Etienne Davodeau is a rising star of French comics NBM ComicsLit is proud to introduce with a fascinating journal of an exchange he decided to make with a wine-maker friend. He and Richard Leroy, formerly banker and now owner of a small organic winery in the Loire valley, decide to become each other for a year, as it were.
And so starts a journey of discovery into the worlds of wine-making and comics. Through Etienne, we discover how very particular and detailed running a top-rated uncompromising winery can be, what is the grueling yearly routine varied only by the vagaries of the weather which makes or breaks a vintage. On the other side, along with Richard, we come along to talk about inspiration and work ethics with leading comic artists Trondheim, Guibert, and Matthieu, and to visit comic conventions, Etienne’s publisher, as well as his printer.
Mostly we get to find out the tough decisions such an artist or artisan must make along the way creatively or functionally. Both are uncompromising, opting for best quality even if it may mean more work and less money. And, whether between comic artists or wine-makers, the choices of your means to achieve the best end result are debatable, especially in Richard’s case in the brand new ecological and natural constraints of going organic where the means are still being invented and tested.
They start out ignorant of each other’s endeavor and end up initiated. And so do we along with them. Whether you like a fine glass of wine or a fine story told in comics (maybe at the same time), you will be transported into the process by two masters who end up admiring each other and seeing how both of them end up bringing people together with their creation. Siring either nectar from a hard rocky soil or inspiring works of art from the hard knocks of life, the end result is elevation of the soul.
Davodeau was born in the countryside from a blue collar background, unionized parents proud of their good student son who also doodled and is now a bestselling author. In his works, he never fully leaves the working class unpretentious roots he came from. This explains why he took on the hard labor of vineyard maintenance with such energy.
8x11, 272pp., B&W hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 9781561637034, publication April 2013.
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