Get a Life is a collection of the early Mr. Jean stories where the reader is introduced to the life of the titular character, a laconic, single Parisian male struggling through the usual calamities of life: bachelorhood in his twenties and early thirties and the impending responsibilities of marriage, kids, and deadlines for his publisher. Mr. Jean is a typical everyman - a scholar who fancies himself a man of letters, a nostalgist whose memories carry a weight few can understand, a lover whose heart knows the ...
Get a Life is a collection of the early Mr. Jean stories where the reader is introduced to the life of the titular character, a laconic, single Parisian male struggling through the usual calamities of life: bachelorhood in his twenties and early thirties and the impending responsibilities of marriage, kids, and deadlines for his publisher. Mr. Jean is a typical everyman - a scholar who fancies himself a man of letters, a nostalgist whose memories carry a weight few can understand, a lover whose heart knows the greatest of burdens. Melancholic yet joyful reflections on past loves, favorite authors, marriage, and fatherhood are laid out in a breezy, comic style.
Only a few of French cartoonists Dupuy and Berberian's delightful Monsieur Jean stories have previously appeared in English, but this volume collects translations of the earliest ones, originally published in the mid-'80s. Jean is a smalltime literary figure-a novelist, translator and jazz collector-on the cusp of 30, realizing that life is moving faster than he is. He's got an apartment too cheap to leave, with a landlady he can't stand; his old friends are getting married, having children, casually revealing long-ago betrayals and inflicting their own life disasters on him. He's fine at attracting women, but can't sustain a serious relationship for long. By the end of the book, he's repeatedly playing daddy to other people's babies and recalling the days when the life of an artist and culture-vulture seemed a lot easier. Dupuy and Berberian play Jean's not-quite-midlife crises as whimsy, though, with occasional goofy fantasy sequences in which he imagines himself guarding the castle of his bachelorhood. The book's artwork is breezy, simple and very European (everyone's got gigantic, near-abstract noses, and the landscapes of Paris and Lisbon are lovingly caricatured); its smooth playfulness helps to alleviate the sting of its well-aimed darts toward the moments when the bohemian life begins to curdle. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Oh, to be young, successful and neurotic. For 20 years, French cartoonists Dupuy and Berberian have collaborated on "Mr. Jean," a comic-book series about the romantic and professional ups and downs of a young Parisian novelist. Jean's a moody, thoughtful sort, though his torments are actually pretty modest-a childhood buddy pesters him to help write a business proposal, he'd like to go to a party but can't blow another deadline on a Somerset Maugham translation, the sexy girl he meets at the gym turns out to have a lot more baggage than he'd expected. It's the stuff of good comedy, though, and Dupuy and Berberian get some nice laughs out of these tiny predicaments; a series of two-page gags chronicling Jean's recurring insomnia make great use of (among other things) lusty hippos, a one-night stand and an ill-advised late-night bath. But it'd be unfair to characterize the two as mere gag writers, and the best stories here are broader and more emotionally complex. In "Cathy (Norvegienne Woude)," Jean recalls a botched early relationship derailed by deception and youthful selfishness, and the two artists take care with the details, from the rain-soaked scenes to the way Jean is drawn larger or smaller to match his insecurity. In "Wild Days of Youth," Jean juggles a host of frustrations-his rent just got doubled, an elderly neighbor's tried to kill himself and a friend's left his toddler at his apartment-and the story manages to be an affecting portrait of the cycle of life while staying light on its feet. The art is clean and nicely propulsive; if Dupuy and Berberian were film directors they'd be big on sinuous, graceful tracking shots. And Jean is a perfect character for their style: Justturning 30, he's at a carefree midpoint in life, holding fast to his youth but well aware of the waves of adult responsibility about to crash down on him. A genial and funny snapshot of the Left Bank lifestyle.