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“The character of Luc Leroi becomes richer and more mysterious each time I redraw him”

Luc Leroi is back.

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“The character of Luc Leroi becomes richer and more mysterious each time I redraw him”

Luc Leroi is back. On tiptoe, with his eternal personality, his red hair, his creamy white suit of an old-fashioned rocker, this tact which belongs only to him, and this touch of humor which have always made his mark factory.

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For more than forty years this vibrant everyday hero, an essential figure in contemporary comics, has been living his life as an offbeat character in the open alleys of comics. Its creator, Jean-C.Denis, 72, an author as discreet as he is talented, even received the Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême in 2012.

Denis has just published Luc Leroi - A windfall effect, and we are delighted to read this funny, tender, poetic album punctuated by the cavalcades of a new character: a mischievous dog nicknamed Cookie, who will show off from the green and unripe to the redheaded and discreetly rock'n'roll hero. “Luc Leroi never stays far from me,” replies Jean-C.Denis when asked why he decided to dedicate a new adventure to him. I use it as a filter to look at the world around us. He often comes unexpectedly into my thoughts, and it is almost he who chooses the adventures he will experience. I just have to follow the flow.”

In A Windfall, it all starts with very good news. Luc Leroi has just published, amid the general indifference of the small literary community, a collection of short stories entitled With the Means of the Edge. Not a single review in the newspapers. And yet the book sells like hotcakes. A miracle! His publisher can’t believe it: “Amidst all the new releases, your book is doing surprisingly well.” This is what we call a windfall effect... Because Luc Leroi's book has exactly the same title as the new work by star writer Sylvain Courjonc. But it appeared a few weeks before...

“The title Windfall,” explains Jean-C. Denis, is similar to having the joy of discovering a treasure that one does not deserve. I remember one day I came across a wallet full of yen. It cost around €200. I felt no guilt and even rather a sort of indescribable happiness in taking advantage of this unexpected windfall..."

In the album, we then meet an astonishing dog in a Parisian park. What follows is an uninterrupted series of funny adventures, which lead the heroes into a romantic saraband full of tenderness and lightness.

Paris, with its streets, its colorful fauna, its parks and gardens à la Robert Doisneau, serves as a green setting for this incredible adventure by Luc Leroi, the paper double of Jean-C. Dennis...


In this page, Luc Leroi met a surprising dog who decided to become attached to him. The groundskeeper ordered our hero to take him out of the garden while keeping him on a leash. “The problem is that Luc Leroi does not have one, and was forced to use his tie to escort the animal out of the garden,” summarizes the author. I love this kind of misunderstanding. It is indeed a question here of an encounter with a dog. Leaving it so abruptly can be violent. The look, the joy, then the sadness of the dog facing Luc Leroi, at the moment of separation, all of this carries a beautiful range of feelings.

In the following panels, when Luc Leroi has undone the tie that attached him to the animal, and when he firmly tells him, with his arm outstretched, to leave, we feel all the sadness of the abandoned animal. “My character may seem resolute,” analyzes the designer of Few Months at Amélie, “deep down, he is sorry for this situation. In fact, he protects his territory. He has always been a character who has a fairly restricted universe. He doesn't really want to be invaded. However, between him and this dog, something happened. This is undoubtedly an elective meeting. This is the eternal story of his life. Luc Leroi has an offbeat lifestyle. He is a modest hero, almost declining in spite of himself, who lives in a small Parisian apartment at a time when everyone is fleeing the Capital. He doesn't. He hangs on. For him, parks and gardens are ways of traveling..."

This green board benefits from pastel colors and a superb play of light and shadow. “I am very sensitive to the play of light in fact,” admits the author. I do a lot of watercolors. I work with the sole aim of translating light to better find it on paper. This sometimes brings a certain sweetness. Here, I located the action in the Luxembourg Gardens, and more precisely at the exit of rue Vavin. This light brings a season, which we can imagine to be either spring or autumn. A time of year when we can still have summer feelings.”

In this page as in the rest of the album, we find a lot of emotion, a graphic sensitivity to the surface, but no nostalgia. “No, in fact,” concludes Jean-C. Denis, this album is not at all nostalgic. I lived in Paris for a good forty years. I now live in the suburbs, but I regularly returned to the neighborhoods of this adventure to capture the graphic atmosphere and smell the spirit of the times. That's why in the boxes, you see pretty Parisian mothers with their pink sneakers, dressed exactly like their daughters, bearded runners in full effort, or delivery men on scooters... It's my way of sketch the era. As for Luc Leroi, as a character, I realized that he remained quite enigmatic. It gets refined over the years. Some comic book heroes are so codified that they become transparent. Luc Leroi is the opposite. It appears richer and more mysterious each time I redraw it. It becomes more complex as the albums progress. I have more and more pleasure in directing it. I let him lead me by the tip of his nose. Besides, I’m going to make a confession to you, the only thing he and I have in common is the shape of our noses!” (Laughs.)

Luc Leroi - A windfall effect, by Jean-C. Denis, Futuropolis editions, 96p., €18.

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