Alice Guy: First Lady of Film
Words by José-Louis Bocquet
Art by Catel Muller
Paperback with flaps, 400 pp, $23.99
In 1895, the Lumière brothers invented the cinematograph. Less than a year later, 23-year-old Alice Guy, the first female filmmaker in cinema history, made The Cabbage Fairy, a 60-second movie, for Léon Gaumont, going on to direct over 300 films before 1922.
Her life is a shadow history of early cinema, the chronicle of an art form coming into its own. A free and independent woman, rubbing shoulders with luminaries such as Georges Méliès and the Lumières, she was the first to define the professions of screenwriter and producer. She directed the first feminist satire, then the first sword-and-sandal epic, before crossing the Atlantic in 1907 to become the first woman to found her own production company in New Jersey. Alice Guy died in 1969, excluded from the annals of film history.
In 2011, Martin Scorsese honoured this cinematic visionary, “forgotten by the industry she had helped create”, describing her as “a filmmaker of rare sensitivity, with a remarkable poetic eye and an extraordinary feel for locations”. The same can be said of Catel & Bocquet’s luminous account of her life.
José-Louis Bocquet is a novelist and comic book writer. His comics career, which began in the pages of Métal Hurlant, has seen him collaborate with artists Serge Clerc, Arno, Max, Philippe Berthet, Francis Vallès, Andréas Geffe, Stanislas and Steve Cuzor. He is also the author of monographs devoted to Henri-Georges Clouzot, Georges Lautner, André Franquin and René Goscinny. Since 2008, José-Louis Bocquet has been running the Aire Libre imprint for French publishing house Dupuis.
Catel Muller is an award-winning comics artist and illustrator. With Christian De Metter, she co-authored Le Sang des Valentines, which won the People's Choice First Prize at Angoulême in 2005. She is also the creator of Lucie (with Véronique Grisseaux) and the illustrator of Marion, a children's comic written by Fanny Joly. Heroines, both great and small, are a constant feature of her books, whose subjects have included the singer Édith Piaf, actors Mireille Balin and Mylène Demongeot and the writer Benoîte Groult. With José-Louis Bocquet, she created the acclaimed graphic biographies Kiki de Montparnasse, Olympe de Gouges and Josephine Baker.
"This is definitely one for those who love film, as well as for those who love graphic novels — and an absolute must for those who love both."— Morning Star
"An under-recognized genius of silent film returns to life in this spirited graphic biography from French comics duo Catel & Bocquet"— Publishers Weekly
"Alice Guy deserves greater recognition, and Catel & Bocquet make a fine contribution to that."— Slings and Arrows