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The Field of Possibilities: romantic relationships in the age of digital worlds

Marsu enjoys a long-standing and fulfilling relationship with her husband Harry.

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The Field of Possibilities: romantic relationships in the age of digital worlds

Marsu enjoys a long-standing and fulfilling relationship with her husband Harry. However, when she meets Thom in an ultra-immersive virtual world, a connection is forged. The mutual complicity turns into more intense feelings. But can you love two people at the same time, in two different universes? Will Marsu have to make a choice?

Released on February 9, 2024 by Dupuis, Le Champ des Possibilities presents itself as a love triangle in a futuristic context where virtual reality allows you to feel sensations equivalent to those of physical reality, in an environment that can be shaped as you wish. “I found that it was a good medium to help people understand that we can be a whole person by leading several parallel lives, several parallel loves,” says screenwriter Vero Cazot to Le Figaro. This of course resonates with our exchanges today on social networks, even video games.

“The virtual world is often shown as frightening, violent, full of dangers, duplicity, lies... Who is hiding behind the screen? But it could be a more secure, more open world, with more love,” points out the screenwriter, whose story has the appearance of a digital utopia. “Sometimes we wear more masks in reality than in the virtual world. With the fear of the concrete, of the real, we can put up barriers due to a lack of confidence in ourselves or in others,” she judges. However, his comics focus more on the nature of human relationships than on technological prowess, which is only a tool for questioning our contemporary romantic relationships.

Also read: Liv Strömquist: falling in love, frankly, is it really reasonable?

“My fiction is based on authentic emotions, things that I was able to really experience a few years ago and which shocked me in my conception of love and the couple,” says Vero Cazot. At the time I was in a rich and complete story, I felt totally fulfilled and very happy. An encounter created a need that did not exist just before, and which did not at all diminish the story I was living; on the contrary, it strengthened it and gave me absolute confidence in my “legitimate” couple.”

In the album, although tensions and questions emerge, Harry accepts Marsu's love for Thom and is particularly caring, which could surprise more than one reader... However, this is the part the most autobiographical story! “Loving someone else can happen to anyone and we can choose to reject it, lie to it or live it,” believes the screenwriter. You have to be solid and very secure so as not to feel in danger in your relationship and not to have the impression of being abandoned… I think it’s almost impossible with many relationships.” Fans of explosive relationships, betrayals and revenge, this comic may not be for you! The scenario nevertheless contains its share of adventures, adventures and surprises...

A long-term project, Le Champ des Possibilities is the result of a year of writing and maturation. “The first version of the script was a pure comedy but it didn’t work,” smiles Vero Cazot. The third will be the right one and will instantly seduce Anaïs Bernabé, a designer suggested by a mutual friend: “For me, Vero is one of the finest screenwriters there is on the market. In terms of emotions, sensitivity, humanity, it’s difficult to create more polished scenarios.” Their collaboration will take the form of a two or three-year ping-pong around fifteen-page sequences that the artist gradually cuts into a storyboard. “We are really on a co-creation, I have the impression of having been able to take my place,” appreciates Anaïs Bernabé. Among her proposals, she mentions the addition of silences to modify the rhythm and the play of gazes to bring out emotions and innuendoes.

The look of the different characters again results from an exchange of ideas. Addressing his comrade, Vero Cazot remembers: “For Thom, I sent you Seth Rogen [as a reference] because he is not necessarily the most attractive person... and at the same time, he is ultra-charming. It was important that attraction was not based on beauty standards or appearances. When you're in love with someone, it doesn't necessarily have to do with looks." Plump, bearded and red, Thom is very different from Harry, a thin man with long hair of Asian origin, while Marsu is of Afro-European type. Anaïs Bernabé assumes this “idea of ​​cross-breeding”, consistent with the theme of opening the field of possibilities. “In comics, for decades, we were always using the same models, even though the world is not like that! We can be teased about this kind of choice of variety, of openness, but you just have to leave the house to discover this diversity,” adds the screenwriter.

One of the challenges of comics was to distinguish the physical world from the virtual world. It would have been logical to offer an analog design for the first and a digital design for the second, but this is not the case. If Anaïs Bernabé chose a traditional pencil to depict the everyday environment, she created the colors by computer. As for the virtual universe, everything is colored pencils. “This gives something more palpable to virtual reality,” says Vero Cazot. And “something energetic,” adds the designer, before specifying: “The colored pencil is very sensitive, sensorial, carnal, while being subtle.”

Tracing paper has also replaced the usual paper, sometimes with the addition of water. “With the tracing, you have to be careful, otherwise it warps or tears… like in human relationships,” underlines the artist, attentive to her own sensations when working on a board. As on this pink-tinted page, shown by his colleague: “On this one, I experienced a form of ecstasy, I cried… I was in a state of well-being, of flow.” What about this amazing scene in a virtual club, swirling with color? “I didn’t choose anything: it happened by itself, it overwhelmed me, I found it great!” While many comics rely on a limited palette of colors, Le Champ de Possibilities does not hesitate to use all the shades of the rainbow, without harming the readability or aesthetic coherence of the story. . Hat!

This love triangle at the heart of the comic strip, in which the characters lay their cards on the table, raises the question of the exclusive couple in our societies. “This model of fidelity, of monogamy, is completely illusory: there is a lot of deception,” notes Vero Cazot. People prefer stories of adultery and lies rather than transparency and acceptance. When we see the number of domestic violence, feminicides... What if we just managed to trust each other and accept that the other – even when we are married or together for a long time – does not belong to us? The designer Anaïs Bernabé agrees: “Love is not a game of power, it is a sharing, an encounter. The problem with our societies is that we want to format everything, which is reassuring but prevents us from creating. I find that your album serves as a reminder that love is a shared creation.”

However, the term polyamory is not used. “To be truly in love with someone, to want to share your intimacy and your daily life, it’s extremely rare,” says the screenwriter. Declaring yourself polyamorous in advance, before experiencing it, is artificial.” His colleague responds: “Some people manage to live two, three, four relationships… I don’t have that ability. I don’t know how they do it!”

In any case, the album arouses strong reactions from its readers. “Many told us that they were jostled, moved… It’s uncomfortable but it made them move,” assures Vero Cazot. For some, it generated discussions within the couple that they had never had.” Far from being a guide to what you should do to be happy, Le Champ des Possibilities offers other ways of experiencing your romantic feelings. The screenwriter nevertheless allows herself a little advice: “Putting yourself in the other’s place, empathy, is the secret to the survival of humanity!”

The Field of Possibilities, by Vero Cazot (screenplay) and Anaïs Bernabé (drawing), Dupuis, 128 pages, 23.50 euros.

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