Today I’d like to welcome Christa @ More Than Just Magic, who is a fellow comic book fan! The graphic novel she is reviewing for Paris Month is one that we both picked up last year at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival!
I’m a 24 year old lover of speculative fiction and Canadian literature. I’m also an aspiring fantasy author. This blog is where I keep all my thoughts on the books I read, the movies I watch and my own writing. I also have a vegetarian food blog called Veggietropolis. I’m a professional Fangirl, Nerdfighter, Ravenclaw, Whovian, Trekkie and fighter for the Rebel Alliance. Oh and so hopelessly Sherlocked.
Photo & Bio from MoreThanJustMagic.org
The story of Kiki de Montparnasse is both an admirable and a tragic one.
The back of the book describes her as “one of the first emancipated women of the 20th century.” And the authors of this graphic novel, certainly make that case. But when all was said and done I found myself wondering if that was the most accurate description of the Queen de Montparnasse.
Kiki (born Alice Prin) is the definition of coming from nothing. Born an illegitimate child in a small French village, her mother ran off to Paris, leaving her to be raised by her very poor grandmother. She was a bit of a wild child – running unencumbered through the streets. But when she was twelve they could no longer afford the extra mouth and sent her off to Paris to live with her mother. Unable to live the way her distant mother wanted her to, she began to pursue her own unique lifestyle as model to some of the greatest artists of the early 20th century. And this is where the admirable part of her story kicks off.
She began posing for artists like Soutine, Foujita, Cocteau, Slazar and Man Ray. She came from nothing and built the image she wanted for herself. She became a model, a dancer, a singer, an actress and an artist. There was seemingly nothing that was out of reach. At this point in her life I can see how the authors would see her as one of the first emancipated women. She took charge of her own finances, sexuality and needs.
In the end however she kind of spiraled out of control. Drugs, alcohol, crazy mood swings. She was arrested more than once and was prone to very public displays. It’s a shame but also not surprising when looking at other artists at the time. It’s sad when addiction gets in the way of creativity. The second half of Kiki’s story is quite tragic and it made me question how emancipated she really was. She relied heavily on the men in her life to support her. The fact of the matter is she was still so limited by the societal customs of the time.
After reading this graphic novel I was surprised that I had never heard of Kiki before. She was so integrated into the arts in the 1920s. I feel like I should know more about her. Another example of one of history’s forgotten women. This graphic novel does an excellent job shedding light on an interesting and complicated woman. The art is vibrant and full of emotion and captures the spirit of the 1920s and the sometimes bizarre but never boring life of the artists that lived it.