Review: Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China

Shenzhen: A travelogue from China, is a comic by French Canadian cartoonist and animator Guy Delisle. The plot of the book revolves around Delisle and his experience working as an animation supervisor in China in 1997.

Guy’s job was to watch over animation of a children’s television series based upon storyboards created by the production company. Guy is forced to work through a language barrier in order to get the project done on time and on budget.

The book doesn’t have a hard narrative and fells more like diary entries that were drawn later filling with details added in from Delisle’s memory and observations.

In the book Delisle plays up the isolation that he felt living a part of the world that is new and different to him. Delisle rarely left his hotel for anything other than work, food or exercise. He realizes how he took these things for grandaunt when just ordering a meal in the town becomes difficult.

The art style that Guy uses in the book isn’t the traditional comic book style most people are use to. The black and white pencil images create the image of a dark and overpopulated city while he’s outside. When the story stays inside a building Delisle draws like a normal cartoonist with empty backgrounds and the characters in the foreground.

The cartoonist style continues with the way that Delisle draws people. While some characters have more facial detail most including himself are left little other than eyes, noses and hair. These for the most part could be due to nature of his art style.

Overall Shenzhen A Travelogue from China is an extremely entertaining book for someone interested in world culture and the medium of comics outside of Superheroes.

Shenzhen was originally published French in 2000, then in English by Drawn & Quarterly in 2006. The show that Guy worked on in the book was Papyrus an animated adaptation of a Belgian children book series. Delisle also published Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, it also was originally released in French in 2003 and then in English in 2005 also by Drawn and Quarterly. The book had a very similar premise of Guy going to different country and working on an other show.

Check out more of Guy Delisle work at http://www.guydelisle.com/ and Drawn and Quarterly at http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/

Creative Team: Writing/Art-Guy Delisle

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