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Pattes De Mouches, Various
posted June 14, 2006

In the process of unpacking from two straight months of work-related travel, I've had only the slightest opportunity to look over the growing stack of comics in the to-be-read pile. In the interest of putting things in order, I chose to start with the smallest books (thus, most likely to be misplaced), which brought me to another new batch of Pattes de mouches from L'Association.

L'Espignole by Baudoin. This is a very mini mini-comic, even by the reduced expectations of the form. Limiting himself to a single-panel per page, Baudoin reminisces about his childhood village in southeastern France, the lack of indoor plumbing and the joys of bathing in the river. That's pretty much the whole concept, just a quick trip down memory lane. Your interest in a comic such as this one will be immediate -- either you are seduced by Baudoin's lush drawings, or you are not. I am, so I liked it. But there's not much meat on this fragment of a story.

Die Europanichos Assimil by Benoit Jacques. This is another casual piece of work, but a more successful one. Seeking to bring the European Community together, Jacques provides a textbook for linguistic understanding that offers a combination of words, non-words and semi-words from a variety of languages, tossed into a bizarre melange. Example: Die ideen umf dieze buuk is tou permettre at aull die memberes della Europeanichos Communitad de comprendes each les autres. The main body of the book is then taken up by a story of pizzas and policemen, drawn in a style that suggests that perhaps it was simply pulled out of Jacques' sketchbook. If you find the phrasing above funny, you'll like the book. If you didn't get it, read on.

imageMystery Music by Mahler. For those who find word games in foreign languages tricky, there's always Mahler and his wordless comics. This is a series of gags in which the artist visually represents the sound of music, and the impact that it has on its audience. As is often the case with Mahler, the gags are understated and genuinely clever, but these are not exactly breath-takingly original. You may have a sense of dejà vu with this one.

Le Rock et si je ne m'abuse Le Roll by Killoffer. This one is the pick of the litter, and, in fact, may be a contender for best Patte de Mouche ever. Working in a very detailed style and a six-panel grid, Killoffer unfolds a relatively lengthy imagining of his life in a famous rock band. A sort of "What If L'Association Had Been Rockstars Instead of Cartoonists", Killoffer takes the self-mocking and self-examination from 676 Apparitions of Killoffer and lets it run wild again. The Killoffer of this book is a selfish asshole beset by his colleagues and fans, and the world that he inhabits is both compelling and repellent. This book is also a masterful display of his talent for partial and overlapping dialogue (a comic book Robert Altman). Of all the comics that I've read recently, this is, if not necessarily the best, the most entertaining.

Mon Killoffer de poche by Francois Ayroles. And speaking of Killoffer, he is the subject of a new book by François Ayroles, who parodies the best-dressed L'Asso member in a series of short gags, most of which feature Killoffer shouting his name. Killoffer! Read in conjunction with Le Rock, these two books present a man obsessed with himself, and with his place in the world. It would be a horribly deflating parody if Killoffer wasn't so self-deflating in his own work. The question remains: Does Ayroles draw Killoffer better than Killoffer does?