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Fotografen by Emmanuel Guibert
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3411632,181 (4.27)17
Authors:Emmanuel Guibert
Other authors:Didier Lefèvre, Frédéric Lemercier
Info:[Kbh.] : Egmont Serieforlaget, 2007.
Collections:Your library, Skønlitteratur
Tags:graphic novel, 2000'erne, Frankrig

Work details

The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders by Emmanuel Guibert


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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
A stunning photo-infused graphic novel about Doctors without Borders, Afghanistan and the photographer's journey when he accompanies the doctors on a mission in 1986. Frequently the photographs are actually Didier's contact sheets, which, while sometimes hard to examine without a loupe, add drama and action to his story. The dedication of the doctors in difficult conditions and the harsh ruggedness of the Afghanistan landscape and culture are breathtaking. This mesmerizing story is essential reading especially as the U.S. continues to be entrenched militarily in Afghanistan. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Nunca tinha ouvido falar deste livro. Ofereceram-mo e foi uma surpresa total. O livro é o impressionante relato de um trabalho fotográfico do fotógrafo francês Didier Lefèvre (falecido em 2007) acompanhando uma missão dos Médicos Sem Fronteiras em plena guerra do Afeganistão em 1986.
A particularidade do livro é o seu formato - é uma graphic novel (pelo desenhador Emmanuel Guibert) que nos mostra toda a aventura real de Lefèvre, intercalada com as suas fotos e folhas de contacto. Desta forma é possível não só ver muito boa fotografia, mas também ter acesso ao processo criativo de Lefèvre e acompanhar todos os detalhes da história que estão 'por trás' das fotos.
O livro é impressionante e imprescindível. Foi uma das minhas maiores e melhores surpresas deste ano. ( )
  espadana | May 10, 2013 |
Brilliant! I wrote about it here:


What follows is an excerpt.

Hundreds of these photos are woven into this book and his story, and it is in this way that I say Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefevre have created an entirely new genre. A book that is both read and stared at; a story that is experienced and presented in anecdote, event and character, but also glimpsed via the windows and lenses through which the protagonist himself literally once looked.

Without the photos, it would be a powerful travelogue. A story about a man traveling outside his boundaries, outside his comfort zone to summon the fortitude to be better than he was before. With the photos intertwined via the fabulous design work of Frederic Lemercier, the book and story is a precipice the reader will always feel on the edge of. A tunnel into another world, a book to be involved with, so penetrating and serious that I scarcely believed my heart was still beating when I finished reading it. ( )
  comicsworkshop | May 29, 2012 |
by Danielle Sherwood

The mission opens with a good-bye and closes with a hello. The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders (First Second, 2009) opens with our protagonist leaving Paris to do a photo-reportage mission of a MSF (Médicins San Frontières, or Doctors without Borders) caravan that’s going into northeastern Afghanistan, near the city of Feyzabad. Starting with them in Peshawar, Pakistan he will cross fifteen mountain passes over 16,000 feet high, on foot through a country at war. On one side, invading Soviet forces and the army of the Communist government in Kabul. On the other, the Mujahideen, the Afghan resistance. In the middle, explains our protagonist, are the humanitarian organizations – the MSF.

With the decade-long anniversary of 9/11 behind us, I thought it suitable to examine a bit of United States and World History of which people of my generation have no awareness or perception. Being a student – and a very young one at that! – when the Twin Towers fell, I was provided with little historical context or rationale to this major national catastrophe. The act of terror was explained away in the following months by finger-pointing and summary religious dogma. I am not ashamed to say that The Photographer provided me with an education that my educators never proffered. This is not to say that my education was poor; in fact, the opposite. Certain key events and details were not explained, whether they were deemed irrelevant or too complex. Perhaps in the wake of 9/11, as people tried to move on and, in the activity of repairing one’s life, looked towards the future, they forgot how and why the past came rushing forwards to meet us. To move on from the past does not mean forgetting it.

The Photographer’s introduction outlines in very broad terms the situation in Afghanistan, United States and Russia during a key turning point in the Cold War. Before the rise of the Taliban and the founding of Al-Qaeda and long, long before a man called Bush, Jr. learns of an aerial attack on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon and launches a so-called “War on Terror”. The book closes with updates on the status of its characters: where they have gone since the mission, what they are doing, and where you might find them to this day. The middle, the heart of the novel, is the experience crossing into Afghanistan by night to avoid Soviet detection, the bribery and protection bartered by the MSF to ensure safe passage of their doctors and their equipment, the high cost of human error in war territory, and – most of all – the people who suffer and those who try to ease it, if not wholly erase it. Religion is not a factor in this story. The locals have their beliefs and their practices which, for the most part, the MSF and our narrator respect… until local medicinal practices come in to play and irreparable damage is done.

This story is curious and hard to categorize, especially for graphica. Often hesitant to tackle serious world events given its history of light (let’s call it boyish) fiction, graphica of late has proven itself a suitable medium and genre for nonfiction narrative. While there is a precedent, owing to graphic novels like Art Spiegelman’s Maus series and Marjane Sartrapi’s Persepolis, when one thinks of graphica it is hard to think of anything but fantasy, action, adventure along the lines of Superman, The Runaways or Sin City. Even romantic gestures in the genre, like Craig Thompson’s Blankets, seem to be exceptions to the rule rather than alternatives. The Photographer, if little else, does its predecessors’ justice and provides an argument for the value of graphic narrative as expressions of emotionally challenging or violent material.

