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Graphic Literature

From “Diary”

By Fabrice Neaud
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
The following article contains scenes depicting nudity and sexual situations. Reader discretion is advised.
FOR TWO YEARS NOW . I'VE BEEN GOING TO THE PARK AND THE RAMPARTS . I WAS STILL IN ART SCHOOL WHEN THEY WARNED ME " THINGS WENT ON UP THERE . It'S AMAZING HOW PEOPLE JUDGE WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW . STILL . I WAS SUSPICIOUS TILL DECIDED TO TAKE A LOOK .

[Frame]
OF COURSE . THERE WAS NO ONE THE FIRST NIGHT .

[Frame]
I SORT OF EXPECTED THAT . BUT A FEW LECHERS WOULD'VE SATISFIED MY CURIOSITY .

THEN I LEARNED TO LOOK . TO SPOT THE SIGNS .

[Frame]
I LEARNED . HE NEVER SEES WHO KNOWS NOT WHERE TO LOOK .

I FINALLY GOT INTO THE HABIT OF COMING ALMOST EVERY NIGHT .

[Frame]
ONLY TO SEE , FOUR TIMES OUT OF FIVE . NOTHING BUT CARS GOING ROUND IN ENDLESS CIRCLES .

[Frame]
AND THE REST OF THE TIME . FLAUNTING THEMSELVES . AN INSUFFERABLE CROWD . TOTALLY CARICATURED AT BEST HAIRSTYLISTS .

[Frame]
HARMLESS OLD PEEPING PERVS .
HUSBANDS BORED WITH MARRIED ROUTINE . COME FOR WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF AS A MUST - SEE OF PERVERSION .

[Frame]
THEY WERE THE MOST VULGAR OF ALL

Guy in car: Hey . over here !

FOR THEY DEBASED WHAT THEY DID HERE . HOPING TO SANCTIFY THER COUPLEHOOD .

[Frame]
Guy in car: You're asking for it ! Or you wouldn't be here . C'mon ......

Guy in car: Come suck my dick

WATCHING THEM . I REMEMBERED THEM FROM WHEN I WAS A BOY ...

[Frame]
THEY WERE THE SAME ONES WHO'D CALL ME A FAG WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING WHAT IT MEANT .

JUST BECAUSE I DIDN'T LIKE THER GAMES .

[Frame]
THE SAME ONES WHO MADE ME DOUBT MYSELF SO MUCH WHEN I BECAME A FAG . AND THOUGHT THEY CALLED ME THAT

BECAUSE IT WAS WRITTEN ALL OVER MY FACE .

[Frame]
THE SAME ONE-HERE TODAY- STILL PLAYING TOUGH.

BUT IM THE ONE IN CHARGE NOW .

[Frame]
HERE . I KNOW ALL THE RULES .

IM AT HOME . ON MY TURF

[Frame]
WHERE I BELONG

THEY'RE NOT .

[Frame]
THEY'LL FINALLY PAY FOR ALL THER KIND .

WHAT , YOU THINK YOU'RE HOT ? LOSER ! GO BACK TO WHACKING OFF WITH LATE NIGHT !
Man in car: LOSER YOURSELF ! HOMO !

[Frame]
AND SO THE CARS KEEP GOING ROUND IN CIRCLES . MY HEAD . TOO . ALMOST TWO YEARS . AND STILL NO ONE.

[Frame]
I'M PROBABLY NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE WHO COMES HERE . IT ALL WENT DOWNHILL SO FAST .

IT TAKES THE FACE OF FEAR FEAR OF BEING RECOGNIZED .

[Frame]
OF BEING ATTACKED . FEAR THAT CHOOSES FLIGHT . TOWARD DARKNESS .

[Frame]
TOWARD WORDLESS FUCKS .

[Frame]
TOWARD THE WOULD BE SALVATION OF HAND JOBS WITH NO STRINGS . NO TOMORROWS . NO RISKS

[Frame]
AND IN THE END . NO LOVE .

OR JUST SOMETHING DRESSED UP TO LOOK LIKE IT

[Frame]
I SAY NO .
I SAY NO TO THE ANONYMITY AT OF FACES .

[Frame]
I SAY NO TO THE DARK AT

I WANT TO KNOW WHO IM DEALING WITH

[Frame]
I SAY NO TO THE FEAR AND FLIGHT THAT TURN US ALL

INTO MITATIVE(?) INSECTS .

[Frame]
I DON'T WANT TO BE LIKE THAT . I DON'T WANT TO LOSE MYSELF . OR GIVE UP ON MYSELF .

I'LL INSIST ON MYSELF TO THE END . WALK AROUND WITH MY FACE UNHIDDEN . REFUSING TO BOW TO THE CLICHÉS THAT MOST WHO COME HERE IMPOSE ON THEMSELVES .

