If we were to found a French school of dialogue, I would not give it the name of Michel Audiard. Too licked, too theatrical. The characters pose, complacently roll the words over their tongue like wine experts. No ! Rather the Bretécher school, Claire’s first name. Cellulite, the Frustrated, Agrippina: the characters pass, the Bretécher style remains, like the seabed under the foam. Several creatures, one god, or one goddess, in this case. We think of Chevillard: “Style is a remarkable phenomenon first of all in that spontaneity and sophistication are not irreconcilable there.” Spontaneity, sophistication, two breasts in the Nantaise style. It goes so fast! And it was never released. Like members of a large family, his characters have common formulations and idiosyncrasies. Think only of the unforgettable failure that is Uncle Jean-Million, to whom Agrippina one day inflicts a severe uppercut, to the cry of “Chuckled uncle!”.
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God knows how difficult dialogue is, to the point that many novelists avoid it, preferring indirect turns. In comics, and particularly in these, impossible to cheat, impossible to tell what a character says, without actually making him speak; we are in contact with words. And at Bretécher, never time out. The crossfade effect is further accentuated by this characteristic lack of punctuation, also dear to poets, which conjures up the concerted, affected aspect of the dialogue. There is the anti-Audiard, the relaxation so prized by our new valve merchants who dream of seeing it taught, there is the supreme detachment. And it is not even the result of learning here.
Bretécher has so much to say, words burn his fingers. The pearls are in the large bubbles as much as in the small ones. Some people wonder: what to fill forty-eight blank pages with? The questioning in her is the opposite: how to bring such a bubbling of ideas, scenes, valves into the rigid railroad? The style as often is a consequence. The artist does not lack material, but time. So the words amputate, jostle. The apocopes flower. Hence the taste for adolescence: the principle of pleasure above all else. The info passes; for the rest, no time, sorry.
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Then the images mix with style, and the neglected fake remains. The characters are sketched, their colors sometimes overflowing, which gives the reader this impression of floating. Marriage of colors and languages which gives this coherence to creatures, a spine or a form of ethics. No time to stretch out, or to explain, zum. The art of Bretécher is like a game of mikado: each element guarantees the whole; you cannot remove one without weakening the whole. Corollary: examine an aspect isolated from the rest, it immediately loses its charm. But we learn that from Bretécher, is there no more? Tuna steak, Agrippina would say. Now is the time to re-read everything.