Delisle, Guy 1966–
Delisle, Guy 1966–
PERSONAL: Born January 19, 1966, in Canada; married; children: one son.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Drawn & Quarterly, P.O. Box 48056, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2V 4S8.
CAREER: Writer, artist, animator, and cartoonist. Worked as an animator for CinéGroupe, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for a studio in Munich, Germany, and for Dupuis-Animation and Proté-Créa in Canada.
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (graphic memoir), translated by Helge Dascher, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2005.
Author of "Inspectuer Moroni" comic series. Contributor to periodicals and comic-book series, such as Lapin, Réflexion, Shenzhen, Poisson Pilote, L'Assocation, and Aline et les autres.
SIDELIGHTS: Animator, writer, and cartoon artist Guy Delisle is a contributor to a number of French and Canadian comic-book series. During his work in the animation field, Delisle was called upon to travel to North Korea, where he supervised production work on a French cartoon program. In his graphic memoir, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Delisle recounts the two months he spent in the oppressive communist regime through detailed, nuanced observations of the everyday events, banalities, and absurdities that occurred around him. While there, Delisle's movements were constantly monitored by his translator and guide. Any attempt to diverge from the officially sanctioned itinerary, even requests as simple as visiting the train station or the copier room, were turned down. Instead, his translator constantly diverted him to sites that praise the country's late founder, Kim Il-Sung, and current leader, Kim Jong-Il.
Delisle reports how images, portraits, and statues of dictators Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il are found everywhere, and that the portraits of them that hang in his hotel room are subtly altered to make it seem as though the leaders are looming over the observer. He describes the invisible but iron-clad control the regime exerts over its people, and how people are terrified of uttering a wrong word or making a wrong move. Even among the oppression, however, Delisle found sources of humor. He tells of his own small efforts at subversion, including playing forbidden jazz music, singing songs such as Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up," (which encourages listeners to demand their individual rights), and throwing paper airplanes out his fifteenth-floor window. When Delisle managed to dodge his handlers and take a short sightseeing walk by himself, his guide was truly upset, and Delisle later feared he may have caused the man serious trouble. Though he tries to inject humor into his experience, Delisle "has a deep reservoir of compassion for the people he encounters in this nation of inmates," noted Austin Ramzy in Time International.
Indeed, critics lauded Pyongyang. "Delisle's retelling of his adventures makes a gently humorous counterpoint to the daily news stories about the axis of evil," observed a Publishers Weekly contributor. "Delisle, through the simple use of charcoal, ink and dialogue bubbles, captures aspects of life in North Korea that tend to elude observers in other media," Ramzy stated. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Delisle's story "Brilliant, passionately rendered reportage."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Delisle, Guy, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Dascher, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2005.
Booklist, October 15, 2005, Gordon Flagg, review of Pyongyang, p. 38.
Entertainment Weekly, October 28, 2005, Jef Jensen, Tom Russo, Abby West, and Wook Kim, "Comic Books 101: Toil and Trouble," p. 94.
Foreign Policy, May-June, 2005, Ted Rall, "Drawing behind the Lines," review of Pyongyang, p. 72.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2005, review of Pyongyang, p. 710.
Publishers Weekly, August 8, 2005, review of Pyongyang, p. 219.
Time International, November 21, 2005, Austin Ramzy, "The Not-So-Funny Pages: A New Book Offers an Unforgettable Look at Life in North Korea through an Unlikely Medium: Cartoons," p. 48.
Village Voice, August 22, 2005, Ed Park, "Shadowland: An Animated Account of Life under the Kim Regime."
Lambiek, http://www.lambiek.net/ (January 15, 2006), biography of Guy Delisle.