[Frame]
DON'T THEY UNDERSTAND

THAT PRECISELY BECAUSE WE HAVE EVERY FREEDOM HERE

[Frame]
WE CAN FINALLY CONSIDER GIVING THE BEST OF OURSELVES ?

TRY TO HOLD OUT . THAT WAY . I KNOW WHOEVER COMES MY WAY

[Frame]
WON'T BE PART OF THE FAGGOT MATING DISPLAY .

[Frame]
MEANWHILE ... NIGHT AFTER NIGHT OF MISJUDGMENTS

AND TEMPORARY MEASURES .
FEBRUARY 24 , 1992 . THE RAMPARTS .

Man off frame: Hey !

Man: Hey ...

Man off frame: Hey ! You cruising ?

Man: Yeah ....

Man off frame: Come here often ?

Man: Every now and then ...

Man off frame: What are you looking for

Man: Depends . You know a place to go ?
Man off frame: Yeah . But I'd love to chat a bit first . Does that bother you?

Man: No ....

Man: But I have to meet my parents at 9. It's my birthday

Man off frame: Oh .

Man off frame: Happy birthday then .

Man: Thanks

Man off frame: So ... does right here after 9 work for you

Man: OK . Where to then ?

Man off frame: Oh my place. Least I can do for your birthday .
I'm Fabrice. And you are- ?

Man: Me?
" I'm Stéphane "
(collage section)


WE FIND TIME TO TALK A BIT DURING THE NIGHT . I ASK:(annotation: I insist on this clarification . Usually , you don't talk to a guy you met in the park .)
-HAVE YOU BEEN THIS WAY FOR LONG ?
-FOREVER I THINK .
-AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THIS ?
-DOING WHAT ?
-CRUISING ON THE RAMPARTS .
-SINCE I WAS THIRTEEN .


STEPHANE (annotation: He's a cook at the officer's mess) IS A YOUNG DRAFTEE . HE'S GOT A CREW CUT . RUN MY FINGERS THROUGH IT OFTEN . HE'S GOT A BEARD . HE'S ALMOST AS TALL (annotation: I'm six even)AS I AM . BUT EVEN THOUGH HE'S THIN TOO . HE'S A LOT STRONGER (annotation: Stéphane's legs are very well - built . his thighs especially) . IS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU'VE USED A CONDOM ? -DON'T LIKE THEM MUCH -YOU KNOW WHAT THE RISKS ARE STÉPHANE TURNS AWAY . HE DOESN'T ANSWER . HE DOESN'T CARE HE'S GOT A LITTLE LUC BESSON ABOUT HIM . THOUGH MUCH NICER . OF COURSE , AND ALSO A BIT OF STEPHEN CAFFREY . WHEN HE HAD A BEARD IN LONGTIME COMPANION


KUNDERA MAKES A DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE WOMEN YOU BED AND THE ONES YOU SLEEP WITH THE SAME GOES FOR MEN . I THINK . STÉPHANE IS THE FIRST MAN I'VE EVER WANTED TO SLEEP WITH SEVERAL TIMES . I ASK HIM TO LAY THE ENTRE WEIGHT OF HIS BODY AGAINST ME . HE ASKS -YOU LIKE IT WHEN IM ON TOP . IM NOT CRUSHING YOU ? -No . -IT MUST HURT EVENTUALLY . -WHEN I CANT BREATHE ANYMORE . I CAN HEAR EVERYTHING GOING ON IN YOUR BO DY YOUR BLOOD . YOUR HEART , EVERYTHING . -YOU LIKE IT WHEN IM CRUSHING YOU . WHY ? -DON'T KNOW . TO FEEL SOMETHING . I GUESS .

(annotation by image of Stephane: Stephen Caffrey . in Longtime Companion . The photo doesn't do him justice . Photos never do)

Annotation next to listing name and phone number and "Happy Birthday!"
AT SEVEN AM . WE EXCHANGE NUMBERS (I HATE THIS MOMENT)



I CALLED STÉPHANE A MONTH LATER . HE SEEMED REALLY EMBARRASSED .

HE WANTED TO SEE ME AGAIN . BUT JUST AS A FRIEND .

IT UPSET ME .

I DON'T SEE HIM AGAN FOR FIVE MONTHS .

I FORGOT HIM . BUT I DIDN'T MAKE LOVE UNTIL I SAW HIM AGAIN LESS THAN THREE MONTHS AGO . LAST JULY .
WE TALK IN HIS CAR . IT'S NOT AN AX ANYMORE . BUT A 205 .

Fabrice: You changed rides ?

