In this copious autumn 2020 season, several albums by Quebec authors have stood out: the stunning The Bomb (Denis Rodier, Glénat); the poignant You have destroyed the beauty of the world (Christian Quesnel, Moelle Graphik); the astonishing Aliss (Jeik DIon, Cold Front/Brown Front); the incandescent Traces of moccasins (Louis Rémillard, Moelle Graphik). To this list is added the extraordinary KhiemThe motherland of Yasmine and Djibril Morissette Phan.
As a sign of its vitality, Quebecois comics, long closed in on themselves (mostly white, masculine and humorous), have finally opened up over the past two decades to different genres and aesthetics, in addition to taking an interest in our rich and mixed history. With the publication of Khiem at the Glénat Québec publishing house, she is creating one of her new masterpieces.
Inspired by the writings of their maternal grandmother – translated from Vietnamese by their mother – young Montreal artists Yasmine and Djibril Morissette Phan trace the thread of their origins. Born of a Quebecois father and a Vietnamese mother, these second-generation immigrants astonish by the maturity and virtuosity they demonstrate in this duty to remember that goes straight to our hearts.
Khiem tells the moving story of three generations of women: Khiêm (maternal grandmother who experienced war); Trang (mother of Yasmine and Djibril, a “boat people” who came here to rebuild her life); Yasmine (a young artist in her twenties, dependent on the sacrifice of her ancestor and her mother).
This account of the importance of transmission and the quest for identity prompts us to reconsider this need as a land of welcome to open up to others and to consider the blending of cultures as an inestimable richness.
Following their first collaboration in the short 8-page biographical account entitled The Botanical Garden of the Rues de Montréal collective, produced as part of the 375e anniversary of the metropolis, Yasmine and Djibril wanted to explore this vein further.
“When I wrote The Botanical GardenI didn’t have it in mind to give a voice to our community. All my creations are autobiographical,” explains Yasmine. “With KhiemHowever, we had a responsibility to our family, our roots,” adds Djibril.
Their loved ones have a lot to be proud of. For beyond this astounding sum of gentleness and invested love, their intimate story tends towards the universal. In the drawings, the young prodigy, who is barely 25 years old, already has numerous collaborations with the American publisher Marvel (Wolverine, Alpha Flight, Guardians of the Galaxy), in addition to a creation at Image Comics (Glitterbomb), and publications on behalf of European publishers (Cryptomonnais …published by Le Lombrad, The history of science fiction in comics to be published in the winter of 2021 by Les Humanoîdes Associés), a book of masterful black and white boards with undulating lines, reminiscent of the waves on which their mother sailed during her crossing to the dreamed-of Quebec.
It’s not only Khiem wins the Palme de l’album québécois de l’année, it acquires the status of instant classic.
Also to be read
Each new Gipi opus is an occasion for celebration. After the extraordinary post-apocalyptic fable The land of wiresThe Italian artist returns with the poignant tale of a fifty-year-old humorist trying to come to terms with his mother’s impending death. A vertiginous narrative mosaic to which he adds layers that seem to have no connection with each other at first glance, Gipi delivers a moving universal fable whose finale – in which all the elements converge – deserves a standing ovation.