Everything is Better With You Than Without You : Manu Larcenet – “Ordinary Victories”

ABOVE: Extraordinary

Actually, the title of Manu Larcenet’s powerful graphic series is “Le Combat Ordinaire” (“The Ordinary Combat”) which is more about struggle than the falsely optimistic name it has gained in the English translation, (“Ordinary Victories.”) By any name, this is a very moving work, sad, funny, youthful and wise. It won the 2004 Angouleme Prize for Best Album, deservedly.

The starting point is familiar: Marc is a young artist panicking existentially, unable to cope with adulthood, trying to figure out how to relate to his girlfriend, his family, his work, and his society. As a friend once put it: “People in their 20s and 30s always write about people in their 20s and 30s figuring shit out.” True, but Larcenet does what the greatest of story-tellers do: he convinces you for a few hours that the story has never been told before, that this is THE portrait of the artist as a young man.

The protagonist of “Ordinary Victories” may be immature, but the artistry in display here is anything but. Any comics fans whose reading expands beyond spandex will appreciate this. I CAN imagine a reader who might feel that Marc is fighting too many internal battles which are never resolved. But I say that’s fine. How COULD they be resolved?  These are combats, not victories. What was that from that Faulkner book?

“Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.”

ABOVE: She looks so cute when she’s drawn angry



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