“You’re going to ruin your eyes under that mattress!”

In 1943, Albert Chartier, a French-Canadian cartoonist and illustrator (and commonly accepted as the father of Québec’s “bande dessinée“), was offered the chance of creating his own comic strip for the “Bulletin des agriculteurs” (Farmers’ Bulletin). Thus began Onésime, Chartier’s most popular and enduring œuvre.

Onésime was the perfect strip for the Bulletin’s audience: inspired by life in rural areas of Québec (in particular, picturesque Saint-Jean-de-Matha), it was a charming chronicle of the countryside. It lasted all the way until 2002 (it is said that four generations of Québecois learned to read with Onésime!), and reflected the changes in Quebec’s social landscape, making it a priceless historical document as well an as excellent comic.


This strip (originally published in November 1959) was scanned from Drawn & Quarterly #5 (August 2003). As far as I know, D&Q’s 47 pages of “Albert Chartier – a Retrospective” is the only existing English version of Onésime (the French-to-English translation is credited to Helge Dascher; the redrawn letters, to Dirk Rehm).

While Onésime is Chartier’s best known work, here’s something that’s even harder to come by for your enjoyment – a strip in which Kiki gets carried away. You can meet Kiki in “Une piquante petite brunette” (roughly translated to “a spicy little brunette”), a beautifully done, quite entertaining collection of previously unpublished Chartier strips about a young woman’s adventures (Les 400 coups, 2008).


~ ds

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