Coming this fall from Stacked Deck Press, A Good Sport is a graphic memoir from French cartoonist Soizick Jaffre!
The book details the author's participation in the 2018 Gay Games, her lifelong pursuit of athletics, and the history surrounding the Gay Games themselves! This story is told with Jaffre's colorful, energetic, and sometimes surreal artwork! Sign up for email updates about the upcoming crowdfunding campaign for A Good Sport on Zoop today! CLICK ON THE BUTTON
Mon roman graphique sur les Gay Games et le sens de la vie sera publié par Stacked Deck Press, USA À venir cet automne chez Stacked Deck Press, A Good Sport est un mémoire graphique de l'artiste auteure française Soizick Jaffre !
Ce roman graphique raconte sa participation aux Gay Games 2018, son rapport au jeu et au sport tout au long de sa vie, l'olympisme, l'universalisme, et l'histoire des Gay Games! Le tout dans le style coloré, énergique et parfois surréaliste de l'auteure ! Inscrivez-vous dès aujourd'hui pour recevoir des mises à jour par e-mail sur la prochaine campagne de financement participatif pour A Good Sport sur Zoop! CLIQUEZ SUR LE BOUTON
"My experience of the Paris Gay Games 10 in 2018 was extremely positive and emotional due to the presence of athletes from all over the world. I discovered the true meaning of the games which was to create bridges. I had no idea my story would actually turn into a memoir about finding myself.
As a self-taught comic artist, I write and I draw in this medium that I have fully embraced to tell unique stories. I see comic writing similar to the structure of quilt making which is an inspiration to my creative process.
In the end, I hope readers will enjoy entering my poetic visual maze and access the emotional message of the book one piece at a time. The intricacy of the patterns requires an attention to detail. My work is like geometry, not just numbers. It’s not accounting, it’s a game. It’s about creating the lines, shapes and surfaces that will encapsulate my message.
The result, hopefully, is a complexity of meaning that mirrors the complexity of the human experience. I trust that readers will relate to my emotional experience as the story I am sharing is universal and about freedom."
Paris, November 2023
"A Good Sport is a graphic memoir written and drawn by French cartoonist Soizick Jaffre, detailing her participation in the 2018 Gay Games, her lifelong love of athletics, and her own personal search for freedom. This memoir is visually rich with Jaffre's colorful, expressive illustration style that runs the gamut from realistic portrayal to eye-popping surrealism. A Good Sport deftly balances both personal and world history to paint a picture of feminist triumph and queer self-determination.
Jaffre's journey takes her from the beaches of France to the streets of Saigon, from the cafes of Tel Aviv to the bowling alleys of America. Along the way we learn some of the history of the Gay Games and their origins in Olympian Tom Waddell's fight against discrimination. We also see how the Games provide a gathering point for a world of queer athletes whose drive to compete is also an expression of their personal struggles for equal rights in their home countries. Throughout A Good Sport, Jaffre makes the connection between one's right to participate in a chosen sport and the "game of freedom" that we all must play to become our best selves.
A Good Sport is a full-color trade paperback over 150 pages in length, published by award-winning imprint Stacked Deck Press. It features an introduction by cartoonist and comics scholar Justin Hall and a foreword by Gay Games organizer Pascale Reinteau. A Good Sport has something to inspire, inform, and delight readers from all walks of life."
Tara Madison Avery - Stacked Deck Press
Tara Madison Avery is a cartoonist, illustrator, editor, and the publisher of Stacked Deck Press
She is also a board member of the nonprofit organization Prism Comics
California, November 2023
INTRODUCTION TO THE GRAPHIC NOVEL "A GOOD SPORT"
by Justin Hall, Cartoonist, Producer of the documentary No Straight Lines,
Nobody makes comics like Soizick Jaffre. In comics, or any other medium for that matter, it’s rare to find a truly singular voice, but you’re witnessing one speaking with confidence and power on these pages. A Good Sport is an iconoclastic, queer, sports memoir, as well as a historical essay fever-dream resplendent with surreal imagery. It’s like nothing else out there and I, for one, am living for it.
The technical aspects of this book stand out, of course: the precise draftsmanship; the dynamic page compositions that utilize the grid and then break it apart depending on the aesthetics of the chapter; the chunky, expressive inking and richly conceived textures; the carefully crafted but expressive lettering; the hallucinatory colors. And then there’s the absurdist imagery, where dense, colored clouds float across landscapes littered with bicycles and bowling pins. Where lush environments are populated by athletic figures, some looming over the horizon or lying half-submerged in the waves. Where birds erupt from the sides of the panels, shouting at the characters to “have fun!”
