The Total corporation—jewel in the crown of the French economy—maintains a presence in many countries across the globe, wherever there are fossil fuels to exploit. To do so, it hires locals, but also French employees with expatriate contracts lasting an average of two years. Two years in westernized surroundings, with housing, a company car, and schooling for their children in comfortable conditions and their own language.
That’s how there came to be a small Gallic village perched on three verdant hills in the town of Balikpapan, Borneo. It was the Total compound, a group of houses and buildings with a school for expat children in the middle. For three weeks, my job was to teach them the basics of drawing and the wondrous alchemy involved in making a comic.
My days were mostly spent in schools. I’d visit classes and give my spiel to kids who were usually thrilled to see me, and who still thought, luckily enough, that drawing was fun.
From Le Paradis . . . en quelque sorte (90 jours à Bornéo). Published 2008 by Futuropolis. Copyright 2008 by Futuropolis. By arrangement with the publisher. Rights arranged through Nicolas Grivel for the Sylvain Coissard Agency, France. Translation copyright 2009 by Edward Gauvin. All rights reserved.
Troub's was born in 1969, in Pessac. He studied fine arts in Toulouse and d' Angouleme. He lives in the Dordogne and travels widely. A contemplative artist, in love with nature and animals, he has published numerous books about his travels in China, Australia, Madagascar, and elsewhere.
has received prizes, fellowships, and residencies from PEN America, the National Endowment for the Arts
, the Fulbright
program, Ledig House, 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
, and Subtropics
. The translator of more than 250 graphic novels, he is a contributing editor for comics at Words Without Borders,
and has written on the Francophone fantastic at Weird Fiction Review
Photo credit: Vince Passaro