Last week, ActuaBD published a short but fascinating interview with Émile Bravo by Christian Missia Dio, where the artist talks about the continuation of Journal d’un ingénu and how he sees Spirou. There is also some discussion of the cartoon adaptation of My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill, a half-comic, half-picture book by Bravo and Jean Regnaud. The film opened in cinemas across France yesterday. If you can read French (or can use Google Translate), you should definitely click over to ActuaBD. If you can’t, here are some of the highlights of the interview.
For a while, I’ve been working on a sequel to Journal d’un ingénu. In the first album I showed how a child opened up to the world. Here I tell the story of how a child becomes a hero to other children. But I’m still in the middle of it; it won’t come out tomorrow.
Indeed, according to the article, it’s a massive undertaking: a sequel in two volumes, the first at around 100 pages and the second at around 60. (At 64 pages, Journal d’un ingénu is the longest one-shot to date.) Bravo continues:
It takes place in the same universe as Journal d’un ingénu. It’s a direct sequel. The idea is to help children understand what a hero is. The ones you see in fiction don’t exist. It’s circumstances that make a hero, and above all, it’s other people! It’s in the eyes of others that someone either is or is not a hero. I am trying to demystify the whole thing. In extreme circumstances, like a war, it’s no use waiting for a Savior. Each one of us is confronted with our own responsibilities. I believe that if we were a bit more naive, a bit more childlike, we would behave in a much more humane way. The problem is that we always calculate the risks. That’s not the case with Spirou. He is still a child or young adolescent who follows his heart.
I also wanted to pull heroism apart from the warrior notion it’s sometimes framed within. What I expect from a hero is not that he’ll take up arms; it’s that he’ll act with humanity. That, to me, is what’s most important. My Spirou does not take up arms, he does not kill Germans. He simply saves people. He is straightforward and accessible to anyone. In my view, that’s what has made him a hero to children for almost a century.
Some have taken these comments as a poke at Yann & Schwartz, whose one-shot Le groom vert-de-gris has often been misunderstood as a sequel to Journal d’un ingénu, and who deal in just the kind of violence Bravo deplores.
Bravo also has this to say about the series, in response to a direct question:
Honestly, Spirou today is addressed more to readers with nostalgia than toward children. My Spirou, anyway, was targeted more toward adults, being full of visual and cultural references that go over the heads of young readers of this millennium.
Now that Journal d’un ingénu is available in Danish, Scandinavian readers may judge for themselves whether they agree. This nostalgiac can hardly wait to see Bravo continue his version of Spirou!
(All the interview material in this post is the property of Christian Missia Dio, and is used without permission. Any errors in translation are the responsibility of Spirou Reporter.)