FROM LITERATURE INTO COMICS
|Jacques Careyman, ZAZIE DANS LE METRO|
My reputation as an avid reader and a passionate collector of books began at the age of 10 at Cassiobury Park Primary School in Watford c 1955. The teacher gave each of her pupils a chart of suggested titles of books to be read. The titles were demanding and mostly tosh, e.g.Two Years before the Mast, Black Beauty, Little Women. I cannot remember a single title that delighted me. My chart was filled in during that last year before entering Watford Grammar School, and I became the poster boy of Hertfordshire literacy. I could answer the six questions asked of me to prove I had got to the end of each novel and that I had understood the fundamentals of plot.
My secret was the discovery of a range of titles where the drab classics were rendered into brilliant strip cartoon form, Classics Illustrated. They were of course a stimulus to my perceptions of the craft of the illustrator. The congealed dialogue and ponderous descriptions of the Last of the Mohicans had to be severely edited to get in those speech bubbles.I began a subscription to Eagle at the same time, and more classics flowed through the family letterbox.
I feel no shame, but only the greatest pleasure in Classics Illustrated, remembering drawings of action, spreads of colours and intricacies of costume that I would never otherwise have conjured forth.That the publications were American, infused my reading with glamour, a deliberate affront to the stolid tedium of British Culture in the mid 50's. The litle open book on the cover with the price in cents was a great thrill.
I shall be adding as many titles as I can, butlet's begin with something to be proud of in the genre Jacques Carelman's most ingenious visualisation after Raymond Queaneau's novel Zazie dans le Metro for Gallimard 1959 (a title incidentally also available in filmic form directed by Louis Malle 1960).