Philippe Caza’s Surreal Suburbia

C’est un fou qui repeint son plafond et un autre fou arrive et lui dit: « Accroche-toi au pinceau, j’enlève l’échelle!

Marcel (and the hapless Yvonne) meet the Homo-Detritus. From Pilote no. 47-bis (April, 1978)

Poor Marcel Miquelon: a simple suburban nobody, he merely wants to get a good night’s sleep, but it’s never in the cards. When he and his Yvonne go to bed, each night at 10, some din from above invariably keeps him awake and frustrated. So what can he do but seize his faithful broom by the handle and bang on the ceiling to manifest his discontent? And dreadful things happen, in increasingly byzantine shades of dreadfulness.

These loosely-connected vignettes appeared sporadically from 1975 to 1979, under the portmanteau heading of Scènes de la vie de banlieue in the French monthly Pilote (1974-1989). They were the brainchild of Philippe Cazaumayou, alias Caza (b. November 14, 1941, Paris), also a renowned science-fiction illustrator, which should certainly surprise no-one.

CazaPlafond01ACazaPlafond02ACazaPlafond03ACazaPlafond04AThis episode is titled Toujours du bruit au plafond (« Still some noise on the ceiling »); it originally saw print in Pilote Mensuel no. 34 (March, 1977). It’s the rare (possibly the only) one that ends peacefully for Marcel, perhaps because he didn’t bother with the broom. Better St. Peter than… well, everything else.

*One of the hoariest French jokes, everyone’s heard it, and its appeal has whirled countless times around the bend, deep into irony and meta-subtext. Thankfully, though, it’s actually translatable, at least verbally: A lunatic is painting the ceiling. Another madman comes along and says: « Hold on to the brush, I’m borrowing the ladder! »

A ‘Scènes de la vie de banlieue’ collection (Dargaud, 1982). I agree: for all he’s gone through, Marcel Miquelon does deserve his own statue.
The collected works (Les Humanoïdes associés, 2017)


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