from the February 2007 issue
First published 1997 as La Bombe Familiale by L'Association. Copyright David B. By arrangement with L'Association. Translation copyright 2007 by Edward Gauvin. All rights reserved.
Artist, writer, editor, designer, the prolific David B. was born in Nîmes, France, in 1959. He is a key figure of the 1990s alternative movement that transformed contemporary French comics, and one of the seven founding members of L'Association. A lifelong fan of the fantastic, he is as known for his original work, which draws on folklore and mythology (The Armed Garden [Fantagraphics, 2011], Incidents of the Night [Uncivilized Books, forthcoming], as for his surreal dream journals (Le Cheval blême [L’Association, 1992], Nocturnal Conspiracies [NBM, 2008, trans. Joe Johnson]). His books also feature famous and forgotten fabulists: The Littlest Pirate King [Fantagraphics, 2010], adapted from a story by Pierre Mac Orlan, and in collaboration with Emmanuel Guibert, the superlative Le Capitaine Écarlate [Dupuis, 2000], which makes Borges forerunner Marcel Schwob into a figure of his own fantasies.
His most celebrated work remains the memoir L’Ascension du haut mal. Published in 6 volumes from 1996-2003, this autobiography of his imaginative development intertwines the stories of the author’s artistic growth and his difficult childhood, with his brother Jean-Christophe’s epilepsy and his family’s search for an effective treatment. In 2005, it was published in a single volume by Pantheon Books as Epileptic, in a translation by Kim Thompson.
His recent output has been marked by collaborations with such noted artists as Joann Sfar, Christophe Blain, and Hugues Micol, and nonfiction, including Black Paths [Self Made Hero, 2011, trans. Nora Mahony], his biography of Italian poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, and Best of Enemies [Self Made Hero, 2011, trans. Nora Mahony], a history of U.S.-Middle Eastern relations in collaboration with historian Jean-Pierre Filiu.
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
Edward Gauvin has received fellowships and residencies from PEN America, the NEA, the Fulbright program, the Lannan Foundation, and the French Embassy. His work has won the John Dryden Translation prize and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award, and been nominated for the French-American Foundation and Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prizes. Other publications have appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, Subtropics, World Literature Today, and Weird Fiction Review. The translator of almost 200 graphic novels, he is a contributing editor for comics at Words Without Borders.
Photo credit: Vince Passaro