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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars

on 6 September 2004
This book is one of the most refined and enjoyable illustrated novels along with BONE of Jeff Smith.Here we are not in fantasy realms, though: this books narrates the life of a young writer in Paris, his problems with making end meets,with a nosy concierge, with friends that sometimes take advantage on him, and his relations with women. Our hero, Jean, is a gentle, a bit shy man, prone to insomnia and bizarre dreamings. To me resembles some character out of a Boris Vian novel, as his histories have a surreal, yet realistic taste, like a lucid dream. The drawing it's also very pleasant, having something of a stylized, expressionistic flavor. Recommended for all the comic readers that want someting refined and different.
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on 24 September 2014
Comics for the most part are a collaborative medium usually with one person writing, another drawing, another inking, colouring, lettering, and so on. Rarely do you find two people who work on a comic and do both the writing and drawing together, but such is the case with Charles Berberian and Phillippe Dupuy. In fact, their drawing/writing styles are so similar, they’ve said that even they have a hard time figuring out who did what in their comics!

Get a Life collects the first of their acclaimed and bestselling Monsieur Jean comics from 1989 to the early ‘90s, a time I only mention because you’ll notice that when people want to make a phone call outside they go to a phone box, and they can smoke indoors everywhere! Besides small details though, these comics are timeless and wonderful.

Jean is a young writer in Paris and we follow his travails with women, friends, his concierge (landlady), the everyday material mixed up with fantasy/dream sequences, comedy and a vivid, eye-catching art style. The stories are often entertaining and funny like when Jean looks after his friend’s cat and ends up arrested for suspected sex in a public park, or when he takes on a screenwriting job for an unscrupulous film producer and has to dodge mob enforcers.

But there’s some beautiful, slice of life stories here too that are quite poignant. Like when Jean realises he and his childhood friend have grown apart, or the time he recounts his first break-up, or the story where he battles his critical “dark side” who tries to convince him that his writing is as worthless as the critics say it is. There are also stories that apply to his age of late 20s/early 30s like trying to find a decent flat for a reasonable rent, seeing friends having kids of their own, and being nagged about marriage by his nearest and dearest (he’s something of a playboy).

The art is absolutely lush in true Gallic style - Jean has the same bulbous nose as the more famous French character, Asterix! Charming European architecture, the colours, and the settings: moonlit parties in apartments, lengthy meals in exotic restaurants, glamorous nightclubs, contrasted with smashed up flats, rainy nights, heartbreak, insomnia and food poisoning. Regardless of what they’re writing about, all of Dupuy and Berberian’s panels look amazing.

If you collect gorgeously produced comics, this is a great one to get. High quality, thick paper, excellent printing, well-designed - it’s a lovely object in itself. Full marks to Drawn & Quarterly! Also, if you love these comics and want more, check out the Drawn & Quarterly Anthologies Vols 3 and 5 for some lengthy 50+ page Monsieur Jean stories that follow the character as he ages, gets married, becomes a dad, etc. - they’re also really good!

I first bought/read this back in 2007 and, re-reading it 7 years later, it’s still as fantastic as I remembered. If you enjoy non-superhero comics and want to sample some of the best grown-up comics France has to offer, look no further than Dupuy & Berberian’s Get a Life. Funny, moving, romantic, enjoyable and totally compelling, Monsieur Jean is the best!
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on 27 June 2008
i came across this book when i read about Phillippe Dupuy & Charles Berberian. They have an unusual partnership because both of them share the writing and drawing of most of their output equally. i read an interview with them both and they are quoted saying that sometimes they have a hard time identifying who did what on certain stories, like they had melded into one cartoonist!

Luckily for me D&Q had published this gem of a hardback. It has the first Mr. Jean stories in a well designed format printed on quality paper (D&Q never let us down in that area). It is a nice heavy little book.

I was soon gently introduced to this insomniac writer and his various friends and lovers, in what i would describe as a classic french graphic style. Bulbous noses, very free and energetic characters, whilst retaining a lovingly detailed and realistic looking environment. The stories have a natural flow that incorporates lots of dreamlike surrealism when Mr. Jean lets his imagination wander.

I love the stories and love the art. I just wish D&Q would publish the next 3 in the series in the same format as this book. Highly recommended.
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on 11 April 2014
One of my favourite BDs is Monsieur Jean. I bought it to my wife who was always complaining that she missed these stories because of the language.
Now I am very happy that we have it in English. The translation is very good.
I'm wondering if there will be another book with the rest of the stories.

It's good to know (you can see it from the cover of course) that you won't find actions in it. These are amusing stories of Monsieur Jean and his friends. Like the films of Rohmer.
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