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CREATOR PROFILE:

EMMANUEL GUIBERT

Biography:

Guibert lives in Paris with his wife and daughter.

Essential Reading:


The Photographer
with Didier Lefèvre and Frédéric Lemercier
First Second Books, 2009

In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union. This graphic novel/photo-journal is a record of one reporter’s arduous and dangerous journey through Afghanistan, accompanying the Doctors Without Borders. Didier Lefèvre’s photography, paired with the art of Emmanuel Guibert, tells the powerful story of a mission undertaken by men and women dedicated to mending the wounds of war.

Angelina Jolie says:
An unflinching and gripping photographic memoir, The Photographer takes you on a breathtaking journey through the best and worst humanity has to offer in times of war. Turning its pages, the reader begins to understand what it means to lose everything as a refugee of war, to cross mountains to help someone you never met, to feel the intense responsibility of being the only one able to capture the last moments of a child’s stolen life. Suddenly Afghanistan, a distant land, a foreign culture, a courageous and resilient people seem closer, more familiar - more human. I love this book.

Paul Gravett says:
Like many press photographers, Didier Lefèvre (1957-2007) takes hundreds more shots than are ever published. On a chance visit to Lefèvre’s home, Guibert was shown box after box of them as the photographer recounted his experiences recording a gruelling mission in 1986 in and out of Afghanistan by Doctors Without Borders to bring health care to those in remote regions, on either side of the conflict. Guibert was determined that this story should reach the public and found a way, with designer and colourist Frédéric Lemercier, to integrate the black-and-white photos within his comics… Now, more people can know about this ongoing tragedy through this timely, deeply humane chronicle, made still more poignant by the fact that after the assassination of five Doctors Without Borders aid workers in 2004, all of its medical programmes in Afghanistan have been closed.



Alan’s War
First Second Books, 2008

When Alan Cope joined the army and went off to fight in World War II, he had no idea what he was getting into. This graphic memoir is the story of his life during wartime, a story told with poignant intimacy and matchless artistry. Across a generation, a deep friendship blossomed between Alan Cope and Emmanuel Guibert. From it, Alan’s War was born - a graphic novel that is a deeply personal and moving experience, straight from the heart of the Greatest Generation - a unique piece of WWII literature and a ground-breaking graphic memoir.

Paul Gravett says:
Guibert illuminates in tender outlines and lustrous washes the World War Two reminiscences of an American G.I., Alan Cope, whom he first met in 1994 when Alan was 69 and living with his wife on a small island off the French Atlantic Coast. Though nearly 40 years his junior, Guibert struck up an intense friendship and spontaneous collaboration with this vivid raconteur, recording hours of his candid stories in his distinct foreign French. Over the next five years, Cope quickly grew to trust Guibert’s visualisations, leaving him free to picture his life as he imagined it from the veteran’s tapes, letters, phone calls and sketches. Across forty chapters, they offer no gung-ho glories of combat but pinpoint incidents of banality, incompetence, humour and horror, and above all Cope’s humanity and quest for meaning. After seriously contemplating the priesthood, his growing disenchantment with religion and shallow consumerism led to him quitting America in 1948, never to return. Late in life, he realised, “I hadn’t lived the life of myself. I had lived the life of the person others had wanted me to be… And that person had never existed.” After his death in 1999, Guibert found a way to reconnect to Cope by visiting friends and locations in America and Germany and through a photo album he left to him, reproduced at the back of the book. The reader cannot fail to respond to their friendship as it endures through this remarkable graphic biography.

Emmanuel Guibert Says:
Ours wasn’t the work of historians. Alan’s War is the product of the meeting of an elderly man, who had a gift for telling his life story, and a young man, who spontaneously felt compelled to write and draw it. If Alan hadn’t lived through that war, I’m convinced I would still have wanted to create books with him. In fact, I intend to publish one on his childhood in California, which was probably the most intimate and beautiful part of what he confided to me. It was mostly the storyteller in him that I was drawn to - his personality, his style, his voice, and his astounding memory.

 

Bibliography:

Guibert in English
The Photographer (2009)
Alan’s War (2008)
The Professor’s Daughter (2007) with Joann Sfar
Sardine Vol 1-6 (2006-2008) with Joann Sfar

Short Story:
Shin.Ichi in Japan: As Viewed By 17 Creators (2005)

Interviews:
The Comics Journal #297

Links:

Online Resources:
Paul Gravett’s Articles
Le Photographe
Doctors Without Borders

Publishers:
Dupuis
Editions de l’An 2
First Second Books
MacMillan