A strange journey

CERN has certainly had plenty written about it over the years but who would have thought that it would one day be the subject of a dark comic book? That's just what's happened, though, with the publication of "Sous-sol" by two cartoonists from Geneva, Pierre Wasem and Tom Tirabosco. 

Pierre Wasem and Tom Tirabosco are freelance cartoonists from Geneva. During a trip to Sarajevo, they came up with the idea of working together on a three-part comic book, the first of which they entitled "La fin du monde" (The End of the World). "Sous-sol" (Basement) is the second part of the trilogy, which will shortly be completed with "Sur la lune" (On the Moon).

Pierre Wasem, who wrote the script for "Sous-sol", has been mad about drawing since his early childhood. "I didn't have a television when I was a boy. My friends told me the stories of Captain Harlock, Captain Future, etc., and I created my own cartoons based on what they told me", says Pierre. "The job of a cartoonist is a lonely one. I would compare it to the task of a monk scribe of old: slow and repetitive, even gruelling".

Tom Tirabosco, who did the drawings for "Sous-sol", gained a "Maturité" diploma in the arts before going on to study at Geneva's Ecole des Beaux Arts. He published his first book, for children, 13 years ago. Tom and Pierre have been cartoonists for 20 years.

The cover page of the "Sous-sol" comic book.

A few months ago, Pierre visited CERN with a photographer. After talking to Tom, the two of them decided to include a comic book about CERN in their trilogy. Their basic idea was to talk about particles and anti-particles, so CERN was an ideal source of inspiration. "Although I'd never been to CERN I was able to draw part of the LHC tunnel from the many photos taken during Pierre's visit to the Laboratory", explains Tom.

"Sous-sol" is a dark comic book, in which dream and reality are intermingled throughout and science is associated with fear of the unknown. "Science explores what we have yet to discover and we are always afraid of things we don't understand", says Pierre. In "Sous-sol", science and fiction are so closely intertwined that the reader can no longer tell the difference between them. "I like being plunged from an ordinary situation into another dimension", he says.

Although the two cartoonists consulted scientists to make their story more plausible, readers will notice that some situations are quite far removed from scientific reality. But cartoons have to be entertaining, and "Sous-sol" will not disappoint here. "In creating our comic book we wanted to tell a story, take our readers by the hand and take them on a strange journey..."

by Laëtitia Pedroso