22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Marc-Antoine Mathieu

Marc-Antoine Mathieu was born in 1959 in Antony, France, and grew up in Angers, where he attended the École des Beaux-Arts. He later worked as a scenographer and graphic designer at Atelier Lucie Lom and published comics in magazines such as »Marcel«, »Le Banni« and »Morsures«.

In 1987 he released his first album of comics, »Paris-Mâcon«, a collaboration with his brother Jean-Luc Mathieu. Three years later the cartoonist published »L’Origine« (1990; tr. The origin), the first of six volumes in his series »Julius Corentin Acquefacques, prisonnier des rêves« (tr. Julius Corentin Acquefacques, prisoner of dreams). This initial volume won prizes that included the 1991 Alph-Art coup de cœur at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. Not only does the last name of the protagonist, when read backwards, make a tonal reference to Franz Kafka, but the experiences of this employee of the Ministry of Humor are also Kafkaesque. Upon observing that the plot of the final volume, »Le Décalage« (2013; tr. The deferral) begins only on page 7, that the cover image doesn’t appear until page 59, and that some pages of the book seem to be missing entirely, the reader may realize that Mathieu is exploring the frontiers of both storytelling and book design. Andreas Platthaus, head of the features section at »FAZ«, noted that »Marc-Antoine Mathieu does everything differently than normal cartoonists do. His new book […] is no exception. And even better than usual.« In addition to his series on Julius Corentin Acquefacques, the artist has published numerous single volumes such as »Dieu en personne« (2009; tr. God in person), for which he won the 2010 Grand Prix of the Association of Critics and Journalists of Comics (ACBD), the award for the year’s best album of comics from France. In »3″« (2011; Eng. 3″, 2013) the illustrator performed an innovative experiment exploring the strengths and possibilities of the comic medium; in forgoing text and simply presenting image after image (three seconds transpire across one row comprised of three panels), the reader is forced to watch for different perspectives and new details in order to reconstruct the events in this gripping, almost inscrutable thriller. »S.E.N.S.« (2014; tr. Direction), Mathieu’s most recent book – and, at more than 250 pages, his longest – is also without words, and depicts a man’s journey through a labyrinthine world as he is guided by arrows and other clues on a quest for the meaning of his life. The »Tagesspiegel« described the work as such: »It is as if M.C. Escher had made a comic book version of Kafka’s ›The Castle‹.« The reviewer concluded that this book, along with »Le Décalage«, confirms Mathieu’s status as one of today’s most innovative comic book artists.