For those who know me or we have just followed this blog, you are aware that I am very fond of autobiographical comics, and especially of Fabrice Neaud, a French author who got huge critical acclaim publishing 4 volumes of autobiographical comics in the late 1990s and the early 2000s (he is working on more books...).
It should come as no surprise then that I have been very happy to learn that the latest issue of European Comic Art (March 2021) has published a long discussion between Fabrice Neaud and Jean-Christophe Menu, one of the (if not "the") godfathers of French-speaking indendepent comics since the early 1990s: He created one of the leading publishers of French independant comics (L'Association, which published, among many other masterpieces, Epileptic by David B and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi) and wrote a few masterpieces in this field (such as Livret de Phamille).
This discussion, entitled (simply and rather sadly) "Autobiography: An autopsy" is available online here: https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/eca/14/1/eca140104.xml
The exchange is not new, since it dates back to 2006 and was originally published in French a few years ago. But it is not oudated at all. Jean-Christophe Menu and Fabrice have known each other for years now. They are familiar with each other's works and share many views on the fate of autobiographical comics. In this email discussion, Jean-Christophe Menu inveighs against the deterioration of comics autobiography into a formulaic ‘genre’. Fabrice Neaud states that the autobiographical enterprise is necessarily a dangerous. He details the criticisms that have been made of his work (‘egotistical’, or formally over-conservative) and laments the tendency to equate artless scribbles with ‘sincerity’. Menu regrets that a distanced and selective portrayal of family life can be read as invasive of privacy, with devastating legal consequences. As usual with them, ideas are rich and flow easily.
All in all, 28 pages of very interesting talk on autobiographical comics. Enjoy!