Translator: Joe Johnson
Published by: Bamboo
Sisters: The Set-Up and Story
“Sisters” is a collection of one page gags. Specifically, it is about two sisters who get along despite getting on each other’s nerves. Yes, it’s the trope of the older sister (Wendy) being both embarrassed by her younger sister’s (Maureen) energetic antics while at the same time loving the little scamp and having fun with her when nobody is looking. Their parents are only ever seen from behind or far away, it looks like. This is the girls’ book.
It’s a lot of bickering and picking on each other and giving each other a hard time, in general. But there’s just enough warmth and love in there to make it palatable. Anyone with siblings will understand that dynamic.
Christophe Cazenove’s scripts make perfect little sit-com stories. The two girls at first glance might feel like two dimensional characters, but those simple character types help to sell the short format gags he’s writing. And he can get even bigger laughs or other emotional reactions when he goes against those types, infrequently. But most of all, the stories rely on that family dynamic that, again, I think a lot of people can relate to, whether it’s in their own family or from seeing it in their friends’ families growing up.
The stories are modern, including humor about smart phones and tablets. The older sister, Wendy, is a little boy crazy and does have a boyfriend. There’s an extended sequence of gags in this volume about an Italian exchange student who lives with them for the summer, but turns out not to be a great house guest. Wendy obsesses about visiting America in the same way my daughter obsesses over visiting Paris. (We’re not all that much different, are we?)
The sisters are equal parts charming and maddeningly frustratingly annoying. In other words, they’re kids. But they’re cute and well drawn, so they’re interesting to read.
The Art of William
William has a great animation-friendly style. It combines a Disney influence with a Bill Watterson influence with a lot of Franco-Belgian cartooning, in general. The characters dress like real teenagers and kids would. They don’t have a single uniform for every page. The teenager goes for trendier looks, while the younger one is a little crazier and brighter. It all helps to sell the series as being more relatable to a younger demographic that makes up this series’ target audience.
The one interesting thing that William does with the book is to Photoshop pictures into his art. It’s usually for little bits of verisimilitude, like the boy band or Justin Bieber posters on the wall, or the American flag pattern on a beach towel. It’s distracting, to be honest, and I’d prefer he didn’t do them, but I bet it appeals to the younger audience. I’m a purist in cartooning, though. I want as much as possible to be organic.
I love the little cartoonist touches, like the bouncy lines that indicate motion, as above where Wendy is walking in circles. See also the bouncy lines indicating Maureen’s joyous exit a few images above.
The colors are soft and simple, just straight shading with no textures or gradients. The fanciest it gets is when William colors a shiny highlight into hair.
This will take a little explaining…
“Les Sisters” is a fairly long-running series in France that sees its life first in the pages Bamboo Magazine. Bamboo has published 11 volumes so far. The series has sold over a million copies and has been turned into an animated series in France that debuted last month.
In North America, Papercutz has the rights to the series and publishes it in English as “The Sisters.” So far, they’ve published the first three volumes of the series in dead tree print. The fourth volume is due in December 2017.
They also publish those volumes digitally through comiXology
It appears that Papercutz is not publishing things in the same order as the French editions. The cover for Papercutz’ fourth volume, for example, is the cover of the seventh volume of the series in French by Bamboo. The good news is, the order doesn’t matter so much with this series. The characters stay the same age and bicker throughout. There’s no continuity. It’s a gag-a-page and all is good.
This eighth volume I’m reviewing here comes via Bamboo on Izneo. It is the only English language edition of the series available digitally where Papercutz doesn’t distribute. It looks like Bamboo put it up on there at a time before Papercutz bought the English language license.
Bamboo doesn’t do translations on their own, sadly, and they are not part of the EuropeComics collective. They appear to be letting Papercutz do the translation work for them. I wish they were more pro-active in this regard, but I’m obviously biased in that direction. They might not see the market need for it yet. I might have to do another post for some recommendations of their catalog I’d like to see in English…
Yes, I think it’s a sweet, well drawn book. There are hints of Watterson’s influence in there. The character designs are attractive and well animated, particularly with the younger sister.
(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #78.)
One Quick Tangent
There’s a French YouTube channel that’s videos of kids acting out scenes from various BD. Here’s a “The Sisters”-inspired video:
You can also find short videos ripped from the pages of Titeuf, Les Profs, and Ducoboo.
Not a bad idea, actually. I don’t know what the copyright situation is. Do they have permission to do these from the publisher? Is it just kids being cute on YouTube, so why bother harassing them? Is this an official school project? The “About” page on the channel is vague.
One Final Tangent
The creators of “The Sisters” also collaborate on another strip about zombies and other cemetery-based monsters! Called “tizombie,” it runs in the same “Bamboo Mag” that “The Sisters” came through. One collection is currently available in French.
William draws good looking monsters, as it turns out. I also love those zig zag balloon tails.
Buy It Now
The Amazon link is to the Papercutz print editions. The comiXology link will take you to their “Sisters” page for all of Papercutz’s digital comics. Izneo’s link will take you to this specific English language book. Amazon will link out to the first volume of the Papercutz edition.