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Comic Book / Les Femmes en blanc

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Les Femmes en blanc ("The Women in White") is a Franco-Belgian Comics series created and written by Raoul Cauvin with art by Philippe Bercocivi. It began in 1986 and is ongoing with 31 volumes so far.

The stories are set in a hospital and involve nurses (the eponymous women in white) and doctors.


Tropes include:

  • Acquitted Too Late: In a story, a man is sentenced to be killed by the guillotine; he is expecting a pardon (likely from the President) and it eventually comes... just after he has been executed. He is sent to hospital emergency where Doctor Minet manages to save him, except he had to "choose" between his head or the rest of his body. Thus, his severed head keeps on living on its own.
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  • Anyone Can Die: Some gags end with patients dying.
  • Art Evolution: The art has evolved a LOT from the first issues. It started out as very cartoonish small people with huge noses and googly eyes, until it has gotten to the semi-realistic iconic sketchy Bercocivi trait.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Oh, so many times. This is due to Rule of Funny, of course. How else could:
    • ... a severed head keep on living by itself, still capable of talking, drinking and smoking?
    • ... legs transplanted from a ballerina onto another man still dance by themselves to ballet music?
    • ... a severed foot keep on living by itself because it "still has a heartbeat"?
    • ... a patient get a rabbit/monkey stomach transplanted on him and only be able to eat carrots/peanuts from then on?
  • Author Filibuster: It is expressed several times that being a nurse is terrible and stressful job, and that young women should do something else instead.
  • Black Comedy:
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    • One gag has the father of a family choke on his food. The mother suggests to call an ambulance, but the daughter, who studies medicine, tells her to wait, because she just happened to have studied what to do in such a situation. She runs upstairs to search her notes, which takes a while. She eventually finds them. Cut to the last panel, where they stand next to his grave, muttering: "You know your father, he could never wait."
    • Another gag has a rebellious teenage son defend himself against his father. The reason? He enlisted himself for organ donor transplant, which the father feels is horrible. Disgruntled the son goes to the hospital, signs himself up and then gets a car accident on his return home. Instead of saving him the doctors decide to use all his body parts for donor transplants! Should also count as a Broken Aesop, because what is the message, exactly? Enlisting for donor transplants will result in doctors rather use your organs for other patients than save your own life?
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    • One nurse complained as to why they have to wear the same white nurse uniforms everyday. So the next day, she comes in bikini. This cause an elderly patient to get overly excited and he dies from a heart attack.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A lot of the humor relies on this.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: A restaurant called "The Laughing Slug" is shown during a story to have caused many patients to be sent to the hospital because of their bad food. Becomes a Brick Joke at the end.
  • Crossover: Pierre Tombal the gravedigger, from his eponymous series. It was also written by Cauvin.
  • Dr. Jerk: Doctor Minet is one of the recurring protagonists. Most of the time, he does quite nasty things.
  • Everything's Messier with Pigs: A patient gets pig organs transplanted on him, and he increasingly begins to act dirty and messy.
  • Eyepatch of Power: When a nurse tries to get eyes to be transplanted, she goes to an eye bank, and the employee gives her several options, such as a single eye with an eyepatch. The joke is that the eye is Israeli - referring at the time to famous Israeli general Moshe Dayan who wore an eyepatch.
  • Formerly Fat: A patient, Robert, managed to lose 167 kilograms in 15 days, following a specific diet. His main problem after this was the excess skin... and after getting it removed, his tightened skin tearing up at random places.
  • Gallows Humor: The severed head patient keeps making jokes about his condition, such as talking about doing a movie on king Louis XVI.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A patient has had failed laser surgery done on him... and becomes an eunuch at a harem. The joke has probably gone over many children's heads.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Nathalie the nurse, one of the recurring characters, has a blonde ponytail and is one of the nicest characters.
  • Hospital Hottie: Most of the nurses are attractive young women.
    • When the hospitals do a promotion ad for the nurse job, they are forced to recruit a professional glamorous model because the real nurses are not attractive enough or they are always sad/frowny-looking; the only smiling one did so because she was to quit her job!
  • Karma Houdini: A story is about two nurses who blackmail their patients into getting some extra money for cleaning their bed. They get away with it and can afford a new car!
  • Living Statue: A story shows that several men who had a special hardening liquid injected into them - in order to give them lasting muscles - turned completely still and blank, basically living statues whose only "job" was to be exposed at an art gallery.
  • Mercy Kill: A patient inside the hospital has been in a deep coma for more than twenty years. Pulling a lever would turn off the life support and kill him. However, nobody dares to euthanize the patient, and when a new nurse comes in and is presented the patient, she thinks of breaking in the hospital to pull the lever which was the intention of the other nurses, setting her unknowingly into a test. However, she doesn't dare to pull the lever, and the nurses still wish for a newcomer who would do the act.
  • Never My Fault: The mother of a nurse student decides to pick up a suicide victim so that her daughter could practice operating on him. When she tells her that he is already dead, the mother decides to blame her husband - who was very reluctant to the whole thing - for not checking the body well enough.
  • No Sympathy: This can happen to a patient to the point of Dude, Not Funny!.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: The nurses and Doctor Minet have to operate a clown who suffered a stroke. Unfortunately, they had to bring him in a rush and he still has his makeup and costume, so they can't help laughing when looking at him. This causes him to die, but at least he makes the other dead people in the graveyard happy and laughing.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: One patient in an episode happened to be a mermaid. She sang and tried to eat anyone who came close to her. The doctor had to find the right species of fish scales to transplant on her injured tail. In the meantime, he transplanted human legs on her... with ill results.
  • Rule of Funny
  • Running Gag: Being a nurse is HARD work, but being a plumber is so MUCH nicer. Honestly, what do the authors know?
  • Saw a Woman in Half: A patient undergoes laser surgery. He is literally cut in half at the waist. He says his life is over, but in the last panel, is working as a magician's assistant for his body-sawing act.
  • Shout-Out: One gag had a man who was morbidly obese and wanted a liposuction. After they did so he was left with a lot of drooping skin, causing him to cry. A nurse helps him out by sticking the leftover skin into his shirt and golf pants, causing the patient to look like Tintin!
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: An actual mermaid in an episode. When operated on, she sang "Le Temps des Cerises" and enthralled the operating stuff.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: One episode has a female doctor whose patients refuse to be handled by her because she is a woman. Her husband tries to help her ... with bad results.
  • Straw Hypocrite: Doctor Minet is shown to clearly be one in a story: he accidentally kills a patient during a benign operation, feels awful about it, and is cheered up by a colleague who reminds him humans can do mistakes. Almost immediately after, he finds out a nurse got the wrong medecine for a patient, and promptly fires her for it. Even when another nurse tries to defend her by using the same argument that Minet received, he stands by his decision.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: When a receptionist is replaced by a nurse, she suddenly gets a lot of people coming in, including an alien asking her to bring him to her leader.
  • Take Our Word for It: One patient was a man who had a face so ugly and misshapen that it gave his mother a heart attack, made the doctor jump out the window and scared away all his schoolmates. His actual face was never shown to the reader.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: If a patient is told he is going to be only undergoing a "benign" operation, you can bet things are going to get really ugly for him!
  • What the Hell, Costuming Department?: One story had Nathalie the nurse suddenly wear flashy pink tights. For no reason, and this was not referenced. Possibly an Off-Model error.


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