About 650,000 French were forced by the Vichy government to work in Nazi Germany, and one of them was a relative of the French screenwriter Julien Frey, so his story could not be forgotten and has been captured in the comic ‘Justin’, illustrated by cartoonist Pep Domingo.
After working together on the comic ‘The Filmmaker’, where they addressed Frey’s obsession to find ‘Le Grabuge’, the film shot in 1968 by French filmmaker Édouard Luntz, they now return with the first comic dedicated to the Compulsory Labor Service (STO ), a dark episode from World War II France. “Julien always asks me things that I don’t know, it happened to me with Lunzt. But this case is curious because it’s a family story of hers“, tells Efe Nadar, as the Castellón cartoonist Pep Domingo is known.
Specifically, it is the story of a relative of Frey’s wife, one of those French people who went, forced by the French Vichy Government, to a Nazi labor camp with the promise of returning in a year and thus, to On the other hand, the Reich returned to France a prisoner peasant (for every three workers one captured by the Nazis returned to the Gallic country). “In France this passage of its history is known, but it is on the margins, like all things of national shame, and the subject has not been treated much, for that reason the editors were very interested “, explains the illustrator.
A story that he liked “a lot”, so they got down to work to resurrect Justin in this comic (Astiberri). A work in which the reader will travel the Paris of those years in which its protagonist fell in love with Reneé, as well as the Henningsdorf countryside where he worked under extreme circumstances while dreaming of returning to his beloved. Sensations that these pages narrate, as well as discover all the thoughts, fears and frustrations that accompanied him until the 80s, when he died in Paris after many years before he managed to escape from that hell.
Narrated with “a lot of rigor”In this story of freedom, Nadar has had “very little room for imagination” to be true to everything they address. That is why he traveled to Paris and, with Frey’s hand, he toured the cafeteria that Julien’s family had, his neighborhood and other places that appear in comics. Of course, regarding the design of the characters, despite having a “blurry” photo of Julien and Reneé, they took “more freedom” because both authors are clear that when you draw “you have to make the story your own”.
As for the pages dedicated to the Nazi ordeal, Nadar explains that thanks to Frey’s help he has been able to recreate this space where bed bugs, hunger and cold were the companions of these French workers who have historically been labeled “collaborators” with the Nazi regime. “Julien has been very demanding and we have taken it very seriously to make it as reliable as possible,” he clarifies about the object of the comic, to bring out of oblivion that “generation of silence” that carried its past with “a deaf dignity and weird”.
Despite being drawn in black and white In order to follow the line started with ‘The filmmaker’, in the pages of ‘Justin’ there is a lot of color, that of the Paris of the parties, that of the kisses of lovers or the laughter that filled their small cafes. “When I started with the story Julien told me that everything he drew did not have to be very gray, but he thinks that at that time people laughed and danced, people were young and happy and put me in the right direction. characters that seem very tough were only 20 years old when this happened to them, they became adults before their time“, he regrets. Because when these men were taken from their dreams, life was” in color, “he says.
Currently Nadar (Castellón de la Plana, 1985) and Frey (Lagny-sur-Marne, France, 1977) meet immersed in another four-handed comic that “has to do with silent movies” and that will be “in color”, Nadar advances. In this way, they both strengthen a relationship of friendship and work because it will be the third work to come out of those minds and those hands. An alliance that Nadar (the total author of other works such as ‘Papel Estrujado’) finds “interesting” because “when the scriptwriters present you with stories, they pose challenges for you that you would not consider yourself”. “As a cartoonist I am learning many things, and his way of narrating mixes with mine. We put the script in common and there is a symbiosis of two narrative forms. The comics are 50% worked “, concludes the man from Castellón.