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Enki Bilal

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The Nikopol Trilogy (1980 - 1992) - Enki Bilal
[FR] [DE] [UK]

image sourced here.

La Ville qui n'existait pas (The Town That Didn't Exist) (1977)
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Enki Bilal (born October 7, 1951) is a cartoonist and film director.

Born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, he moved to Paris at the age of 9. He met René Goscinny at the age of 14, and at his encouragement tried turning his talent to comic books. He worked on Goscinny's magazine Pilote in the 1970s, publishing his first story in 1972: Le Bol Maudit.

He began working with script writer Pierre Christin in 1975 on a series of separate tales, with a surreal or dark nature.

The Nikopol trilogy (La Foire aux Immortels, La Femme Piège and Froid Equateur) took more than a decade to appear but is probably Bilal at his best, writing the script as well as doing all the artwork - the final chapter even managed to be awarded the book of the year award by the very serious magazine Lire.

His latest publication has been 32 Décembre (2003), the second book in another trilogy this time dealing with the breakup of former Yugoslavia but from the future. The first installement came in 1998 in the shape of Le Sommeil du Monstre opening with the main character, Nike, remembering the war in a series of traumatic flashbacks...

His cinematic career has recently been revived with the expensive Immortel, Ad Vitam which is his first attempt to adapt his books to the screen. The film has split critics, some panning the use of CGI characters but others have seen it as a faithful reinterpretation of the books. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enki_Bilal [Apr 2005]


Enki Bilal was born in the former Yugoslavia but he moved early in his life to Paris, France. He has drawn a lot of sci-fi cartoons but the social critical tendencies are typical to all of his works. He has been in a very fruitful collaboration with the scenarist P.Christin. The album Froid Équateur is the third part of the Nikopol trilogy, and was chosen as "The book of the year" in France, the first cartoon book ever to achieve this honour. Bilal's style is very elaborate and visual, and the grave atmosphere is characteristic to all his works, especially the ones that directly criticize political systems.

A page from the album Partie de Chasse, demonstrating Bilal's typical layout. The book "Hunting party" was a sensation when it was published, and it marked the beginning of a new genre of cartoons. The leaders of the Soviet Block gather to a remote place for a hunting trip. During the trip, the history of violence and subjugation begins to unfold through the conversations and flashbacks. Combining fact and fiction, Bilal creates an uncanny portrait of the demoralizing effect of power.

The underground of Paris of the next century: astronauts, aliens, destruction, ancient Egyptian gods, rotten political systems and violence make a great mixup in the first book of the Nikopol trilogy. From La Foire aux immortels.

Gore-filled hallucinations invade the life of a woman whose relationship with an alien breaks abruptly in the second part of the Nikopol trilogy. From La Femme piège © 1988 by Les Humanoïdes accosiés.

Bilal seems to be another fan of Gaudían architecture. Opening scene from the book La ville que n'existait pas. Another book with social critics. This time a benefactress fullfills the dreams of the workers of an industrial village. The allegory is easy to point out.


The Nikopol Trilogy (1980 - 1992) - Enki Bilal
[FR] [DE] [UK] The Nikopol Trilogy brings together three previously published volumes Carnival of Mortals, Woman Trap and Cold Equator all impressive works of imagination meticulously written, drawn and colored by European comics artist Bilal. It's the year 2023 and Alcide Nikopol has been revived from a state of suspended animation after 30 years orbiting Earth. In the meantime, the planet has suffered two nuclear wars, and France is ruled by the ruthless dictator J.F. Choublanc. The immortal gods of Egyptian antiquity have also reawakened to revive their rule over humanity, and they now hover above the crumbling technopolis of Paris in a massive stone pyramid/airship. Horus, the renegade falcon god, takes possession of Nikopol's body, rendering him immortal, and concocts a conspiracy to overthrow the Choublanc regime. When Nikopol cracks under the pressure of Horus's possession, he is reduced to muttering the poetry of Baudelaire while he wanders the halls of a mental hospital. "Woman Trap" picks up two years later in a war-torn London. Blue-haired news correspondent Jill Bioskop dispatches stories 30 years into the past using a device called a scriptwriter, while she takes pills to eradicate the bloody memories of men she has murdered. In "Cold Equator" the story is further complicated as Nikopol's son boards a train bound for Equator City, an African metropolis afflicted with a freezing micro-climate of minus-six degrees, but surrounded by desert and surrealistically populated by sub-Saharan wildlife. Intricate plot twists and stunning color artwork mark this work as both an extraordinary comics literary achievement and a crackling good story. --Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. via amazon.com

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