Back to Basics, Vol. 4: The Flood by Jean-Yves Ferri and Manu Larcenet
Jumping in at volume four, you might want a Synopsis for Latecomers .
Or, perhaps, you might want to know what happened in earlier Back to Basics books. This is a humorous, more-or-less autobiographical comics series originally published in France in the early Aughts, soon after the events depicted. Cartoonist Manu Larcenet moved from Paris to a small rural town – Ravenelles is either the name of the town, or the house he lives in, or something like that – along with his partner Mariette, and these are stories of his adventures there, almost entirely in the traditional “rural people are stoic, laconic, and good at everything, while urbanites are neurotic and mostly useless” mode. There’s also an element of “I am a total goofball who is barely useful at anything, and my partner is a wonderful angel in everything,” which is also deeply traditional.
The credits are unclear, and the story of the creation of this series is played for laughs in this series, but my current theory, based on what we see in this book and the previous one, is that Larcenet told stories of his life to Jean-Yves Ferri, who then scripted them for Larcenet to draw. How much Larcenet altered those scripts in the drawing is an open question. For this US publication – in the mid-Teens, about a decade after the French originals – they were translated by Mercedes Claire Gilliom.
The substance of Back to Basics is ninety half-page comic strips in each book – think of them roughly as modern Sunday-comics size, sometimes one big panel, sometimes a 2×3 grid, sometimes somewhere in between – which each have their own setups and punch lines but tend to cluster into storylines and tell one general overall story for the book.
This fourth book, The Flood , follows Real Life , Making Plans , and The Great World . It it, the baby born at the end of Great World is now a loudly squalling bundle most of the time, as babies often are. Her name is Capucine, but she mostly functions as a noisemaker and a burden here.
So this is largely the-baby-is-crying humor, with sidelines in how-can-I-get-away-from-the-crying-baby and don’t-make-any-noise-the-baby-is-sleeping and our-lives-are-suddenly-different, as usual. The other big event is implied by the title: there are massive rainstorms, which flood large portions of this countryside but don’t really affect Larcenet and family directly.
Oh, a rave does descend on their house because of the rain, I suppose. But it’s mostly baby stuff, which is entirely normal: babies are overwhelming and completely transform your life.
It’s fun and funny and continues the stories from the previous books – I don’t want to overstate “stories” here, since this really is something like a daily comic, with those kind of rhythms – and I’d recommend it for people who like that kind of thing.
One quirky thing: I don’t think this series is available to buy anywhere in the English language. I read it through the Hoopla app for libraries – which is full of stuff, and I hugely recommend it if your system uses it – and it’s also available on Kindle Unlimited, but there doesn’t seem to be a print edition or even a get-your-own-set-of-electrons version.
Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.