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Adapting the Rhetoric of Authentication of Riad Sattouf’s La Vie secrète des jeunes

Guillaume Lecomte

Keywords: adaptation; authenticity; caricature; cinematic; comics; non-fiction; Riad Sattouf; truth claims

Abstract

The comic book series La Vie secrète des jeunes is a sardonic account of French young people’s behaviours witnessed from the voyeuristic viewpoint of its author-illustrator, Riad Sattouf. Despite its caricatural and non-photorealistic visual style, the work conveys a strong sense of authenticity, mixing truth claims borrowed from established non-fiction traditions (journalism, autobiography and documentary). It is also a rare example of a non-fiction comic turned into live action. This article considers the comic and its TV adaptation, and discusses film’s ability to adapt an account of truth rooted in comics ontology. The article first provides a theoretical structure that details the intricacy of repeating the truth from comic to film. Second, it highlights the way in which the comic develops its authenticity by constantly reaffirming Sattouf’s presence and subjectivity. The article aims to show that the adaptation anonymises this viewpoint in order to re-construct the authenticity of its reality.

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