The collection "They made History" dedicated to the great figures of History dedicates a volume to Joan of Arc whose epic changed the course of the Hundred Years War! A comic strip in which the reader follows Charles VII in his introspection and his reflections on the one who made him the legitimate sovereign of the Kingdom of France. This historical comic book is completed by a dossier produced by historian Murielle Gaude-Ferragu.
A historical comic book popularizing the epic of Joan
The big plus of this collection is to systematically offer the reader a small historical file which allows a smooth transition from fictionalized comics to popularized history. For Joan of Arc, the file was entrusted to Murielle Gaude-Ferragu, lecturer in medieval history at the University of Paris-13 Sorbonne-Paris-Cité, author of several books: Reine au Moyen-Age (France, 14th century) Fifteenth century). The feminine power and Gold and ashes. Death and funeral of princes in the late Middle Ages. The historian also played the game of popularization on television by participating in the “Secret d'Histoire” devoted to Louis IX.
This time, the mission was to summarize the Johannine epic in four illustrated pages, which is not much. The result is a very event-driven and linear story, undoubtedly essential for the neophyte, but a little quick for the history lover who would have liked a little more in-depth, especially on the "miraculous" aspects (for example on the discovery sword). A map judiciously supports the point and allows the reader to follow the adventure.
Jeanne, between history and fiction
Several comics have already rubbed shoulders with the character, with varying degrees of success (see our previous reviews). Here the choice was made to present the story of the young girl of Donrémy through the eyes of King Charles VII who, on the occasion of the capture of Rouen in 1449, looks back on the one who had him consecrated and whom he allowed to perish. in this city. From flashback to retrospectives, the whole story of Jeanne is told to us in an epic way. Indeed, the screenwriter does not deny the genre of the epic and sometimes takes a few liberties with History, as when the Maid is surrounded by Baudricourt's hunting dogs, who have become gentle as lambs. The graphics are also quite free and the designer preferred to represent Jeanne with a small square more feminine than the masculine bowl cut she had decided to wear. There are also vignettes strongly inspired by history painting and pious images of the 19th century (Jules Eugène Lenepveu, Jean-Jacques Scherrer ...): the iconography of the capture of Orleans, of the entry into the city (reused here for entry into Reims) or the Battle of Patay (reused here for the Battle of Jargeau) is very traditional. If Jeanne's sword remains blank with all blood (to stick to her words), she is constantly at the heart of the fray, sometimes exaggerating a little the fury side as when she receives a crossbow bolt in Orleans, is l 'tear off and continue as if nothing had happened. In reality, Jeanne, wounded, was taken to the rear, cried, confessed, was treated and dressed before resuming the fight. The screenwriter also uses a few narrative shortcuts and is forced to embroider and invent for the passages for which we do not have sources. All these elements are inevitably detrimental for a comic strip which is intended to be historical, however a large part of these artistic choices, these narrative biases are clearly explained in a making-of of three pages. This explanation of the work behind the shop could certainly have been a little more extensive, but we must salute this approach full of honesty which puts the comic in its place: a literary and artistic work resuming a historical destiny and not a historical work to be taken at face value. The making of and the historical record re-establish some truths and the reader, taken with a taste for heroin, is redirected to specialized works through a small bibliography of recognized authors (Boucheron, Beaune, Contamine ...).
Ultimately, we have here an epic and artistic literary work imbued with the imagination and iconography of the Johannine epic without going into a form of recovery or into far-fetched interpretations as we have sometimes seen. in the middle of the ninth art.
A small comic book to take for what it is, an entertainment and a first hook for the neophyte. And why not read it during a short trip in the footsteps of Joan, in order to compare the drawings of Ignacio Noé with the historical monuments still standing that he represented (the fortress of Chinon, the church of Notre-Dame -la-Grande in Poitiers ...)?
Screenplay: Jérôme le Gris
File: Murielle Gaude-Ferragu
Design & Colors: Ignacio Noé
Editions: Glénat / Fayard