This summer, Fantagraphics will launch an ongoing series of hardcover books presenting the works of the legendary French cartoonist Jacques Tardi.
The first two releases will be West Coast Blues (Le petit bleu de la Côte Ouest), a hard-boiled crime thriller adapted by Tardi from the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, and You Are Here (Ici même), a satirical, surreal story written for Tardi by Barbarella creator Jean- Claude Forest that many consider one of the first true French graphic novels. Both will be released simultaneously in August, in what series editor Kim Thompson calls a “double-pronged shock-and-awe assault on the American readership, to immediately show off Tardi’s versatility.”
Planned for Spring 2010 is the graphic album World War I-theme It Was the War of the Trenches, chapters of which have previously appeared in RAW and Drawn and Quarterly magazines during the 1980s and 1990s.
“Tardi has always been one of my top favorite European cartoonists,” said Thompson, who will also be translating the books. “I’ve wanted to do this for many years — pretty much as long as we’ve been publishing — and I think the time is ripe. In today’s graphic-novel world, the audience is finally ready for Tardi.”
Tardi’s best known creation is the saturnine early-20th Century heroine Adèle Blanc-Sec, the first two of whose nine (to date) adventures were released by Dark Horse and NBM in the early 1980s. (A series of Adèle Blanc-Sec movies is currently being prepared by French filmmaker and comics buff Luc Besson.) American readers may also remember Tardi’s “Nestor Burma” stories (based upon stories by French crime writer Leo Malet), the first of which was serialized in the Fantagraphics anthology Graphic Story Monthly in the 1980s, and the second of which was released as a graphic album by iBooks two decades later — or Tardi’s multiple appearances in RAW magazine. All of these, as well as NBM’s Roach Killer and the hardboiled detective story Griffu (written by Manchette especially for Tardi) which appeared in the Fantagraphics anthology Pictopia, have been out of print for years.
Tardi has won every French cartooning award in existence including the Grand Prize of Angoulême, and has created over 30 graphic novels in a wide variety of genres. He continues to produce work to this day at a pace that puts his contemporaries to shame, including last year’s World War I story Putain de guerre, 2006’s satirical thriller Le Secret de l’étrangleur, and the epic 300-page Le Cri du peuple, set in 1871’s Paris Commune. He is currently working on two new projects, including another World War I volume and an adaptation of a third Manchette-written crime thriller. He lives in Paris with his wife and his cats.