“Look at me! Look at me carefully! Can’t you see anything? Now you will see!” With this words, a young man in Oriental clothes catches the attention of both the panel and the audience on the scene of a competition for true – or almost true – stories in a theatre at the end of the Nineteenth century. On the stage with him there is a charming girl wearing a kimono: it’s Tomo, his partner for life. In front of a fascinated audience, the young Tomé tells a story of love and adventures, developing through a succession of compelling episodes: the shipwreck in Asia, the death of the sailor – his father –, the welcome of an old and blind samurai that becomes his master, his love for Tomo, the old man’s daughter, the invisible island of the frightful Demon Warriors against whom he is forced to fight, the dragon that cuts his hand off…
Love, exoticism, fights and a fascinating Oriental discipline typified by strength and wisdom are at the basis of an eventful adventure, rich in suspense, where the vivacious narrative talent of Fred Bernard is deployed at its best. Following the self-confident developing of the story between the present time in the theatre and the dimension of memory, the wonderful images by François Roca alternate equally fascinating interiors and exteriors. The plastic sensuality of the young bodies (especially the exquisite tattoos on the skin of beautiful Tomo), the refined Oriental clothes, the wide range of the Japanese landscapes and the blazing darkness of the cave ravaged by violence draw on a dazzling and wide palette and once more prove Roca’s exemplary skills in the use of lights and shades.
Fred Bernard was born in Burgundy. A great lover of nature, he could have become a veterinarian or an explorer hadn’t he won the competition to enter the Fine Arts Academy of Beaune. He subsequently followed the courses of the Émile Cohl school in Lyon where, in 1991, he met François Roca, who was to become a friend and a collaborator. In 1994 Fred Bernard lived in England for one year, where he got along with small jobs and made hundreds of sketches. In 1996 he published his first illustrated books for children. He wrote and illustrated Mon ami crocodile for Albin Michel Jeunesse, illustrated Warf, le pirate with P.H. Turin for Seuil Jeunesse, and wrote La Reine des fourmis a disparu for Albin Michel Jeunesse, a book translated into images by François Roca and winner of several awards (Goncourt jeunesse 1997, Sorcière prize 1996, prize Jérôme Main prize). Since then, he has published one or two books a year with François and L’Arche de Nino with his friend Nino Ferrer. He has drawn his passion for reading and writing from writers who dealt with travels – J. Conrad, H. Melville, J. London, E. Hemingway, R. Gary. Taking inspiration from his memories, encounters and travels, Fred Bernard imagines lively and compelling characters and singular stories that are interesting for both adults and children. In May 2001, back from Africa, he embarked on creating comics (La Tendresse des crocodiles, L’Ivresse du poulpe, Lily Love Peacock and, more recently, La Patience du Tigre). An untiring and curious storyteller, he loves to try out any kind of writing and plays with his models in order to better reinvent them.
François Roca was born in Lyon. He studied in Paris at the École Nationale des Arts Appliqués Olivier de Serres and in Lyon, at the Émile Cohl school. After obtaining his diploma in 1993, he devoted himself to painting for some time, and then exclusively focused on illustration. He mainly illustrates the texts of his mate Fred Bernard, with whom he builds an imaginary universe that renews itself book after book. This “pen-brush” association, which is quite unusual in children’s publishing, allows him to approach themes that are rarely dealt with. A book in particular has marked a turning point in the collaboration: Jésus Betz, which was awarded the Baobab prize 2001 and the Goncourt Jeunesse 2002. This granted the two artists the freedom to tell stories meant for adults: L’Homme-Bonsaï, L’Indien de la tour Eiffel… Within urban architectures and unpolluted natural landscapes, François loves to create characters closely resembling those who made him dream when he was a child, whom he saw at the cinema or on TV. François also designs covers for novels and magazines. A disciple of the painters that he loves and admires, he pays them homage in his books by quoting them through allusions or transpositions that build bridges between artists (E. Fromentin, E. Hopper, F. Remington, J.W. Waterhouse, N.C. Wyeth, Vermeer, L.A. Tadema, D. Cornwell, J.L. Gérome…). Literary and film references often enrich his works, which are typified by excellent effects of light and shade.
|Dimensions||cm 22,0 x 30,0|
|La bella figlia del Samurai||Oggi.it||www||29-05-2015|