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The final nominee list for the Joe Shuster Awards won’t be announced for at least another week, but in the meantime longlists for the five Joe Shuster Awards (down from seven in 2011) have been posted. Included on the list for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist is Guy Delisle for his graphic work Chroniques de Jerusalem. My French is a bit rusty, so I picked up a copy of the English version, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, translated by Helge Dascher.
I haven’t looked at any of Delisle’s work before and I have to say that the art is amazing. He uses two hues for most panels—black and then a second hue at varying saturations—but sometimes throws in splashes of other colours. Delisle uses this technique to bring the reader’s attention to specific details or to indicate loud noises. The visual effect is lovely.
Delisle’s lines are simple, his page layouts straightforward. The simple visual storytelling is what makes his reportage so impressive. The book chronicles the year that Delisle and his family spent in Israel while his wife worked for Doctors Without Borders. While the reader doesn’t really get a proper introduction to the conflict in
Israel, Delisle’s attention to the day-to-day details of life in Jerusalem makes the reader want to learn more.
Delisle’s focus on being a primary care giver, and his constant quest to find his kids a better playground, is charming. Although I found his repeated use of the term “housewife” to be a little condescending. Maybe something got lost in translation.
He also explores the challenge of working as a cartoonist while caring for his children and trying to move around, out of, and back into, Israel. There are several scenes in which Delisle is detained for questioning at airports while traveling to comics festivals and on many occasions a soldier tells him to leave the spot where he has been sketching. He takes a particular interest in the Israeli West Bank barrier and sketches it often.
Jerusalem is a beautiful book—in either language, I’m sure—and I think we can expect to see it on the final nominee list next week.