Dated back to the era without any social media nor portable electronic gadgets, the pastime for children, especially for my generation (or even my parents’ and older) is mostly much about physical things, such as robots, small cars and trains, even video games for boys (also some outdoor sports such as ball games and running around the garden until our parents yell and stop us to be more behaved), but, one of my favorite pastime when I was a child, is to read comic books (even that’s another thing that my parents will forbid, along with TV cartoon hour), especially the ones from Japanese ‘manga’ which their drawings are very colorful, eccentric and funny storylines page after page, as a kid dated back then, it’s simply irresistible that one can spend almost an entire day to read them. As we get older, our reading materials has become more into the adult and commercial world - news (either local or global) and happenings around us more, which we almost abandon the kind of joy and innocence back in the childhood time, yes, growing up is necessary, hands down true, and by coincident, I recently found something that reminds me of that feeling – the youthful and a dreamy child, a fascination by a comic which I came across that stirs up my desire to read again after not reading a comic book seriously for more than decades, and it was a French comic book (not Japanese this time) titled ‘Guerlain Le Prince des parfums - Première époque’ by Pierre-Roland Saint-Dizier (script) and Li-An (drawing).
Published by one of the reputed French publisher, Glénat, this comic book is not solely the kind of book that only for kids, in fact, it’s a story about the legendary French perfume master, Mr. Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain, his story, biography and journey from a suburb French young boy to be a master perfumer, settling in Paris and creating his own legacy and household brand - as an artisan, an entrepreneur, a diplomat and even a family man, the story is relatively intriguing and moving. Not to mention, when reading a story about late 18th to 19th century France, the fashion is one of the thing that fascinates most of the reader, the impeccable way of dressing, the formality and demeanor dated back then, the fairy-tale like social scene that associates with the royalty and upper class elites, which recaptures the glamour and heydays of the French elegance back in those days, and the drawings with the characters, including the master perfumer himself, the comic artist has portrayed the fashion in a very detail way, that reminds me of how impeccable it is of a French gentlemen (and ladies too) looks like, and how they interact and socialize, with such grace and manners, that literally reminds me of how I become so obsessed with the French culture and fashion at the first place.
But most importantly, it’s the story that makes this book so fascinating, perhaps it resonates so much about my recently new launched fragrance, the journey of a young and passionate boy who strives to turn his dream into reality, facing different challenges, sometimes hard times by villains and unforeseeable accidents, but still, having a courage, conviction, positive and productive mindset to keep chasing, and running towards the goal, with creativity, innovation and audacity to make things happen and keep trying, such admirable qualities are not just an imaginary fiction character appeared in a form of comic, but it is a real story and giving a great lesson to remind us about the work and effort of a legend who put behind him, letting his work to precede himself but not just fame (as mentioned in the book as well), and a way to start cultivate a passion if one is truly want to create an art (or something artistic) and make his mark of his life.
Besides, this moving story about this perfume master’s life is not simply a comic book for children, but also a way of interpreting one of the most significant French savoir-faire – perfume making, for centuries that most of the French perfumers (and perfume artists) have made efforts to keep up this intangible yet valuable cultural asset, and at the same time, respecting the heritage and knowledge to let it flourish generation after generation.
Perhaps, this might be an ideal story book for you to read to your children (if you have) before going to bed, or, as your bedtime story book as an artisan bachelor, to recapture the joy and colors of your childhood time, at the same time, cultivate your inner artisanal self and manhood, by creating a remarkable legacy of your own, with your own art, passion, hard work and hands.
Image courtesy of Glénat Livres, France
About the authors:
Pierre-Roland Saint-Dizier – a French scriptwriter who debut with the first publication named ‘L’historie de l’Alsace’ in 2004, then subsequently having several books published included ‘Normandie’, ‘Paquebot de légende’. One of his well-known publication is the comic strips titled ‘Saint-Exupéry’ published by Glénat, which depicts the life of the author of The Little Prince from 1926 onwards.
Li-An – a French comic author who is well-recognized by his drawing work of ‘Le Cycle de Tschaï (2001 – 2008), followed by other publication titled ‘Fantômes Blancs’. Since 2010, the comic author had completed 2 volumes titled ‘Enquêtes insolites du maître de l’étrange’ by Vents d’Ouest, and, ‘Georges de la Tour’ by Glénat.