"One day the drawing left me"

- On the very same day as a handful of beloved friends. The only difference being that it came back. Little by little. At once darker and lighter. At its return, I talked to it, cried, laughed, screamed, I calmed myself to a degree that the line cleared up. We tried to understand each other, the two of us. We said to each other, the drawing and I that we would never be the same. Like so many others. This book is not a testimony, much less a comic book, but the story of a reunion between two friends who came close to never meeting again".

Luz, page from Catharsis, 2015.
- Tell me, what you saw...
- Can I take a piece of paper, a pen?
- Of course. Take your time...

The words above are from the foreword of Catharsis by Luz, who survived the massacre at the premises of Charlie Hebdo by not quite reaching the office until that moment, when the murderers left the building. Having seen and yet not quite having seen, but having seen too much in the sense of knowing all too much, Catharsis is an album on being thrown into a sea of mourning and on learning to swim it by way of forging a voice for oneself.

In interviews such as here and here Luz has told how a little character turned up on the paper, when he was giving testimony and trying to draw a plan of where he had entered the office of Charlie Hebdo, finding it easier to express himself with a pen. And then this little man appeared, much like the ones Charb used to scribble at the editorial meetings, while trying to get something onto paper. So, by way of Charb, as Luz has explained, he tried to get to grips with it all through a dialogue with this little person; someone, who had seen something, he wished he never had, what have you seen?

Luz, page from Catharsis, 2015.
- Truth be told, I did not see much...

The encircling of the eyes, the almost manic repetition of that first encircling movement, breaking the whiteness of the paper, but not being able to break out of that circle to bring the line beyond. Those are not so much encircled eyes on seeing as they are the internal pain of realizing what is too much to realize and yet still trying to encompass it all, transforming it onto paper where realizations turn into reflections. This is what makes for a compelling narrative in that we are at the driving force of cartooning; the ur-drive of the artform.

Each page is composed as a dance with the softness of the line we know so well from Charlie Hebdo. The murderers even perform a ballet, choreographed as their action was and all the more visible for being void of substance in comparison to the ones we never see, their victims. Never to be seen as such, victims, they are the richness that has been lost.

Luz, page from Catharsis, 2015.
- When I climb into your heart, I am your sadness...
Your mourning at times impossible to bear.
- when I go to your head, I am the fear, the paranoia,
the shadow that follows you and is not yours.
- I shall often take over all of you, I will be
the unbearable helium of your anger and drinking from
your confusion of being alive as a survivor.

This is a story, which urges itself to be told. Almost every page depicts paper and pen as a problem to be solved or shy away from. As Luz has concluded himself, he never did stop drawing in spite of an initial belief of not being able to do so again. I know I shall be returning to Catharsis for his rendering on the force that is mourning and the many strange shapes it wrings us into; the insanity of grief literally possessing us.

Still, and this is what makes his tale so powerful; this is a story on never losing oneself, Luz manages to find a voice for himself in every step of the process. Grief itself is given a name, Ginette – oh, but that is the name of a Chihuahua, as Grief protests; Ginette being deflated, when she seemed at her strongest.

And first and last it is an album on love, on profound love.

Luz, Catharsis, 128 pages, Editions Futuropolis 2015. In French and was released on May 21, 2015.

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