Red April: a thriller against the background of the student strike

Red april: a thriller against the background of the student strike

A comic strip with the student strike of 2012 as a backdrop.

The student strike of 2012 had echoes all over Quebec, including in the Gatineau region. Authors Sylvain Lemay and André St-Georges have chosen this backdrop for their new comic book, Rouge avril, published by Mécanique générale.

This isn't the first time that Sylvain Lemay has used a historical event as the setting for a comic strip script. Already, in 2010, he tackled the October crisis in the comic strip Pour en fini avec novembre, also illustrated by André St-Georges.

Rouge avril is not for all that a historical comic strip, the work flirting more with the polar.

“It's the small story in the big story”, explains Sylvain Lemay, specifying that Red April focuses primarily on a character having difficulty understanding what is happening around him.

This character is a CEGEP professor trying to write a comic strip in collaboration with a student from the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) – where Sylvain Lemay teaches – but who is tormented by a series of anonymous letters accusing him of sleeping with his students, as well as plagiarism.

Red avril: a thriller against the background of the student strike

Courtesy, Mécanique général

André St-Georges affirms that it was not their intention at the beginning to release April Red for the 10th anniversary of the student demonstrations of 2012, but “it is become,” he says, when the authors and publisher realized that if the artwork was completed in the fall of 2021, it would be possible to release the comic in early 2022.

“At that time, there was a little pressure, but I myself put a lot of effort into making up for lost time and finishing all that,” says André St-Georges.

Political impact

Even though he was no longer a student at the time of the 2012 strike, André St-Georges explains that this is the kind of cause that is close to his heart.

“I felt challenged, he says. Keeping education accessible is a social choice that we had to make.”

Sylvain Lemay remembers the arrogance and contempt shown towards students by the authorities and the government. He reproaches them for not having respected the student assemblies and for having tried to discredit this movement and their right of association.

What [the authorities] haven't seen is that it started as a student strike, but it became a social movement. The people who banged on pans for weeks were no longer students.

Sylvain Lemay

While the government of Jean Charest was defeated that year, the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) was only penitent for two years and was re-elected in 2014. Thus, even if the movement is important in the eyes of those who lived through it, did the 2012 student strike have a real political impact in Quebec?

“Awareness has been raised. There are people who have been trained in political education. It's a good thing, “says Sylvain Lemay, admitting in the same breath that there were no major political reforms thereafter.

Illustrated History

An interesting element in the technique used by André St-Georges for the illustrations is the desire to keep the penciling , even after inking.

“Honestly, inking always made me sweat a bit,” he says. I find my pencil drawing to be more alive and vibrant. For a while, I totally thought I wouldn't do any inking for this book.”

He eventually decided to ink his drawings, to add contrast, but instead of erasing his doodle he decided to keep it.

I thought it was important that people feel my pencil stroke. I didn't want to lose this warmth.

André St-Georges

Another graphic characteristic of Rouge avril is the absence of speech bubbles (the bubbles containing dialogue).

“It's one more graphic element that can interfere with reading, which can be disruptive,” explains Sylvain Lemay.

“On the first boards, I tried to go with speech bubbles”, mentions André St-Georges.

Finally, the illustrator preferred to keep the approach without speech bubbles already present in To end with november, in order to maintain a certain continuity, to remain in the same graphic and narrative universe as their previous collaboration.

The Rouge avril comic strip has been on sale in bookstores since 22&nbsp ;February.

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