Crossing Borders: Madame Pipi And The Excess Of Human Nature


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A new creator rises from Belgium’s pool of talent with a misanthropic view on life plus free webcomics from Bastien Vivés.


Set up as the premiere web portal for French digital comics, Delitoon offers creators space for serialized comics. Their mission statement is to prove that comics still matter in these digital times , a statement I can only share. Delitoon offers work by superb creators with Bastien Vivés manga serial Last Man leading the way.

Check out Delitoons right here and here are some stand outs:

Pills by  Guillaume Singelin & Antoine Ozanam

The manic Le Fléau Vert by Michaël Sanlaville

Last Man by Bastien Vivés

Madame Pipi by Delphine Frantzen

One can do far worse than have your final exam project published as your first graphic novel by one of Belgium’s leading innovators and discoverer of talent like Brecht Evens, Jeroen Janssen and Randall C. Delphine Frantzen hit the jackpot with Madame Pipi which was not only tutored by Judith Vanistendael but also immediately published by Oogachtend. But how does her debut album hold up amidst all that graphic talent in the publisher’s portfolio?

Madame Pipi performs a lot more than simply taking care of the lavatory facilities. Desperate clubbers air their hopes, dreams and desperations on her sanitary sofa. Together with her eternal companion, a duck, she deals in dreams. But reality is a nightmare from which there’s no awakening...

Frantzen tries to mix gallows humour with a bit of social satire in Madame Pipi. By juxtaposing the relatively relaxed attitude on life madame Pipi takes, settled in her low wage job and the manic energy of the clubbers, adrift in life and love, Frantzen tries to tell us something about... and here’s the problem... about what exactly? It never becomes clear just what exactly the author wants to reveal about human nature except maybe for the fact that it is incorrigible and doomed to self-excess. An outlook on life that can rival Kierkegaard and Heidegger. But the last two were a bit more versed in the ways of peeling away the layers of human nature.

There aren’t any laugh-out-loud moments in Madame Pipi but it’s gallows humour so that can be forgiven, I did have a few good smirks though. Unfortunately the characters remain to much of a cipher. Madame Pipi aka Marieke functions only as a narrative vehicle, jumping from one tormented situation to another and her fate at the end of the book and final fate of her companion duck comes across as a Deus Ex Machina with the pure intend to shock and nothing more.

Redemption lies in Frantzen’s illustrative skills. As is the fashion these days with the likes of Vanistendael and Brecht Evens having paved the way, she draws with colour but does it rather well. Green and pink clouds form panel borders, indicating setup and providing clues as to the motivations and resultant actions of characters. It is refreshing to see colour used as a drawing tool instead of simply filling in the blanks. Her linework seems to be a healthyix of (once more) Vanistendael’s recent sketchy style and a toned down Craig Thompson which is quite alright in my book. Her figurework and stances could use a bit more attention but being 25 and this being her first OGN, I’m sure she’ll only improve over time.

There’s certainly stuff to like in Madame Pipi but the main attraction would be the art and the colorwork. Delphine Frantzen’s misanthropic view on life fails to rise to the occasion with an ending that not only uses  a sledgehammer to get the point across but also leaves out any tension in the story arc. If she manages to collate her ideas into a solid story with some nice character work, her next book will certainly be one to watch out for.

Madame Pipi by Delphine Frantzen is published by Oogachtend. It is a full colour graphic novel counting 76 pages and retails for €15.

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