Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Aéropostale pioneers' life reimagined in an alternative history graphic novel

From a SébPhilatélie post in French, Monday September 21st, 2015.

What if the French far right demonstration on February 6th, 1934 got violent enough for the Fourth (Parlementarian) Republic would be overthrown? Britain would get the blame of course :)
Tome 14 cover by Manchu, Oméga, the name of the French fascist movement created by the uchronian authors. To provoke the British, they imagine the French régime would erect a HUGE statue of Joan of Ark by German artist Arno Breker
That's the alternate history - uchronie in French - proposed in three graphic novels by authors Fred Duval, the French graphic uchronist Jean-Pierre Pécau with the assistance of Fred Blanchard.

With three volumes of their anthology series Jour J - D-Day (volumes 14, 18 and 21), they propose the thirties and the Second World War as could have happened if France would have been a fascist régime after 1934, Hitler's Germany was bloodly tamed as soon as the remilitarization of Rhineland and, consequently, the democratic United Kingdom became the main enemy.

All major French politicians, officers, artists and philosophers from our 1930s to 1968 history are reimagined: some as tragic heroes of a dictatorship as they were heroes of the Resistance in our times - especially scientists and airmail pilots ; while others are characterized in an ugly way as the opportunists or the ambitious they were in their young age before becoming wiser men and women intellectuals after World War Two.
Picture of page 4, tome 14 introducing the divergence with Aéropostale's postmarks on cover. The Greek letter Omega being the symbol of the new régime.
And here comes our fictional hero, a pilot of the Aéropostale named Léo Berger, who is lost with his plane and mechanics in the Sahara desert in 1927... saved by fellow pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Imaginary postmarks of the French private airmail company, whose pilots pioneered the routes from Europe to the other side of the Southern Atlantic and of the Andes, help the readers go through time until 1942 when Saint-Ex is killed during a personal night flight near the Channel Islands, launching the accusation by Paris against the British government in order to get a cassus belli and finally finish the One Hundred Year war.

Even if Maza, the illustrator, didn't walk on the full postal realism road, it's nice to see that mail and the airmail pioneers still mark the imagination when one imagine the interwar period.

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