Jaffre weaves together elements of memoir, biography, and historical essay into a dense fabric. The personal is political and the political is personal; her individual experience of the Gay Games gives context, and is given context by, the history of the event, the biography of its founder, important moments in LGBTQ rights around the world, and conversations with a Ugandan lesbian athlete, among other things. A Good Sport floats like a bird and stings like a bee, moving between these various narrative elements while continually striking at themes of building community and finding personal empowerment for queer people in sports.
Time and location are important throughout the book, even as various landscapes often blur together in a kaleidoscope of imagery. In the chapter “Celebration,” Jaffre exhaustively covers the various cities that have hosted the Gay Games since their inception while at the same time displaying the important developments in global queer rights that were happening concurrently. In the midst of this documentation, she comes running at us from the bottom of the page describing the 2018 Games in Paris, saying, “We’ve come a long way!” while a bird flies behind her, shouting, “It’s our turn!” The reader gets a prodigious amount of information, but Jaffre always finds a way to connect it back to personal experience.
Easter eggs abound in A Good Sport for readers in the know. As a San Franciscan, I was thrilled to see iconography from the city’s queer history appear in the backgrounds in fascinating ways; the Compton’s Cafeteria of San Francisco’s infamous riot (where drag queens and trans women burnt cop cars three years before Stonewall) becomes a bowling alley as Jaffre learns the sport, and the figures and signs from the pro-drag protests in the 1960s emerge to challenge the homophobia confronting the Gay Games. San Francisco is an important city to Jaffre and her homages to the city’s rich history are thoughtful and well-researched. This points to the level of care and deliberation behind all the densely layered visual images in this remarkable book.
Jaffre’s depictions of queer bodies playing sports are celebratory, complex, and colorful. Her characters take command of the page, moving with a muscular confidence that’s thrilling to see, especially for queer readers. After all, most LGBTQ people have a challenging and often traumatic early relationship with the hyper-gendered world of sports, such as my personal experience as a gay boy afraid to change in the locker room.
Jaffre illustrates her own early tensions with sports with a heartfelt urgency. As a child, she was ostracized by boys playing the physical games in which she wanted to participate. Then as a young woman, when she was able to enter the masculine sporting world and excel, she was told that she was “good for a girl.” She finally achieves a bit of catharsis when she’s complimented by a surfing mentor on how she’s able to catch a wave; it’s a tellingly rare moment when a man talks about her body in a way that isn’t gendered but simply about its usefulness as a tool.
But of course, the truly transcendent moments are when she is able to play sports with other lesbians and queer people, an environment without ridicule, bullying, or ostracization, which points the way towards the utopian possibilities of sports, games, and play. After all, lurking in the corners of the pages of A Good Sport is a call to arms: We can create a sporting culture, even beyond the Gay Games, that is inclusive, supportive, and liberatory. That is not about winners and losers, but rather, as Jaffre’s birds remind us, about fun and freedom.
So much of this book is populated by Jaffre’s own unique vocabulary, a rich blend of allegorical imagery and personal references that the reader isn’t supposed to understand as much as be engulfed by. Certain images are repeated again and again, giving them a thematic weight as the story returns to its favorite moments and concepts from different perspectives. We are privy to private jokes and insider knowledge which, ever if we can’t always completely understand or uncover them, create an incredibly engaging tapestry.
In a few key scenes, Jaffre draws herself as a bird or a woman with a bird’s head. “I am a bird – and a girl,” she writes over an image of herself as a child scrambling over a log on a beach with another child, a white sea bird hovering in the intensely blue sky above her. Without any overt explanation from Jaffre, the statement has that ring of truth that only a memoir done both authentically and poetically can produce. We feel Jaffre’s struggle with gender expectations, with the need to use her young body for sport rather than for decoration or as an object for heteronormative desire, in this imaginative blurring of identity. It is the bird in Jaffre that can demand that we all “play the game of freedom.”
The birds completely take over the final page of A Good Sport in a gorgeous and poetic series of illustrations set on the rainy beaches of Olerón Island where Jaffre lives now, half-singing the lyrics of the Byrds' iconic song Turn! Turn! Turn! Jaffre returns to a favorite theme of the book, where she questions whether winners and losers exist at all in games that ultimately bring us together, especially as queer people struggling with the injustices of the world. “As for me,” she writes in text hanging over a long-billed bird perched on a wet beach, “I finished this book. So, I win.” And we readers, who have been at Jaffre’s side during her journey both as a queer athlete and as an artist creating this masterful, vibrant, surprising graphic novel, we win as well.
San Francisco, November 2023