Veteran graphic novelist Guy Delisle talks to Rachel Cooke about his Delisle is a comics writer whose books – Shenzhen, Pyongyang. Last year’s Pyongyang introduced Delisle’s acute voice, as he reported from North Korea with unusual insight and wit, not to mention. This is one of Guy Delisle’s earliest Travelogues, with a trip to Shenzhen, China to oversee the completion of a children’s cartoon in

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W hen Guy Delisle arrived in Israel inhe thought: But then he saw east Jerusalem, where MSF stationed its employees, and he began to wonder.

The non-existent pavements, the cratered roads, the piles of rubbish Day one in this strange new land saw Delisle going out to buy disposable nappies. Except it was a Friday; everywhere in Arab east Jerusalem was closed.

His only option was to use the supermarket in a nearby Israeli settlement. My books are always at pavement level. That’s what I do. Delisle is a comics writer whose books — ShenzhenPyongyangBurma Chronicles — document his travels so vividly that you return to your Rough Guide, your Lonely Planet with a heavy heart.

Funny, precise, and unafraid to mention national foibles, Delisle begins xhenzhen narratives as the baffled outsider: Once embedded, though, he moves carefully beyond all this quotidian stuff.

He vuy people and asks them questions, some basic, some tricky. He goes on day trips, albeit not necessarily to the tourist places.


The blinds roll up. Places that seem fuzzy and complicated — or, in the case of Pyongyang, completely invisible — appear before you, clear and bright. His new book, Jerusalem: The bar is set extremely high when it comes to graphic books and the Middle East: But JerusalemI think, beats them all.

Given the millstone of history, you could have forgiven Delisle for flunking this one. Yet his book is a small miracle: Within its pages, you will find the settlements and the “security” wall. But you will also witness the one night of the year when the Haredim get paralytically drunk; meet the priest who keeps a collection of horror films at his church on the Mount of Olives; and find out what happens when Delisle shows Nablus art students scenes from one of his old strips.

The book, like Burma Chronicleswas written at home in Montpellier, after the family’s month posting was up Delisle is a Quebecois; his wife is French. I wondered where I would ever start. Back at home, I waited for two months, I read back all my notes, looked at all my sketches and then I did as I always do.

I didn’t want to write about the Yom Kippur war or whatever. I love comics because they are so efficient. If I need to draw a little arrow, or a map, then I do.

Guy DeLisle’s Jerusalem: Read an excerpt about the Old Market from the new graphic memoir

If you did those things in a documentary, it would look like a PowerPoint presentation. But in a comic, it’s fine. I can explain the entire history of the Temple Mount in three pages! One frame is all he needs.

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Does he rearrange things, the better to improve his narrative? The book begins with a touching scene in which a Holocaust survivor — Delisle sees the camp tattoo on his arm — plays with Ehenzhen on their flight out to Israel, which seems a little neat: The only thing I do is remove the boring stuff.

I do have quite an English sense of humour. My emotions are way back.

Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China

Delisle, who began his working life as an animator, is thrilled to have reached a point where he can make a living from comic books alone he is translated into 13 languages, though, so far, no one has asked to do Jerusalem in Hebrew or Arabic.

But this may be the last of his big travelogues. He and Nadege have decided that, for the sake deliale their children, they must fuy in France for the time being.

I don’t want to look like I like to go deeper. Once, you see, I went to Vietnam. I had a great time, I took lots of notes. But there was sehnzhen book. Topics Comics and graphic novels The Observer.

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