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Comic Book: Philemon

Philémon is a Franco-Belgian comic written by Fred (full name Frédéric Othon Théodore Aristidès) across sixteen volumes published between 1978 and 2013. The story revolves around the titular character Philémon, a lazy lay-about with an overactive imagination and his travels to the mysterious “Lettres de l'Ocean Atlantique”, a chain of mystical islands that form the letters “Ocean Atlantique” (Atlantic Ocean in French) on maps and globes, with rules and physics highly reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland

The series is notable for its highly surreal art and frequent Breaking the Fourth Wall (such as characters manipulating actual panels to move the plot forward). Regarded as one of the most original and poetic Franco-Belgian comics ever written, it has only just begun to be translated out of its native French as of 2014, a year after the author's death.


These works contain examples of:

  • Agent Scully: Philémon's dad. Even after taking a trip to the mystical world of the Letters, he steadfastly refuses to believe any of the outlandish adventures told by Philémon, his uncle Félicien and Barthélémy ever occured
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A defining characteristic of the comic. The position of individual panels is frequently abused and manipulated for its surreal effect, such as a character climbing down from one panel to another or liquid pouring out of the frame onto panels below.
    • An extreme example occurs in during Volume 6 when the plot fails to progress forward and the protagonist can't figure out why they keep passing the same tree over and over again. Turns out the panel containing the next sequence has fallen over and needs to be straightened.
  • Cloudcuckooland: “Le Monde des Lettres” (The World of Letters) itself.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Occurs frequently since each entrance to Le Monde des Lettres can only be used once.
  • Fish out of Water: Philémon in Le Monde des Lettres.
  • Insane Troll Logic: What Le Monde des Lettres frequently runs on.
  • Lazy Bum: Philémon. Spends his days idly wandering the countryside with his donkey Anatole and frequently dodges his chores and dad.
  • Pen Name: Author/artist Fred's full name is Frédéric Othon Théodore Aristidès.
Peter PanFranco-Belgian ComicsQuai d'Orsay

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