Even though it’s no longer the indespensible comics mag it used to be in the 1960′s, and even though it doesn’t seem to appear on a regular schedule anymore, Pilote Magazine still lives on as a series of specials, or hors-séries as the French call it. You could say that publisher Dargaud is still trying to cash in on the venerable name, but that would be doing an injustice to the quality of the actual issues.
This summer’s hors-série is completely devoted to the relationship between comics and that bigger brother of popular culture, movies. It contains a number of short essays from professionals in both fields, interviews with creators who have been active as cartoonists and/or filmmakers, and overviews on how comics and movies relate to one another in different parts of the world. A number of portfolios about film-related comic art (posters by Floc’h, or character studies by Enki Bilal) make sure it’s not all boring text. What really makes this issue worth the money, however, are the contributions by the cartoonists themselves. It would seem that the magazine’s editors have given a number of the best comics professionals of the country (120 in total) free rein, with the sole constraint being that it should be about film.
Ex-lauréate in Angoulème, Blutch, kicks off with a four-page treatise on the nature of film, presented as a dialogue between a grumpy old theorist and a dancing young girl. Pierre Christin and JC Mézieres tell the story of how they tried to get the film, Hard to be a God, realised, which is not the success story you would expect (and, indeed, they conclude that they probably should have talked about Bilal’s Bunker Palace Hotel or Besson’s Fifth Element, both of which they worked on, and which did turn out to be a success). Jean Giraud reflects on the possibilities of modern technology (CGI ! 3D ! ) for classic films, while Hervé Bourhis makes a case for the importance of the moustache in films. Amusante !
It is really an issue to last a summer holiday. And I haven’t even talked about strips by R. Crumb, Bastien Vives, Charles Berbérian, or Florence Cestac (to name but a few, at the risk of forgetting one or two essential contributions). And it’s a good way to practice your French while keeping yourself occupied in a culturally correct fashion (instead of just roasting yourself on the beach).
Pilote – La BD, Nouvelle Star du 7e Art is available in all good magazine and book stores in France (and other French-speaking parts of the world) for a mere 7,90 EUR. Get yourself a penpal, make the trip, or get yourself a copy online. And while you’re at it, why not try to get a copy of that other venerable French comics magazine, L’Echo Des Savannes, which celebrates summer with a bumper special full of comics.