"'Bambi' is the story of the stateless"

Madrid, Dec 17 (EFE) .- Published in 1923, and persecuted years later by the Nazis for considering it a "political allegory on Jewish treatment in Europe", "Bambi" by Felix Salten continues to be a "powerful" work for the illustrator Benjamin Lacombe, who considers this to be the story of the "stateless."

Considered one of the most recognized cartoonists, the Parisian returns with this work (Edelvives) because he feels, he tells Efe, that the story of this defenseless but brave fawn (brought to world fame by Disney) is a necessary story in our days.

"I think we are living," he explains, "in an increasingly divided world, colored by extremism of a religious nature and new forms of anti-Semitism and racism. What I was clear about was that I did not want to address it directly and from a historical perspective because the public when they are younger it bores them a lot because they think they already know everything (obviously not, quite the contrary, they have no idea) "

For this reason, Lacombe's "Bambi" (1982) has a clear objective: that readers experience in their skin "what it feels like to be persecuted, when you are the object of oppression.

Because that is what Salten, the father of the child, felt during the Nazi years, since they considered that it was "an allegory of anti-Semitism" because the author was Jewish "and had suffered the anti-Semitic waves that hit Europe in the decade of the twenties, "he explains.

However, Lacombe clarifies, "Bambi" goes further, it is a fable about persecution in the broadest sense of the word: "it is about the oppression that someone suffers because of where you come from or because you do not have a place to feel. sure".

"Salten," he clarifies, "chose the deer because they don't have a shelter to stay in. This story of our society tells of stateless immigrants, as Jews were in their day. In addition, it is a book about nature and how we are connected," as human beings, with the deer, the tree, the grass. "

As the Parisian illustrator recalls, "Bambi" is a story he learned as a child, like almost everyone else, and which he "rediscovered" as an adult: "when just a few years ago I came across Felix Salten's masterpiece, my jaw dropped It has such a powerful narrative, it is a true masterpiece that appears powerful, as when it was first published in 1923. "

A first edition of which many copies were burned, so finding these copies is very difficult. But also a story that, he regrets, "fell into oblivion" when in 1942 Disney released its version.

In this sense, Lacombe acknowledges that it has not been difficult for him to escape from Disney iconography when approaching his work because, despite considering it a "true icon of pop culture", he has been "faithful to the text to time to illustrate "so that he can have his own personal interpretation. "You don't have to compare your work to anyone else's," he says.

Accustomed to books where his characters are almost always women or girls of powerful fragility, Lacombe has faced for the first time a book without the presence of humans and no female characters. A "real challenge" for him because this work has taken him out of his "comfort zone".

So much so that in this "Bambi" the Frenchman has taken a leap by turning everything that appears in these pages into authentic characters, as is the case of the forest.

"I have had to capture the forest, the wood or the fur. I have worked thoroughly on the lights and shadows, and on the textures. I have used the gouache and oil technique, resorting to a more colorful palette compared to the one I usually do use. I also wanted to use a more lively line with movement, "he concludes.

Pilar Martin


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