Stéphane: Yeah . The other one's in pieces . All smashed up

[Frame]
AFTER HALF AN HOUR TELL HIM I LIKE HIM THAT I'D LIKE TO TRY SEEING HIM .

Fabrice: Oh ! What happened ?

Stéphane: I got distracted for a second . ran into a tree .

[Frame]
I DON'T TELL HMI LOVE HIM . NOT AFTER ONE NIGHT TOGETHER . AND FIVE MONTHS APART . No.

Fabrice: You really like living dangerously . don't good

Stéphane: Not really

[Frame]
DON'T TELL HIM I LOVE HIM . No. THAT WOULD BE COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS .

I LIKE STÉPHANE . THAT'S ALL

MEANWHILE , ALAN HAS JUST FINISHED HIS MILITARY SERVICE AND WE'VE BEGUN WORK ON THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS

Stéphane: Na I don't think it'd work out . But we can be friends .

[Frame]
WE NOTICED A WHOLE BUNCH OF NUMEROLOGICAL CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ONE STATION AND THE NEXT . WE DEVISED AN ENTIRE SYSTEM OF SYMBOLIC REMINDERS AND CROSS - REFERENCES TO HIGHLIGHT THEM A REAL EXEGESIS !

OF COURSE . WITH THE FIRST BRUSHSTROKE .

WE REALIZED THAT OUR PRETTY THEORY DOESN'T HOLD WATER .
THE REAL PROBLEM REMAINS HOW DO YOU PAINT THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS TODAY ?

How Do YOU PANT CHRIST'S BODY ?

sketch from 1791 at the cathedral

[Frame]
GIVING CHRIST A FACE SOON CONFRONTED US WITH THE PROBLEM OF HIS REPRESENTATION .

guy 1: Shit ! That's awful!

guy 2: St - Sulpice to the bone! If do that . we're losers !

IT PLUNGED US BACK INTO ISSUES TIED TO ALL REPRESENTATIONS THE IMAGE AND ITS STATUS . ETC.

[Frame]
IN FACT . IT LET US GET BACK TO OUR MAIN INTERESTS . THE ONES THE ARMY AND UNEMPLOYMENT , RESPECTIVELY . HAD MADE US FORGET .

[Frame]
BIT BY BIT . IT ALL FELL INTO PLACE . WE EVEN GOT TO USE OUR EARLY DISCOVERIES .

STAGE 2:
Jesus takes up his cross > 1st contact with the cross !
Establish similarities in composition , even colors . between 2 and II

STAGE 11 > 1 + 1 = 2
Jesus is nailed to the cross > 2nd contact with the cross !

WE STILL CANT QUITE TELL WHERE THIS IS ALL GOING .

[Frame]
BUT IT'S GOING . AND IT'S NOT ALL JUST TALK .

Stéphane: I think doing a diary in comic form is a very good idea .

[Frame]
Stéphane: It'd be a break from all those crappy fantasy comics . But it'd be good if ....

Stéphane: If you went even further than everything that's been tried in the genre

Stéphane: No disguises . no holding back , talked about everything ...

Fabrice: Well . I'll try .

[Frame]
Stéphane: Don't try .

Stéphane: DO IT ! Everything I've seen before has seemed timid. Things get dressed up or left out or barely shown ...
Stéphane: We're afraid of revealing too much about ourselves and our loved ones . We're afraid of embarrassment We're cautious . So we speak from a proud height in the past tense , as if the narrator were now a wise man on a mountain .

Stéphane: We look back on the past , feigning reserve , as if all that were of little importance in the end , as though our lives and everything that hurt us so much before

Stéphane: had only served a greater purpose . which we now speak from . And we forget the times we told ourselves

Stéphane: I've never had it this bad . I've never hurt so much . We forget We forget , because we're not there anymore . We forget . because instead of living life . we draw lessons from it

Stéphane: In all I've seen and read most have given me the impression of being described from on high after lessons were drawn .

Stéphane: Few have really plunged me into that icy terror the author must've felt ..... but maybe I haven't been reading the good ones .

Stéphane: I hope you'll be one of the good ones !

WELL .

IF EVERYONE KEEPS TELLING ME TO KEEP A DIARY . I MAY WIND UP STARTING ONE .

BUT IT SCARES ME . I DON'T THINK WE'VE COME UP WITH ANYTHING BETTER THAN A DIARY FOR DISCREDITING OURSELVES IN OTHER PEOPLE'S EYES .

From Le journal, by Fabrice Neaud. Published 1996 by Ego Comme X. Copyright 1996 by Ego Comme X. By arrangement with the publisher. Rights arranged through Nicolas Grivel. Translation copyright 2010 by Edward Gauvin. All rights reserved.

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