Postcards from Paris: { The Bande Dessinée Band-Wagon }

Every French home that I enter I notice a collection of hard-bound comic books. The owners could be lawyers or architects or painters or other types of business men or women or cool bo-bos in their Isabel Marant and A.P.C attire. Some of them are single, many of them married to spouses who are equally interested in comics, called bande dessinée in French. The resounding stereotype of nerdy comic book readers such as Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons doesn’t ring true to the characteristics of a French comic book reader. That is because every one reads bande dessinée.
I have friends back home who enjoy reading comics. They are comfortable with the category they place themselves in and carry along with them the notion that it’s a little bit dorky. However, as far as I can tell, in France there is no shame. The category of bande dessinée readers and non-bande dessinée readers is similar to the category of smokers and non-smokers in France. The non-smokers don’t really have a negative opinion towards the smokers because most everyone smokes. This seems the same for comic book readers, on a more exaggerated comparison. Ultimately, the nerdy introverted stereotype doesn’t exist.
So recently while I was babysitting, the cool in-the-know architect mother asked me if I had read Albert Camus’ L’étranger. I had in fact, but ‘have you read the bande dessinée version?’
There was no prejudice coming from me on behalf reading a comic as an adult, but I wasn’t completely convinced that it would be something I’d enthusiastically participate in, especially one based on a classic novel. I loved the idea of Tintin, and all of his international adventures. I loved the artistic approach to the entire comic book idea, but reading a comic after reading the novel…. Was is like watching a movie after reading the book, an experience either to be a disappointment or a bland feeling of ‘eh’?
I was hesitant, but the
children were tucked in bed sleeping deeply and the evening promised to be long. This was my moment to hop on the bande-dessinée band wagon, undisturbed and devoted to each little beautifully illustrated rectangle, completely in-tune with the white dialogue bubbles.
My first comic book experience as an adult, as nerdy as it sounds was a perfect delight.

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