Comics René Lévesque. Something like a big man, based on a script by Marc Tessier and illustrations by some twenty artists, should land in bookstores around December 8. No, this cool album does not claim to trace the entire tumultuous course of the life of the former Quebec premier, alias Ti-Poil for his people. The story comes in 13 stories drawn from his intimacy or his legend. Under multiple pencils with unequal talents, in addition to its quilt blocking the skull, a graphic element returns without respite: the cigarette, pegged in the hand or in the mouth, when it does not consume its ultimate embers in an ashtray.
At war or at the microphone of Point de mire, during the Night of the Long Knives or near Corinne, in front of the living dead of the Dachau camp, through the dreams and the trials of the politician, here it is perpetuated as an undeniable accessory. Ditto for the room pool, at the bar where its scrolls provide a framework for the drawing, as if in the company of heads of state who wrote history alongside him. Looks like his real better half. The tobacco industry was in the business of gold during its lifetime. Moreover, several of his interlocutors were smoking together. Its use is more criticized and less popular today. No alcohol, no tobacco, in the blues of the Good guy. Some still consume. So is life on our magical planet.
But go and deprive a designer of firing the portrait of Lévesque, he who inhaled it so much. We are not there, except that … Bédé for comic, Morris had exchanged the butt in the beak of Lucky Luke for a twig in the mid-1980s. This shows how the debates of the day were born yesterday. I will be told that Lévesque was a real human being and not a cowboy born out of the bitter fantasies of a gifted Belgian. Wean post-mortemthe founder of the PQ would hold the crime of lèse-majesté. I agree with that. But soon, perhaps, creators will erase cigarettes from their lips by pleading a bad example to young people still tempted to burn one. Everything leads us there.
True ! Smoking is not good for your health. And the prevention campaigns have paid off, especially the bad tooth ads on the packages, without deterring all nicotine lovers. The fact remains that this sale remains legal and that the State grows fat with taxes on decried products, without priding itself on consistency. On the other hand, offenses falling squarely under the Criminal Code, assault and murder among others, are represented in art, many disciplines combined. Violence that kills faster than tobacco. But let the shows bleed too, otherwise neither Shakespeare nor Racine would be invited on stage. Targeting cigarettes as a service foil makes it possible to close our eyes to the evils that cannot be censored without too conspicuous revisionism.
Tomorrow, when creators want to evoke the life of the great disappeared Quebec politician, will they really have to remove the piece that sticks out? The comic book on René Lévesque proves that reality can still breathe on paper, even if it is a noxious vapor testifying to the ugly habits of an admired man. Elsewhere, however …
Many artists and columnists will have protested after the recent decision of the Court of Quebec confirming the ban on comedians smoking on stage, despite the dependence of their characters. Three Quebec theaters had been fined after inhaling sage cigarettes on the stage. In the name of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, these establishments brandished the torch of free art, before being thus dismissed. On Wednesday, the members of the Quebec Theater Council adopted a resolution unanimously condemning an aberrant judgment opening the door to the worst abuses in the artistic sphere.
Under media storm, the National Institute of Public Health specified this week wanting above all to protect the artists, the technical team and the staff of the scenic production. Hmm! For minimal risk and even lighting sage stems? After all, as a ritual, many Indigenous ceremonies use the smoke of this plant, in flaming leaves or incense sticks, to purify the atmosphere of a scene, without creating legal banishment.
Cigarettes, with or without tobacco, are an easy nail to knock on for a good palate. Its decline gives it bad genre more than a glass of alcohol, yet likely to be perceived by the public as an invitation to raise its elbow. If, one day, the dryness of manners vanishes, will it be necessary to further obscure the past, so abused these days, to give it an appearance of virtue again? So let art bear witness. Soon, he will be the only one who still wants to risk it.