SOME CARTOONISTS excel at conveying a profound sense of displacement, when the physical begets the psychological.
Two of the best creators around at painting this mental state are the French-language cartoonists Guy DeLisle — whose true-life “Pyongyang” is one of my favorite bio-travelogues — and Lewis Trondheim, that co-master of the sword-and-sorcery parody “Dungeon.”
Now, Drawn & Quarterly has landed emotionally gripping graphic novels by them both.
The publisher will announce this afternoon that it has acquired the world English rights for Delisle’s “Hostage” (due out next spring) and Brigitte Findakly and Trondheim’s “Poppies of Iraq” (fall 2017).
Both works, the publisher notes, will be translated by Helge Dascher.
DeLisle has devoted a staggering 15 years to “Hostage,” which will be published this fall in France by Dargaud. It recounts the real-life ordeal of a Doctors Without Borders administrator who was held for more than three months after being kidnapped in the Caucasus, and DeLisle tells the tale solely from the captive’s perspective.
“Guy keeps the reader on the edge of their seat while telling a story that is confined to a few empty rooms,” Drawn & Quarterly publisher Peggy Burns tells us. ” ‘Hostage’ reveals the breadth of the human experience in a few drawn lines.”
Findakly grew up in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s regime, before her family fled to France, and so she writes of feeling caught between cultures. Trondheim’s warm art reflects that sense of emotional loss in exile. Trondheim’s famed publishing house L’Association will publish “Poppies” in French next month.
Findakly and Trondheim have been married nearly a quarter-century, and she also collaborates as his colorist.
“Whether they’re discussing coups d’etat, local customs, censorship, the Iraq-Iran War or feminism, Trondheim and Findakly are evenhanded, informative and deeply humane,” Burns says of “Poppies.”
Both graphic novels will be distributed by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the United States.
Trondheim’s groaning shelf of major comics honors includes the lifetime achievement award from the 2006 Angoulême International Comics Festival in his native France.
The Canadian-born DeLisle — who like Trondheim recently turned 50 — worked in animation for years, and his graphic travelogue/memoir “Jerusalem” was honored at the 2012 Angoulême festival.