship between the issues and my passions. I have illustrated each supplement with many samples my work, and everything that you will see, from the illustrations to the models and sculptures, was done by me.

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The Cult of The Sacred Fire was one of my first introductions to fully painted graphic novels and to this day holds up against the best of them. Segrelles inspired generations to push the art further with this breakthrough book and 40 years later, its looking better than ever. A must-have for any illustrator or storyteller.”

– Jimmy Palmiotti, writer of Harley Quinn; creator of Painkiller Jane

Now Read THIS!

The stellar reviews keep coming in for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN! Win Wiacek, writing from the UK on his NOW READ THIS blog, has proclaimed the book as a…

“thoughtful and totally immersive glimpse of a life both remarkable and inescapably pedestrian:a reflection on common humanity and day-to-day existence with all the lethal pitfalls they conceal and joys they promise.”

Wiacek also says adds that PRIDE is a “seductively sedate, powerfully evocative and poignantly human-scaled fable of a guy with no hope and the odds stacked against him from the get-go…”

To close out the piece, Win mention this as a great comic to hand to even a non-comics-fan, and a musical pairing suggestion was made – a recommendation to spin Bob Seger’s “Mainstreet” while reading the book. I’ll have to try that myself.

I’d also add another musical pairing – “Tender Years” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, from the cult hit movie soundtrack Eddie & The Cruisers. There’s just the right amount of passion and nostalgia in that song to go along with Andrew’s story. Readers with a keen eye for detail will also notice Eddie Wilson’s iconic cut-off black shirt is the same one worn by Andrew Peters.

To read the review in full, go here.

For more about PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, including how to order, go to NBM Graphic Novels.

Thanks for reading!

-T.J.

 

 

 

 

PRIDE lives!

Copies of Pride Of The Decent Man are beginning to arrive in the hands of readers. This is feels like the end of something, but also the beginning of another stage – promotion!

It’s actually been two years (!) since sending off the initial short proposal for the book, and now it’s done, real, and ready to be (hopefully) enjoyed by the public.

I’ll be making my first two appearances in support of PRIDE soon at the Small Press Expo in Maryland and the Brooklyn Book Festival in NYC. Details to come very soon!

I’m also posting a new tour poster image I’ve got with some other dates as well. More are being added soon.

Pride Of The Decent Man is now available through many fine booksellers.

For more info, go here.

Thanks again – and thanks for reading.

T.J.

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The Reviews Are In!

Library Journal has given Pride Of The Decent Man a fantastic advance review on their site, calling it;

“A complex story told in a thoughtful, moving manner,” and “Highly recommended for anyone trying to be a better, decent person.”

They also describe the “Beautiful if often sad color drawings and spare dialogue” that fill the volume.

This review means a great deal, particularly because of its association with libraries, which can easily open up a new world of graphic novels to younger and new readers.

For those who aren’t aware of Library Journal, their site describes itself as “the most trusted and respected publication for the library community. Built on more than a century of quality journalism and reviews.”

Read the full review here.

To learn more about Pride Of The Decent Man, including how to order your own copy, go here.

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We’ve Got It Covered

When working on the interior pages of Pride Of The Decent Man, I’d take a day or two and work on potential covers for the book. Here are a few alternates and rejected version of the book cover for PRIDE. ( you can click the images to see them at a larger size ). It’s always a nice change of pace to concentrate on single image after working on sequential pages for so long. I’d say some were more successful than others. There were elements taken from a few of these that made it onto the final design. There are things I like about each one, and definitely some things I could’ve done better. It’s a process, like anything else. It’s not wasted time, because in the back of my mind, I think – “this could end up being a good cover for a foreign translated edition!” If that were to happen, though, I’d end up wanting to redraw it anyway.

To find out more about Pride Of The Decent Man, including ordering info, go here.

Thanks for reading!

T.J.

On Lettering And Fonts.

When I was first putting together the initial proposal for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, I thought about the lettering quite a bit. I hadn’t hand lettered a comic in quite a while ( my old lettering instructor Mike Chen at Kubert School is rolling his eyes ), and working digitally as I have been for 9+ years, I’ve seen what computer fonts work best with my particular style of artwork. Fonts that’ve worked for me in the past wouldn’t necessarily look best with this new story. It’s quieter, more contemplative than my previous books, and with that should come an appropriate font ( or fonts ).

I tried a few favorites from ComiCraft and Blambot I’d used over the years, but they didn’t look quite right for this project. They seemed to modern, too dynamic. I half-remembered one I’d used while working on an educational comic for UC Berkeley years ago. It was a font based on the hand lettering of Danish, NYC-based cartoonist Henrik Rehr, and designed by Johan Brandstedt. Henrik is a fantastic and prolific cartoonist, and his lettering is very organic and subtle on his many projects.

I thought it would work for the dialogue PRIDE, and I think it does! It’s also fairly close to a better version of my own lettering, if I were patient enough to try. Of course, it’s been years of not using that particular muscle. Luckily in this day and age, it’s very easy to reach out to fellow creators through social media or email, so I did just that. I asked permission to use the lettering font in my book and he agreed. I call that pretty lucky.

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For the captions from Andrew’s notebooks, I found a similarly organic-looking font designed by Font Diner that looks like someone’s handwriting. They also enthusiastically gave permission, as Henrik had, and I think what came out in the end works in support of the storytelling.

So please, seek out the work of Henrik Rehr as well as Font Diner if you can and support them. They’ve been good to me, and I can’t thank them enough.

For more information, including how to order, and preview pages for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, go here!

Thanks again for reading.

T.J.