An exceptional year from a historical point of view, 1848 had to appear in this comic strip saga devoted to the stages of our History marked by the silent but decisive action of anonymous people who embodied their time! In the tumult of the Printemps des Peuples, a small political essay will weigh heavily for the years to come: the Communist Party Manifesto! A subject of choice, which is however perhaps not treated to the best of its educational potential.
The "Man of the Year" saga continues in comics, always focusing on a man (known or remained anonymous and requiring a more romantic approach) whose action that year left a deep mark in history. This is how the man who betrays Joan of Arc in 1431, the man who shouted “Shit! »In Waterloo in 1815, the man who killed Che Guevara in 1967 or the unknown soldier in« The man of the year 1917 »and Esterhazy in« The man of the year 1894 ». A total of nine volumes have appeared and two others are pending. The last opus is devoted to the year 1848, a rich year if it is at the historical level: the spring of the peoples in Europe, the end of the Monarchy in France, the abolition of slavery ... and publication of the Manifesto of Communist Party written by Marx and Engels! It is this last milestone event that the screenwriter Jean-Pierre Pécau deals with in this episode.
The man of the year 1848 is the opportunity to dive into a nineteenth century universe, an engaging atmosphere well captured by the drawings of Benoît Dellac colored by Morgann Tanco. It is with pleasure that the reader lets himself be carried on the docks and in the slums of the Victorian capital to follow the lame step of a charismatic character in a long frock coat, top hat and the traditional cane that serves him. as much to bear the weight of the ages as to fight ...
One can wonder if the choice of this man who is in charge of the publication of the Manifesto of the Communist Party is judicious since it is neither more nor less than Jean Lafitte! Jean Lafitte, French privateer who officiated under the Consulate in the Gulf of Mexico before settling in Barataria, which he transformed into a pirate haunt and a hub for slave trade. He put himself in the service of the USA during the war against the United Kingdom in 1812. The death of Jean Lafitte remains still today surrounded by a certain mystery, it is generally located between 1821 and 1826, but without reliable sources. We cannot even specify the conditions of this death: naval battle? Hurricane?
A manuscript with controversial authenticity tells how the pirate would have lived a few years in the United States after the announcement of his death before giving up the ghost only around 1840. In this more than doubtful work, Jean Lafitte is presented as an anti-slaveryist back in Europe and who would have contacts with Marx and Engels and it is from this document that the whole scenario of the comic strip is drawn. Strange choice therefore that this pirate from beyond the grave, figure of the first XIXth century which appears as a somewhat artificial added part in this second industrial XIXth century. But Jean Lafitte is the occasion for long flashbacks that send the reader back to the dawn of the century for epic and exotic piracy stories and to present the bay of Barataria as a utopian place of equality, sharing and a bit of freedom. anarchist presented as " a communist society experience of pirate communities ". In the end, we always stay quite far from Marx, even more from Engels, and the reader is never really confronted with Communist ideology. The accent is rather put on the rebel and anarchist side, sharing, of the old sea bass which makes lose a little the historical and educational interest which a comic strip could have had on this subject. No final file comes to clarify the case, to disentangle the false from the true, only a few lines on the last plate come to explain that the story is based on this famous newspaper of which " historians still debate the authenticity »...
In the end, we no longer have a small adventure comic, to read for pleasure, but without much educational interest whatsoever on communism, the year 1848, the manifesto or even Jean Lafitte who would deserve a biographical dossier a little serious rather than ending by comparing him to Jack Sparrow ...
Get "The Man of the Year 1848"
Screenplay: Jean-Pierre PECAU
Design: Benoît DELLAC
Color: Morgann TANCO
Cover: MANCHU & Fred BLANCHARD