The fabulous fate of Musidora, muse of silent cinema, in the new album Nivernais Nicolas Puzenat

According to Nicolas Pouzena, the comics artist, this is his new work from 2018. But after his critical and award-winning second album “Mégafauna” (Sarbacane, 2021), he’s already in a good place again, with Musidora, Once Upon a Time at the Movies (Robinson), where he drew 62 plates from a script by writer and librettist Arnaud Delalande.

Jeanne Roque, known as “Musidora”, the daughter of a composer and a seamstress, born in 1889, will not only burst the black and white screen, but also the mute, with Vampires between 1914 and 1916 by Louis Feuillade, but will henceforth be known to all lovers of historical graphic novels. In a full suit of black silk that hugged her body, the film muse was a resounding success.


If the first two albums of Nicolas Pouzenat gave him every opportunity to invent characters, places, situations, atmospheres, then this time he had to stick to the reality of the early 20th century. “It was more difficult than previous stories in the sense that I needed to get closer to depicting reality. To do this, I had to do a lot of research in terms of images, including, for example, the city of cinema “Elje” (Leon Gaumont). But, I still came up with some buildings for better immersion, with high ceilings. The characters were inspired by photographs and films. Musidora is exaggerated by cinematography, I made her more beautiful, I tried to find her face, her eyes, her long black hair,” he explains.

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Musidora is exaggerated by the movie, I made her prettier, I tried to find her face, her eyes, her long black hair

Other historical figures dot the pages, such as the poet Pierre Louis, who was Musidora’s lover, Paul Valéry, or even Colette, his close friend. – But Feuillade, for example, is a little crazy, I patted him a little when he was bald. »


Added to these difficulties is a way of working unknown to Nicolas Pouzin: to create with four hands. “It was the first time I worked with someone. I was contacted to find out if I was interested in the project. The historical context, the character, the script, everything interested me. I was very curious to know all this. Arnaud Delalande has a lot of experience writing novels, writing comics, history… Also, he only writes history in comics. We started with the text, and then he cut it all out, board by board. There I had to adapt in relation to the place of the text. This is an interpretation. Yes, that’s right, it’s very similar to how a musician interprets a score,” he explains.

If, unlike Invasive Species (Sarbacane), his first work, the colors here are perhaps less vibrant, then this is “more about realism. It is softer, more pastel. This is a good print. It’s a different genre than what I’ve been doing, but still in a traditional album format.”

Sylvie Anibal

Exercise. Musidora, Once Upon a Time at the Movies (Robinson); €14.99. All bookstores.

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