Kisses from Iran
I remember discovering Tintin in the Congo to the elementary school. Seduced by all the absurd gags with the wild animals, I run to my teacher to say: "wesh it's so funny and all Tintin he drills a hole in a rhinoceros and then he blows a bar of TNT inside dead of laughter" – immediately she stops me: "I don't like this one too much. "My face asks why. As – I understood it later – she didn’t want to tell me head-on "Hergé is a Nazi KKK slave-owning fascist", she answered me kindly, oh the beautiful euphemism: "The first ones Tintin are not very successful because Hergé didn’t go to document himself on the spot. "This cannot be said of Lenaïc Vilain and his Greetings from Iran.
Lénaïc and his companion travel in an unexpected country which has just opened its doors to tourism: Iran. It is the occasion for him to make us discover the contemporary Iranian civilization, its ruins and its past, but also the condition of the woman, the homosexuality, the economic development, how to arrange with the Koranic law to live a fulfilled sexuality.
It seems to be a custom at Vraoum editions, Greetings from Iran in the first place is a beautiful book, that we like to hold in our hands, and that makes smile from the credits (“Dervish corrector” / “Sufis proofreaders” / “Muezzin Press”). Another aesthetic advantage, not negligible in this Christmas period: the cover is limited to Iranian colors, green red white gold; in other words, if you are out of decoration for the 24th, and you notice while diving in the stores that there is less line at the bookstore than at Maisons du monde, there is always a way to buy a stock of Good kisses, and to wedge some everywhere on your table. In addition, it will vary the drivel of the older ones: instead of whining against the bright luxury of your ornaments (“in my time, we made garlands with hair and hard bread !”), you will have grumbles against the Islamization of the French tradition. You’re going to make them miss the version of Christmas that last year they conspelled, to those old steaks ! But what is most moving about this book (still from a material point of view), is that the editorial choices perfectly accompany Lenaïc VilainRs approach (it seems that because of his name Santa Claus never brought him anything). Naughty puts his big drawings on parchment paper, in black and gold bichromy, like the old Persian writings.
It takes a noble support, and covers it with pragmatic stories, drawn pragmatically. This operation is in line with the background. The book takes a country that arouses a lot of fantasies (usually negative) and checks concretely what happens there.
As the composition of the cover shows, Vilain opposes to the verticality of fabulists a full horizontality of pedestrian, here and now.
When the back cover announces that we are going to discover “the contemporary culture of a population divided between conservatism and openness”, we start to feel lazy: I thought I was going to read a good little comic book, and in fact here I am in front of a travel agency brochure. It’s just that this fourth cover doesn’t present the case well. In my opinion the book is successful because it does not concern itself with demonstrating anything, but with showing people meeting other people, all of them having above all the preoccupation of living, that is to say, roughly speaking, eating, sleeping and occupying the remaining time.
Good kisses contains very few distanced considerations about the clash of civilizations or whatever, but a lot of down-to-earth details, the questions asked at the airport exit, the price of a hotel room, the price of a taxi ride, the price of a car, the price of a car, the price of a car, the price of a car, the price of a car, the price of a car, the price of a car, the price of a car, the price of a car, the price of a car; a cab ride, the price of the Iranian currency, the layout of the stores, how to cross a road, the temperature, the wind… Naughty never takes the position of the one who knows, or the one who is super casual and open strolling proudly greeting everyone, tasting in every dish. The effort to render reality honestly is also played out in the author’s portrait of himself. He is surly, refusing opportunities to explore that an Antoine de Maximy would have dreamed of having. We see him running away from an imam who proposes him to attend a religious course for young girls, we see him being voluntarily arrogant with people from Rennes because he hates to meet French people on a trip” and the nasty remarks are not excluded: "In the guidebook, they say that Teheran is the ugliest city in Iran. – Well it’s a bit stupid to choose it as capital. "Since Vilain dares to portray himself in this impurity, curious but not too much, tolerant to the extent of his comfort, we are inclined to receive with benevolence all the people we meet, even the most shady, even the most aggressive – we feel that everyone has his reasons. The comic book in question has, finally, the elegance to let us manage with all that.
We don’t have to come to the same conclusion as Lenaïc Vilain and his gow after their trip. Besides, no conclusion is formulated. And maybe that’s what we have to remember about this trip: when it’s real, no generalities hold.