In a mode that I found quite refreshing and unique, The Photographer is composed of photographs and then supplemented by drawings where necessary. The effect is bizarre and unsettling at first, but then the double vision (or representation) offers a perspective that otherwise would be lost. Through the photographs, the reader sees what the narrator sees. What is drawn is what he cannot see well, or cannot show the reader, or are snippets of time simply lost. The effect is more honest, more authoritative. It’s hard to argue with a photograph, especially one taken before certain advances in modern technology like Photoshop. Though the drawings are crude – I found it tough to differentiate between all characters in the narrative, especially members of the MSF (excepting Juliette, the only female) – the style reinforces the realities of the mission’s expedition. Lots of the experience in Afghanistan is crude and basic. There are no sterile waiting rooms, no impressive laboratory equipment for running tests, and certainly no expensive medications the likes Americans receive in state-funded hospitals. There is just the open air, basic sterilization and operating tools, and minimal lamplight for which to examine an un-ending stream or bruised, battered, and mangled patients.

A patient I found most heartbreaking of them all? A young girl who will never walk again because her spinal cord was severed by a piece of shrapnel no larger than a freckle. Don’t get me started on the others because there are too many. Children are the cruelest causalities of war; you don’t have to be a parent to understand this statement or agree with it.

Perhaps in a nod to its humanitarian origins, The Photographer is a collaborative effort. Didier Lefevre, the photojournalist who joins Doctors without Borders, collaborates with friend and cartoonist Emmanuel Guibert and designer Frederic Lemercier. Together the three create a stunning work of graphica that delves deep into war-torn Afghanistan in the late 1980s and follows a peace-keeping mission as they try to mend at an individual level what others are trying to destroy on a national one. It is a sad story but not one without hope.

Though Lefevre suffers much on his journey through Afghanistan, he also recognizes a deep desire to return. To document the Afghan life and varied lifestyles. To revisit the kind, warm people he met along the way. To share the efforts and exploits of the MSF, individuals who work harder than any other living being to perform such selfless and lifesaving acts. To give a voice to local farmers and traders who live with war but don’t have an opportunity to share or document their experience of it. For many of the men and women he met in Afghanistan, Lefevre was the first photographer they had met; the only person to have taken their photograph and they will never see it. His journey was dangerous, sure – it nearly cost Lefevre his life upon returning to Paris with chronic furunculosis – but he’d do it again. ( )
  SwensonBooks | Sep 20, 2011 |
Could there be spoilers? This is a mixture of photographs & drawings to create a graphic documentary of the photographres trip into Afghanistan with a MSF group in the mid-80's. It is very interesting. The photographer is learning his craft and he takes lots & lots of pictures and the way they show this in a book of finite pages is that almost all of the photographs are small. It was often hard to see the details. A few are graphic & it was nice to to have to see the details. It is a pretty simple story, they travel a long distance, going up & down mountains, to avoid the Russian Army, and they treat anybody who asks to be treated. They accept help in doing their job from warlords or religious leaders without (I think) any limit to who they will work with; and their goal is always to bring medical treatment to whoever will accept it. There are some very very sad stories about children being wounded & killed. The personalities of the MSF doctors & nurses are drawn throughout the book as the photographer gets to know them better. Of course there are heroic, but also sometimes silly. The photographer is the only one who you really see the bad parts of, when he decides he needs to get home more quickly than the group will get him home, he insists on traveling on his own & that doesn't work very well. His trip is harrowing and painful, and it really is a sad story because there were health impacts & it is probably 1 reason he died so young. But he (like all of us) made a choice & then in carrying it out it turned out to be the wrong choice. Some of that part was hard to read because he was pretty ineffectual and it was frustrating. The drawing is fine and makes it a narrative that couldn't be told just by the pictures; there is a lot of explanatory text mixed in as well.
  franoscar | Jul 1, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
The book has the feel of a film, attesting to the skill of Guibert and Frédéric Lemercier, the graphic designer. But there is nothing romantic about Afghanistan or the Afghans, who can be at once courageous and generous as well as heartless and menacing. Lefèvre, on the way back, is abandoned by his feckless guides; his horse collapses and eventually dies; and the photographer nearly succumbs in the snowy mountain passes. “I take out one of my cameras. I choose a 20-millimeter lens, a very wide angle, and shoot from the ground,” he says — “to let people know where I died.” The next page shows his exhausted pack horse amid snowy boulders, followed by a bleak spread of the gloomy mountain pass. Lefèvre is saved by a band of brigands, who shake him down for much of his money but get him out. The physical toll of his trip left him suffering from chronic boils. He lost 14 teeth. But before he died he returned to Afghanistan seven more times in an attempt to tell the stories of those he first met in 1986, whom he could not abandon or forget.

The disparity between what we are told or what we believe about war and war itself is so vast that those who come back, like Lefèvre, are often rendered speechless. What do you say to those who advocate war as an instrument to liberate the women of Afghanistan or bring democracy to Iraq? How do you tell them what war is like? How do you explain that the very proposition of war as an instrument of virtue is absurd? How do you cope with memories of children bleeding to death with bits of iron fragments peppered throughout their small bodies? How do you speak of war without tears?
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In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union. This graphic novel/photo-journal is a record of one reporter's arduous and dangerous journey through Afghanistan, accompanying the Doctors Without Borders.

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