What would happen if garden gnomes came to life? If, during the cover of darkness and whilst people were sleeping, they quietly and carefully took care of flora and fauna? In Christophe Badoux’s comic novel Bupo Schoch: Operation ‘Roter Zipfel’ we discover who the real rulers of Switzerland are; they are in fact garden gnomes. Nothing happens without them because the busy little helpers are taking care of nature and, consequently, the well-being of humans. Yet the harmony has been disturbed ever since the militant garden gnome group, the Nanistic Army Fraction, has become active. Because the combative gnomes are using every means possible to maintain Swiss folk culture and are not afraid of killing. The first to be killed, found dead in the Schrebergarten, is a folk music producer who made his fortune by inventing techno-yodelling. Shortly after that a designer is killed who had commercially misused the Swiss cheese-hole sample. Bupo Schoch, policeman and specialist in “extraordinary perception”, is put on the case and just does not understand what the world has come to. It is only when he finds companionship with the garden gnome Gottlieb that he gains access to the secret world of the bobble-hats.
In Fatma’s Fantastical Voyage Badoux leads the reader into another secretive world, this time into the human body. Together with the medical scientist Nadia Kahn, Badoux developed a teaching comic that explains the details of their up-and-coming operation to young patients suffering from the rare condition, moyamoya angiopathy. Moyamoya angiopathy is an illness of the brain vessels and was first discovered in 1956 in Japan and since then has been on the increase in Europe. In a nod to the sci-fi film classic The Fantastic Journey (USA, 1966), Badoux shrinks his protagonists so that they can travel through the blood vessels of the patient, Fatma. Through this assistance Fatma receives a bypass that saves her by bringing about normal blood circulation.
Christophe Badoux draws in the style of the classic franco-belgian ligne-claire, that Hergé established with his comic series Tim and Struppi. Badoux was born in 1964 in the USA and grew up in Switzerland. He completed his studies in graphic design in Zurich and then went to Paris for eight years. The influence of the French-speaking comic book culture is reflected in his clear drawing style and linear storytelling. Christophe Badoux has been living and working in Zürich as a free-lance illustrator since 1991, and is an instructor at the Lucerne School of Art and Design (Luzerner Hochschule für Design) and the Zürich University of the Arts (Züricher Hochschule der Künste).
The largest art collection of works by Paul Klee can also be found in Luzern, and it was here that Badoux researched his topical comic book Klee. This comic book biography was commissioned by the Paul Klee Centre in Bern and shows the most significant points in the eventful life of the pioneer and pathfinder of the classical Modern.
Badoux’ comic Per Fahrrad durch die Galaxis (i.e. through the galaxy by bicycle) demonstrates just how versatile he is: he has documented ironic little scenes from cyclists’ daily lives for the Swiss magazine Velojournal. And in the blog “Stan the Hooligan,” Badoux indulges his passion for football: together with the Zürich author Marcel Gamma, he regularly posts caustic cartoons about the FC Zürich.
Christophe Badoux is a virtuoso comic book craftsmen, who carefully finds his way into the most varied themes and genres and sets them out expressively and artistically. Even if his satire about Swiss national pride, Bupo Schock: Operation 'Roter Zipfel' appears to be radically different from his pedagogically demanding comic books Fatmas Fantastische Reise and Klee, all of his books reveal a particularly light touch in terms of storytelling as well as drawing.
Matthias Schneider is a cultural scientist, freelance cultural journalist and curator of film programs and exhibitions about comics.
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
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