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Gustave Doré - Twelve Comic Strips

Gustave Doré

Twelve Comic Strips

Edited by David Kunzle
Translated by David Kunzle
Introduction by David Kunzle
Hardcover : 9781628462166, 208 pages, 143 b&w illustrations, July 2015

For the first time in English, the overlooked sequential narratives by the great illustrator and engraver


Among the masters of the nineteenth-century comic strip, Gustave Doré has been much neglected. For his illustrations to literary classics, he earned an unsurpassed reputation and corresponding scholarly attention. Doré himself repudiated his early work, and similarly critics and biographers have given short shrift to his beginnings as a caricaturist. These caricatures are herein rescued entirely for the first time in English by the renowned comics scholar David Kunzle.

Doré's caricature is known to a few specialists, but virtually no one has pointed out that his mastery of the comic strip particularly marks him as an entirely original figure in the post-Töpffer era of revolutionary, mid-century France. Doré, remarkably, created these comic strips when he was between fifteen and twenty-two years old, for Charles Philipon's Journal pour Rire (The Laughter Journal), virtually dominating its seven-year (1848-55) history. He also did three fairly long, separately published albums, which show him at his very best. They are consistently funny, often ludicrous, and illustrate a graphic inventiveness unmatched until the twentieth century. In these graphic stories, Doré parodies an ancient fable, the discomforts of life in the country, the perils of artistic ambition, the absurdities of mountaineering and travel, as well as the antics of schoolboys.

This book provides a context for Doré's caricatures, focusing on his comic strips in the Journal pour Rire, the character of the journal, and the three comic strip albums he created while he worked there. Kunzle's analysis reveals Doré's debts to his predecessors, Töpffer, Cham, and Nadar. None of Doré's Journal strips has ever been republished. Some of the albums were republished, reduced and incomplete, in German and French. This edition includes facsimiles of the twelve most significant comic strips and the first translation into English of the captions.


"Besides efficiently translating the captions, Kunzle describes Doré's dozen comics and their cultural context with scholarly precision in an excellent introduction. "

- Ray Olson, Booklist

"The twelve graphic narratives gathered in the volume published by the University Press of Mississippi reveal a true artist and the power of his blossoming imagination. . . . David Kunzle's book is precious on several grounds. First, because it brings together a scattered body of work and shows its historical significance. Second, because it makes available a series of translated and carefully annotated texts to Anglophone readers. . . . The surfer who browses through Doré's images will not experience the unquestionable benefits [found in this book]: a well-reasoned selection of works that are introduced and annotated with great competence and energy, not to mention humor. "

- Philippe Kaenel, European Comic Art

"David Kunzle has given us a fabulous treasure in this new volume. It contains both Gustave Doré's vibrant, youthful comics (accompanied by Kunzle's wonderful English translation from the original French text) and a brilliant essay by Kunzle on Doré's comic strips. This book joins Kunzle's two recent volumes on Rodolphe Töpffer (also published by University Press of Mississippi), which provide the gold standard for knowledge about nineteenth-century comics. This new volume picks up where those two books left off by tracing a very important and exciting part of Töpffer's enormous legacy in comics. Together, these three works show indisputably that the comics art form has a long, inventive, and illustrious history in nineteenth-century Europe. Comics lovers and scholars will be absolutely delighted to read this new, landmark book. "

- Mark McKinney, professor of French, Miami University (Ohio), and author of The Colonial Heritage of French Comics

"Kunzle’s books bring the comics of yesteryear magically back to life. If you take the time to read them, you’ll be transported to a nineteenth-century playground where painters, illustrators, and early cartoonists built an industry that continues to thrive today."

- Michael Taube, syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor,