‘The Road’, by Manu Larcenet: all the horror of Cormac McCarthy in one stroke | Babelia

‘The Road’, by Manu Larcenet: all the horror of Cormac McCarthy in one stroke | Babelia
‘The Road’, by Manu Larcenet: all the horror of Cormac McCarthy in one stroke | Babelia

The exhausting and suffocating road that Cormac McCarthy describes in his highly recognized creation generates strange connections with the career of Manu Larcenet. Formed in that imposing school of humor that is Glacial Fluid, He knew how to exploit his undoubted talent for satire in his collaborations with Lewis Trondheim in such famous series as The Dungeon, But it would be in the autobiographical perspective and the manners where he would find his greatest success, uniting that facility for irony with introspection about his person and past in series such as Return to Earth or the multi-award-winning The daily battles.

However, it was evident that the author needed something more and his collaborations and works with L’Association allow us to discover a creator in constant search and mutation, revealing a profile very far removed from the works that made him famous. His lines continually change, becoming organic and with a hardness supported by sharp black and white, in an intricate and complex path of personal search that would be reflected in works such as blast either The Brodeck Report. A private journey that evidenced the constant tension between personal creative demand and the author’s own particular reading of his success, in a struggle full of chiaroscuros and suffocation that could only result in his mental health breaking down, as he narrates with absolute and naked sincerity in the recently published group therapy (Editorial Standard).

With that reference, it is easy to find in the approach to the adaptation of Road (Norma Editorial) a whole series of parallel and even underground readings, which intersect in a dense network of confluences: in the face of this journey in search of Kerouac’s inner self, the past and the intimate present, McCarthy’s work introduces with its post-apocalyptic component a frightening look outwards, to the most fearsome otherness, to the distance of humanity from any idea or definition that was had of what a human being is.

And, in that isolation infected with dread at the simple contact with others, that suffocating scenario of omnipresent gray of ashes as the only memory of the future of humanity, Larcenet moves with inhuman precision supported by his reflection. His brushstrokes once again immerse themselves in that dark side that human beings continually try to hide and, as in the adaptation of Claudel’s work, he outlines oppressive atmospheres of powerful stain, which are disturbing in their insane capacity to transfer evil and pain. The story of that man willing for his son to survive a global disaster, on a route to nowhere contaminated with death and stench, allows Larcenet an authentic exercise of maximum expressiveness: it is not only adapting the story of the Pulitzer-winning novel , is to create a visual narrative that manages to convey that feeling of a dying future through graphic impact, maximizing the sound of silences, the power of glances and the reflection of the reader.

He does not take the reference of Gustave Doré’s style illustrating Dante’s descent into hell as a guide for a display of virtuosity in drawing, it is not the accuracy of the line that he wants to replicate, but the hell that terrifies us from those lines. And, without a doubt, he succeeds: it is impossible to survive reading this work by Larcenet unscathed, because the images remain creating a disturbing pool of pain and rage, of primordial fear that recalls the wild nature of the human being.

In this scenario, the French creator manages to make the reader’s fear of the other a mirror of his own fears, placing creation and reading on the same level by completely appropriating McCarthy’s work for his interests, but without losing its power. unapproachable American prose. A work that, more than being read, is felt. As it should be in the great works of comics.

Manu Larcenet
Adaptation of the book by Cormac McCarthy
Standard, 2024
160 pages. 29.50 euros

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