No one wants to be the loud, obnoxious, Ugly American who confirms every single negative stereotype that every single European has ever had of us. The idea is to blend in, not attract attention. However, despite our best efforts, at every turn at the cartoon festival in St-Just-al-Martel in France, our small contingent of American cartoonists couldn’t disguise our heritage.
The leader of our group, Daryl Cagle, was the best at projecting a certain Continental sophistication. He had been to the Festival the year before and had learned the trick to appearing world-weary; he knew how to say "bastards!" in French.
French cartoonists would ask, "Dare-eel, what do you zink of zee shut down of American government?"
"Dare-eel, what of zee NSA spy-eeng?"
It covered about half of Daryl’s conversational requirements over the festival’s three days.
The rest of us, however, were unfamiliar with this trick. We had to communicate with our French colleagues through grins, pantomime, and embarrassing silences following what, we thought, were clever bon mots (good "mots"). Curiously, there was little resort to drawing as a means to bridge the gap.
There were also the times when we loudly proclaimed our rube-ness. Bob Engelhart, a cartoonist from Connecticut, was there with his wife, Pat. A dead ringer for a Walter White from "Breaking Bad", Bob and I spent the first meal served us in St. Just (all the meals are communal over the course of the festival, sometimes serving over 300 at a time) praising the quality of the chicken.Next Page >
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