Pigmentation d’un Discours Amoureux by Mai Li Bernard. Dédales Éditions / Collection Détours, 2014. No ISBN in the book, but 9782955060605 found elsewhere. 48pp.
To see images from the book, go to May 2015 in Mai Li Bernard’s Tumblr archive.
Gene: This is a French graphic novel, but it’s wordless. Its title in English would be <Pigmentation of Loving Speech> or <The Color of Loving Conversation> or something like that. I bought it at Stuart Ng Books last time I was in Los Angeles. (I found out about his bookstore via his booth at the San Diego Comic-Con. He sells a lot of art books that are related of the comic scene: sketchbooks, graphic novels, reference books…and one of the things he does is he imports French books based on how beautiful they are. I find things in his showroom that I’d never see anywhere else.)
In this book, everyone’s thought bubbles and word balloons contain colored dots, and they’re more about that character’s mood during the interaction than anything else.
The first page is two characters in the rain. The man has an umbrella, the woman doesn’t. They’re both thinking black, unhappy thoughts. She passes him. His thoughts turn red at seeing her, and stay red as they walk along together. (I think that’s sexual interest.) The sun comes out so she’s happy (yellow). And then she walks away, so his thoughts turn black again.
It’s simple, the meaning isn’t always that clear, but that’s the idea of this book: can colors represent the feelings of or the tone of characters interactions. Usually it’s about a man and a woman in a romantic or romantic-ish context.
Sarah: Some of it is not quite as understandable as that first page.
G: I’ve looked at some pages and puzzled over them. I don’t always feel like I understand the purple dots, and there’s one where the guy is worked up (red) looking at his computer, and then there are multiple red dots that overlap each other. Maybe he’s turned on by looking at a bunch of windows full of pornography at the same time? (Then he tries to call the woman (yellow) but she doesn’t answer (black).)
The comics where they’re having sex are some of my favorites. In 6.4 (the 4th page of the 6th sequence, which starts with a romantic dinner), they’re having sex on the woman’s couch. He sounds very turned on (red) but she keeps telling him it’s not working for her (black). Finally he loses interest (a red circle that’s crossed out). He storms off saying black dot things, but she’s trying to get him to come back or to make it clear she’s interested (red dot).
S: The characters are really simple, almost stick figures. You can really only infer gender because one of them has long hair and is wearing a skirt.
G: Here’s one where they’re watching TV, and kind of absorbing the mood of the show.
S: Because the TV screen has its own color dot.
G: I have no great way to talk about this book, so I’m going to include a few scanned pages. What I like is that the dots look like they’re punched out pieces of paper — each has a slight shadow. They give that sense that each dot was a piece of paper put down on top of another piece of paper, which I like, even though I know it was probably done digitally.
When I saw this book I immediately knew I’d buy it. I’ll probably never see anything like it again in my life.
S: Reading comics from Canada and Europe is interesting to me because they get some local arts funding. What would comics look like in the U.S. if we had that?
G: I doubt we’ll ever know. Seattle just voted down local arts funding…
S: There is some from the county from 4 Culture.
G: I hear there’s too much gaming of what funding there is here. But that said I saw that Seattle’s Short Run is giving grants to make comics.
S: And that’s what you need to do.