Saturday, December 20, 2008

A sweet Christmas love story: Francoise Mouly & Art Spiegelman

Christmas is a time for many things, but one of the nice things is that wistful, rose-tinted look back at our lives. To whit; this piece from Book by Francoise Mouly.


(Francoise Mouly & Art Spiegelman.)

It’s the tale of how she met Spiegelman and how they fell in love over comic books:

“There was a time, a long, long time ago, when I dreaded the approach of the holiday season…. I knew that the impending holidays would only serve to remind me that friends and family were an ocean away.

One year, I unexpectedly got a call from one of my acquaintances, the cartoonist Art Spiegelman, who had himself recently moved back to New York. He asked me if I had any plans for Thanksgiving, and I asked in return, “What is Thanksgiving?” We made plans to go to Chinatown for duck dinner that Thursday night… After dinner, he invited me back to his place where he showed me his collection of comics (we have that pick-up line in French, but it’s usually “let me show you my collection of Japanese prints…”)

I trusted my attraction — besides, I knew I also stood a chance to get an invaluable crash course in American culture — and soon I was cozily nestled next to Art on his coach, while he read aloud to me page after page of Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, a strip that ran from 1905 to 1913… It was a stunning experience: how could I not fall in love with this man, and with the medium he so passionately inhabited? I had until then always loved reading, but it was partly because reading isolated me and protected me from others. At that moment, though, I discovered a new hidden dimension: the pleasures of sharing a work you love and that of being read to, all of which must have contributed to making me want to be a publisher, in turn sharing what I love with others.

Nowadays, decades later, I greet the holiday season with eager anticipation: it’s a moment when, in our busy and overbooked lives, our kids and us can be all together, and maybe a moment when we can all listen to one of us read aloud.”

The latest publishing venture she talks about is Toon Books, an excellent series of beautiful children’s graphic novels. Perfect first readers and just as lovely for the older child. And just perfect as bedtime stories, which, I imagine, is precisely what Francoise wanted.


Toon Books at the FPI webstore: Art Spiegelman’s Jack And The Box, Agnes Rosenstiehl’s Silly Lilly, Frank Cammuso & Jay Lynch - Otto’s Orange Day.

(Thanks to Matthew Badham for the link)

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