After having planted his albums in the most exotic places (Pyongyang, Shenzhen, Burma or Jerusalem), cartoonist Guy Delisle chose an astonishing setting for his new columns: a pulp and paper factory in Quebec where he worked as a teenager.
This factory, full of pipes and chimneys, left a strong impression on Guy Delisle when he started working there at the age of 16. Almost 40 years later, the cartoonist has just made it the main subject of his most recent album, Youth Chronicles.
“I had been thinking about this project for over 10 years. I thought it would be good to make an album in the context of the factory and the workers, but I wanted to wait until I was old to tell my memories. Today, I am 55 years old, so I give myself the right! During a trip to Quebec, three years ago, I was able to revisit the plant, which is still in operation, and take several photos. ”
As soon as he walked through the door of the White Birch, a host of images came to mind, he says. “The sound, the smell of paper, the stifling heat. It had a big impact on me. ”
A series of anecdotes
The album project then became more concrete, says the designer based in France, in Montpellier. “I pulled the thread of my memory and realized I had enough material to make a book out of it. The work was different from my other chronicles, since I had to look deeper into my memories, but the working method remained the same: I present a series of anecdotes. “
Instead of recounting a trip, I recount my memories. It’s a journey back in time …
Youth Chronicles features a gallery of colorful characters, the workers with whom Guy Delisle, then a plastic arts student, shared his daily life for three summers: a bodybuilder in the making, a motorcycle enthusiast, a worker who spent his days with his shirt untied , showing off his belly in the open … “At 16, I was a shy young man. I was a little out of step with the other workers. They also were in relation to me. Knowing that I wanted to work in drawing surprised them. It is a world that did not exist for them. ”
Today, these workers live again under the pen of Delisle, just like the factory, which is undoubtedly the main character of the story. Indeed, Guy Delisle is not stingy with details to describe the operation of the machines, the repetitive tasks that the employees had to accomplish, the dangers which awaited them …
“Drawing the factory was my favorite part of the album. At the beginning, I wondered if I should tell about my studies in the arts or my youth in the suburbs of Quebec, but what I liked about this project was the factory. It’s a nice decor to draw… ”
He does not exclude the possibility of addressing these other parts of his past in future albums. “I have a few ideas, but nothing concrete yet. He knows, however, that there will be no fifth volume in the Bad Father’s Guide. “My children have grown up, we no longer have the same kind of relationship. I could hardly continue. ”