You Are There

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9781606996485: You Are There
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You Are There is an unexpected collaboration between the darkly cynical Jacques Tardi and the playful fantasist Jean-Claude Forest (of Barbarella fame). It is set on a small island off the coast of France, where unscrupulous landowners have succeeded in overtaking the land from the last heir of a previously wealthy family. His domain now reduced to the walls that border the patches of land he used to own, the half-mad fellow prowls the walls all day, eking out a living by collecting tolls at each gate. His seemingly hopeless struggle to recover his birthright becomes complicated as the government sees a way of using his plight for the sake of political expediency, and the romantic intervention of the daughter of one of the landowners (who has her own sordid history with the politician) engenders further difficulties. Set in Tardi’s preferred early 20th century milieu, You Are There is drawn in his crisp 1980s neo-“clear line” style, gorgeously detailed, with impossibly deep slabs of black.

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About the Author:

There are worse things to be linked with than the image of a naked Jane Fonda spinning in zero gravity, but it should be stressed that Jean-Claude Forest’s career in comics stretches far beyond Barbarella, the 1962 sci-fi romp that ushered in the era of adult comics first in France, then worldwide. He died in 1998 at the age of 58.

Review:

“The work’s crackpot sensibility comes from Forest, best-known for creating the similarly droll sf heroine Barbarella, but it’s Tardi’s art, with its keen compositions, carefully placed areas of black and white, and sensuous line work, that ties the untidy story together. When this cynical, surreal satire appeared in France in the late 1970s, it was seen as a landmark in the development of the bande dessinée; three decades later, it stands to play a similarly valuable role by introducing American readers to one of Europe’s greatest cartoonists.”
- Gordon Flagg, Booklist

“Fantagraphics' panties-to-the-floor handsome English-language version...may blow its own share of minds some three decades after the work's initial publication. ... It's a lost episode of Ripping Yarns in comics form by two in-their-prime masters, the French turned up to dix.”
- Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

“Translated into English for the first time since it was written, more than 25 years ago, Jacques Tardi & Jean-Claude Forest’s You Are There  proves well worth the wait. Forest’s satirical, minimalist writing lampoons French society and human greed with equal skill, and Tardi has never done better art: It’s all deep, dark pools of blackness that perfectly match the pitch-dark humor of the writing. Equal parts Beckett and Kafka, the story explores the conflict between greedy speculators and the last heir of an aristocratic family whose land has been reduced to a series of precarious walls and towers. Tardi’s intricate, gorgeous art gets better and better until the book’s spectacular ending. It’s an absolute must-read for anyone interested in how European comics got to where they are today. Had this been translated earlier, it likely would be counted as one of the masterpieces of the rich period of the mid-’80s... [Grade:] A.”
- The Onion A.V. Club

“Tardi's intricate, cartoony, and beautiful art perfectly expresses Forest's ideas and words. The humorous You Are There masterfully satirizes French society and politics unlike any comic before or since.”
- Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica

You Are There is a masterpiece―a work unique in the history of comics, one of those books one reads and re-reads.”
- David B., author of Epileptic

“Tardi has nice skinny lines and large fields of black. His architecture and cars and landscapes are amazing. ...Arthur There running up and down the walls and living in this skinny little house are neat ideas. This book talks a lot about what it’s like when you spend your life alone and how nuts a slutty crazy girl can make you.”
- Nick Gazin, Vice

“Of all the comics published in 2009, none has deserved more acclaim... than You Are There. ... Tardi's art, which combines the liveliness and simplicity of the best cartooning with a well-observed realism, is perfect for this kind of surreal tale. ... His work deserves to be read and will endlessly reward readers who seek it out.”
- Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead

“[You Are There] is an absurdist satire,... and a pretty terrific one. ... [I]t's seriously a master class on creating a sense not just of place but of a claustrophobic, chaotic, unsustainable state of mind. ... Killer stuff, and more fun than you remember it from French class.”
- Sean T. Collins

“The absurdity of Forest's script is brought to amazing life... It's a tremendous work of art, heightening the weirdness of the narrative very well. ... I would recommend You Are There because it's a thoughtful look at the pressure of conformity and what drives a man mad.”
- Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781606992944: You are There

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ISBN 10:  1606992945 ISBN 13:  9781606992944
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books, 2009
Hardcover