French History, Brexit, Dictatorship: Three Comic Books to Read This Month

Once a month, Economic alternatives offers a selection of comics dedicated to economic and social news.

1/ History of France, bottom view

“As long as the rabbits don’t have historians, the story will be told by the hunters”famously said Howard Zinn, an author over twenty years ago People’s History of the United States. The same conviction inspired the historian Gerard Noiriel when, in 2018, he popular history of France (Agone, second edition, 2019), which writers Lisa Lugrin and Clément Xavier, accompanied by designer Alain Gaston Rémy, have adapted into this comic in two volumes.

Forget your chronology of monarchs and the date of the battle of Marignane: it is “inhabited” history – in every sense of the word – that this double opus offers, focusing on the ordinary life of subordinates – serfs, artisans, workers. – and the way in which they, from the Middle Ages to the Yellow Vests, could mobilize to resist, as far as possible, the prohibition and violence of power.

An opportunity to discover, for example, the figure of Erasmus Gerber, the tanner who led the Rusteau uprising in 1525, during which Alsatian peasants protested against abusive corvées, before the uprising was brutally suppressed. “Never did the people demonstrate such strength until 1789”, says Gerard Noiriel. However, this major episode remains outside the history textbooks…

Popular but not populist, emphasizing the fate of immigrants, slaves and other colonized people, this history of France obviously does not ignore the prominent role in the historical dynamics of political power and the struggle between the dominant actors (seigneurs, aristocracy, etc., the bourgeoisie, etc. .). Not to mention, popular categories have often been instrumental in this struggle—and suppressed as soon as their demands become independent.

© Delcourt

Gathering 800 pages of text from the original opus into nearly 500 drawn pages, these two volumes remain solid. Fortunately, humor serves as a red thread that illuminates the history of social struggle, which, strewn with defeats, despite some great victories, will dispel any naive belief in a brighter future.

Analyzing the mobilization of the yellow vests on the spot, Gerard Noiriel notes, however, that “As in all great social struggles, this movement has brought to light the ingenuity and creative power of the people when solidarity makes it possible to confront the collective resistance to class domination.”.

Stop rekindling hope for the next mobilization!

Xavier Molenat

Popular history of France, Gerard Noiriel, Clement Xavier, Lisa Lugrin and Alain Gaston Remy, Delcourt editions. Volume 1: From the Royal State to the Commune, 2021, 256 pages, 21.90 euros. Volume 2: From Black Faces to Yellow Vests, 2022, 248 pages, €21.90.

2/ Brexit UK Finance

comic magazine, that’s more than 200 pages of investigative and comic book reporting every quarter. The issue, available in bookstores this summer, offers, among other things, a behind-the-scenes look at Brexit and British financial circles. Because it is presented primarily as the result of a vote” ordinary people againstinstitution »leaving the European Union was also defended by wealthy financiers who saw it as an opportunity to deregulate the sector and did not hesitate to put their hands on their wallets to win the case.

These rich campaign advocates” leave Present themselves as the heirs of the sulphurous Franco-British billionaire James Goldsmith (who died in 1997), a financier who was involved in politics in the 1990s in the European sovereignist milieu, notably with Philippe de Villiers.

© La Revue Dessinee

They spread their ideas through various think tanks the radical right gathered at 55 Tufton Street, just a few steps from the British Parliament.

“Many ministers in the government of Boris Johnson are associated with this. This ideological bubble is characterized by its rampant liberalism (…), rejection of the European Union and climate skepticism.”This is reported by Kayla Mandel, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the British investigative journalism agency.

And in France? Ties between finance and the far right are less strong than across the English Channel, but are developing rapidly. “During this year’s presidential campaign, many of these radical right-wing financiers, for example, rallied around Eric Zemmour, whose ultra-liberal and authoritarian agenda they value.”can be read in a report based on the work of two sociologists, Theo Burgeron and Marlene Behnke, co-authors of a 2021 book on authoritarian finance.

Also in this issue is a report prepared in Deux-Sèvres, where the construction of reservoirs dedicated to agricultural irrigation is causing tension. And one more about mobilizations against the Lyon-Turin high-speed line, produced in cooperation with comic magazine Italian to understand what is happening on both sides of the Alps. And much more! As usual, a very rich number.

Aude Martin

comic magazine No. 36, summer 2022, 224 pages, 18 euros.

3/ The absurdity of dictatorship

“A poet, a clown, a failed student, a cleaning lady and me, a secretary… Doesn’t that make any sense? We would be dissidents or protesters, I would understand, but here we are ordinary people without interest … “, asks one of the seven characters we’ll follow in Bear Ceausescu. And yet this group has a special mission…

© Editions Steinkis

After Goodbye Ceausescu A documentary journey through post-communist Romania published in 2021, this work by Aurélien Ducoudray, which covers the period 1967-1989 when the dictator was in power in Bucharest, confirms Steinkis’ interest in the Romanian situation. Inspired by real events, the author here uses the tragicomic register to depict, in the form of a series of fairy tales, a portrait of a dictatorship that is both terrifying and absurd.


Bear CeausescuAurélien Ducoudray, Gaël Henri and Paul Bonat, Steinkis, April 2022, 135 pp., 20 euros.