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Graphic Literature

Factproof

By Jake Raynal
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
Graphic novelist Jake Raynal takes a sardonic look at the flexibility of facts.
Jake Raynal's New Unsolved Cases
Factproof
To shield themselves from accusations of prurient interest, true crime reporters...
Must take care to handle the most gruesome cases with the utmost rigor.
As a result, three concerns obsess us.
1. Protect the innocent: the victims, but also the unjustly accused.
2. Respect the rights of those convicted or presumed guilty.
3. Get readers in a lather with max suspense and sordid details.
Take, for example, the Chafrot affair, a case so sensitive and painful...
...As to call for, from the journalist, the greatest caution...
And the strictest exactitude.
For even today, no one can say what happened that day in October, 1982...
...In St-Geniez in the Gironde.
Sorry, I meant March ’76, in Avignon.
The murder of Albert Chaprot's widow Elizabeth, his third wife...
And mother of five children.
Pardon me, I meant the death of the Chaprot twins, respectively aged—
Oh wait, no... they just vanished.
In April ’74, in Issoire, in the Poitou.
Their bodies were found in a quarry in the middle of London.
Clues were few.
But all fingers pointed to the gardener...
Sorry, the cook of the chateau, who took credit and mocked investigators.
DNA samples taken at his home...
His closeness to the victim, whose lover he was...
His prints on the dog's body.
It all conspired toward a tragedy that touched us most deeply.
Because it was about a woman wrongly accused.
And the word of little children who'd been abused.
Sorry, little dogs.
Um.
A certain confusion seems to have afflicted the research I've gathered on the Chaprot case.
Who cares? It's still an explosive story.
Before Pierre Bellemare and Christophe Hondelatte...
The godfather of crime reporting was the American Truman Capote.
His 1966 "nonfiction novel" In Cold Blood, a gripping dive into the heart of a terrible quadruple murder...
...Forever changed the way readers view criminal investigations.
Incognito, he infiltrated the little farming community of Holcomb, Kansas.
Capote grasped the reality of evil's irruption with unparalleled accuracy.
He ended up befriending one of the accused...
And kept him company until his execution...
...Bearing witness to the actors in the tragedy with an empathy unequaled to this day.
As far as French crime reporting, there's a B.G and an A.G.: Before Gregory, and After.
In 1984, the unsolved murder of young Gregory plunged France into horror.
In the days that followed, reporters poured in from across the country and soon the whole world.
How many talented budding reporters blossomed and came into their own during the unprecedented media circus around the case?
Passionately chronicling each day, with a love for the job and for spreading information that was a joy to behold...
...A series of tragic events miraculous in their conjunction.
The child's death was a windfall, of a kind that occurs all too rarely.
But if the Gregory case fired imaginations, it was first and foremost thanks to those death threats.
Prophet—thing of evil! Bird or the devil! Despite years of investigation and a case file thousands of documents thick, the identity of that harbinger of doom remains unknown.
Especially since handwriting experts have come to no clear-cut conclusions about these letters.
I'LL KILL YUO ALL OF YOU VILLEMAINS
Their author took care to mask his hand or use capitals.
Helpful tip:
If you're writing an anonymous crank letter, consider writing in all caps.
YOU'RE ALL GONNA DIE YOU LOSERS
And no one will know it's you.
Unless, that is, you letter your own comics.
Marcel Gotlib?
Everything to be said about the Montigny-Les-Metz case has been said.
That is, except the name of the perpetrator.
Two years after Gregory, this double infanticide by stoning plunged the region into terror once more.
Failure was not an option this time.
For the police, finding a suspect was urgent.
Any suspect. Fast.
Before Patrick Dils, the police made two other people confess.
As well as a cow, a chair, and comics artist Yan Lindingre.
But all of them were cleared.
Young Dils, however, fit the profile of an ideal culprit right away.
Sickly and shy, barely older than the victims. Everything about him screamed: Capable of stoning 2 kids to death in under 2 minutes.
They sifted through every last detail of his fascinating life.
His love of philately, a sign of criminal obsession.
His rock collection, on the shelves of his bedroom.
Rocks and pebbles...makes sense, right?
Then, everything seemed to indicate he was never at the scene of the crime.
Which is more than suspect.
On the other hand, the presence of serial killer Francis Heaulme was confirmed. At the time, he was on a kind of Tour de France of crime.
For the press, which had once crucified Dils, it was a total reversal.
But when asked about the Montigny affair, he always denied it.
Why not believe him?
It didn't matter. They'd blame it on him.
Meanwhile, Dils is still out there.
Better an innocent man free than a guilty man in prison, right?
Er...
Another famous media uproar from the mid-‘90s:
The Jean-Claude Romand affair once again plunged the country into, uh...
A real nightmare.
The story of this medical student who'd failed his second year and masqueraded as a brilliant doctor...
...Lying to everyone: wife, parents, children, for over 20 years...
...Before his lies caught up to him and he iced his entire family.
Makes your blood run cold, don't it?
But it's not an isolated incident.
The compulsive liar as murderer fascinates us.
The tragically universal aspects of Jean-Claude Romand's trajectory touch us deeply.
Who hasn't murdered his whole family now and then?
Sorry, I meant, who hasn't told a whopper now and then?
Like most gruesome crimes, the case also reveals something of society's ills.
A society that's made material success the sole condition of happiness...
A society where, if you're not a brilliant doctor and researcher at the W.H.O., you're no one.
Actually, I happen to be a brilliant doctor and W.H.O. researcher.
It's everyone else I'm worried about.
Just kidding!
2013.
Romand was sentenced to life imprisonment, Dils was definitely cleared, Heaulme is serving three life sentences, and Gregory's soul, from out that shadow still at large, shall be lifted—nevermore!

© 2018 Jake Raynal. By arrangement with Fluide Glacial. Translation © 2019 by Edward Gauvin. All rights reserved.

English

© 2018 Jake Raynal. By arrangement with Fluide Glacial. Translation © 2019 by Edward Gauvin. All rights reserved.

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