Digging Voguer subtly parodies documentary comics to denounce the harsh reality of the world of work

COMIC BOOK CHRONICLE – The ten false reports of Delphine Panique evoke the very real suffering of precarious workers of our time. Caution, corrosive substance!

Do you know the “moguls”? Every year, seasonal workers take turns tirelessly taking care of these plants throughout their growth. You have to whisper sweet words to them, tap their leaves between your thumb and forefinger, caress them with the back of your hand, alternating between sun and shade using mini-umbrellas… Finally , mages precede picking and grinding. “It’s a very tiring job. […] which requires a great force of affection. The more advanced the phase, the higher the remuneration. But it must be said that it starts very low.

“L’affection des mognoles” is one of the ten chapters of Digging Vogur, the latest comic Delphine Panic, available from Cornelius. Each time, it is a question of describing, in the style of a report, a fictitious job that is particularly precarious, difficult, thankless, uberized and/or dangerous: meal delivery to “baby”minor of “ploon”trainer of “pijaune”… The idea for the comic stems from a real journalistic project carried out in 2019 on unaccompanied minors, from which the artist comes out frustrated: “I would have liked to clearly ume [ma] subjectivity, the falsity of its transcription, my incongruous presence in this story, but it did not seem to fit with the objective of expected truth”, she explains in the foreword.

Some stories, like “The Frozen Lake” and its various “beard fishing” techniques, had previously appeared in the journal Nicole. Delphine Panic / Cornelius 2023

Deliberately overdescriptive, Digging Vogue gently pokes fun at so-called reality comics, which have been very popular in recent years. “I wanted to imitate this documentary comic strip… but from the imagination”, summarizes Delphine Panique at Figaro. Reality, however, is never far away, as when she is inspired by strawberry pickers in southern Spain: “For forty years, they have hired women who come from Morocco to pick strawberries, specifically mothers because they knew they were going to leave their children in the country and therefore they would not stay in Spain afterwards.” A cynicism that we find in his stories that are not so whimsical or dystopian as that.

As an author and single mother, I experience this relationship with precarious work in my daily life… but I’m not going to compare myself with these women in the mines either!

Delphine Panic

If many of its protagonists are single mothers, it is no coincidence. “As an author and single mother, I experience this relationship with precarious work in my daily life… but I’m not going to compare myself with these women in the mines either!”, smiles Delphine Panic. If the designer lives today from her profession, in particular thanks to orders and workshops, she cannot afford to participate in an artist residency because of her sedentary lifestyle – except last year, but she had to drop out of school. her teenage daughter for a month.

The chapter “Funny children” is inspired by the own experience of Delphine Panique, who found herself replacing educators with only a Bafa in your pocket. The caricature is pushed far: the summer camp is half submerged at high tide and one of the monstrous kids, Jean-Pompe, must be attached or kept on a leash in all circumstances.

In “L’affection des mognoles”, the management is intransigent about compliance with the rules. Delphine Panic / Cornelius 2023

Delphine Panique likes to invent silly names and improbable words, like a Claude Ponti feminine. This jubilant habit has taken on unprecedented proportions since his previous comic strip, A nice trip, published by Misma in 2021, in which the fruits were called “pananes”, “goyades”, “meluns”… and the animals ‘cormoflans’, ‘acid penguins’, ‘gut puffin’. Digging Sailing ride this refreshing wave with the “Slovakian” Minouche, a former “building painter” and the “Great Red Gori of Sumaflac Island”. The artist ures that all this comes to him “naturally”!

Yoshiharu Tsuge influenced me a lot in terms of short story work

Delphine Panic

Pionate about the structure of the short story, Delphine Panique imposed a constraint of 22 pages for each chapter of the collection. “Yoshiharu Tsuge (precursor of autobiographical comics in Japan, published by CorneliusEd) influenced me a lot at the level of the work of the short story”, she confides, referring in particular to her open ends, without any real fall. “We put the reader on a track and at some point we abandon him, like skiing”, she laughs, not entirely sure of the relevance of her metaphor. The former modern literature student explains that she also devoured Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupant, Katherine Mansfield and Flannery O’Connor.

THE “blue”, a sublime material that deserves… Delphine Panic / Cornelius 2023

Graphically, the candor of the line is umed. “The simplicity of my drawing means that I can easily counterbalance with somewhat heavy subjects”, believes Delphine Panic. The one who was for a long time “waffle maker obsession” has also allowed itself greater freedom in terms of composition of the board, very neat and harmonious, despite the virtual absence of gutters. Three Pantone colors were used – black for the line, “a slightly cyan blue” And “a yellow flash” –, with the help of the publisher Jean-Louis Gauthey. “It brings depth to the images which at the beginning were very stripped down”, says the author, happy with this collaboration. The result is both sober and powerful, with a yellow/blue alternation in each story (except the last, which mixes the two).

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While the debates on the pension reform have put the question of working conditions, the arduousness and the meaning to be given to work, Digging Sailing questions in its own way our ambivalent relationships with our livelihoods. Proof that fiction can, like journalism, effectively decipher our reality. The extra grain of madness.

Cover of Digging Voguer. Delphine Panic / Cornelius 2023

Digging Vogur, by Delphine Panique, Cornélius, 248 pages, 24.50 euros.

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