cover image Pascin

Pascin

Joann Sfar. Uncivilized (Consortium, dist.), $25 (200 pages) ISBN 978-0-9846814

French cartoonist and director Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat, Gainsbourg) investigates the life of Julius Mordecai Pincas, better known as Pascin: a notorious womanizer, alcoholic, and spendthrift, but a remarkably gifted painter of the early 20th century. Sfar’s dream-like comic follows Pascin as he roams through Paris and hangs out with lowlifes, lovers, prostitutes, and other artists, such as Marc Chagall and Chaim Soutine. He attracts many women, but is not interested in sleeping with them: “I’d rather have you in a drawing than for real.” Pascin and his crowd’s total instability in romance, finance, or anything outside of art is troubling, but Sfar wades into such heavy issues as the strangeness of desire, artistic depiction versus reality, and Jewish identity. And Sfar does not shy away from shocking, explicit details, such as Pascin’s preteen visit to a brothel. The art shifts wonderfully throughout, adjusting to the moment and the tone of whoever is in Pascin’s orbit (in a delightful touch, Sfar’s depiction of Chagall echoes the painter’s own style). Sfar is a superstar in French cartooning circles, and this is another example of why. Agent: Nicolas Grivel Agency (Dec.)