The manga legend Yoshiharu Tsuge in Angoulême to receive the Fauve d’honneur

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“Are you aware of living a historic moment?” We hardly. On the other hand, for the few world comic stars gathered this morning in the rain in front of the Museum of Fine Arts while the festival-goers were still sleeping, the moment was ecstatic of Sainte-Thérèse. The American Charles Burns or the Japanese Inio Asano came to make sure that they hadn’t been lied to: Yoshiharu Tsuge, 82, a manga monster as legendary for comics as perfectly unknown to the general public, does exist, and here he is finally in the flesh, freshly arrived and almost by surprise from his district of Chôfu in Tokyo (and not from a lost village as the myth thought), to Angoulême, to visit the unique retrospective that the international festival consecrates to his work, and be awarded a Fawn of Honor this evening.

Time for collective visit “Absolutely magical”, in the general opinion of a few handpicked fans, following at a distance the fragile silhouette of this “Godard of the manga”, an old melancholy gentleman today scrutinizing the boards of the past with his nose glued to the picture rails, and having fun on hope to read on the faces around the deference inspired today by legendary works which he himself does not care about. “Yes yes, he said it again, confirms its translator Léopold Dahan, he has no interest in this world consecration, the first of this scale for him. “

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Tsuge, he says, never drew “Only for the money”, seeking to flee the middle of the manga as soon as the means allowed him to dissolve in the cherished landscape of the old days, refusing any media solicitation or translation of his work abroad (the French circle of happy few does not know him only by a single translated work, The man without talent, the others having only circulated on the web in cracked versions). And the gap, today in Angoulême, is devilishly romantic: between the fascination of his peers and the indifference of the person concerned, between the primordial place that Tsuge occupies in modernity and his almost total lack of notoriety.

At least so far. Because this exhibition of more than 250 originals (a coup that will never happen again), in parallel with an anthology being edited by Cornelius, will surely help to replace the missing piece in the puzzle, that of history still too fragmented of the manga in general and its authorist side in particular. An impulse given by France, and not by Japan. “What is interesting, analyzes a connoisseur by our side. It is funny that Asano, direct heir to Tsuge, and obviously not daring to say a word to him during the exhibition visit, had to wait until he was in Angoulême to find his master. “

Yoshiharu Tsuge in Angoulême on February 1.

Eve Beauvallet

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