Pouvoirpoint is a comic book from 2016 by French artist Erwann Surcouf.
The story takes place in a timeless future, distant but already vintage, where Terrans colonized the neighboring solar systems. We follow the life of a trainee graphic designer on board a large trading spaceship, time for a trip of a few months from Earth to Alpha Centauri.
On an absurd tone, we discover with him the life of the ship, between office everyday life and major science fiction themes (hyperspace jumps, alien threat).
The story is divided into ten chapters, from boarding to the arrival. But in the prologue and interspersed between each coloured chapter, furious black and white scenes occur, telling the end of the story: shooting and explosions burst, the ship and the characters seem in very bad posture, nothing goes.
The whole story of Pouvoirpoint could be summed up in one question: how did they get there?
Pouvoirpoint contains examples of:
- Ascetic Aesthetic:
- The starship Entreprise-2061 is one big gray floating block, no frills. Interiors are bare and functionnal, when not inspired by Verner Panton's design.
- And Tanguy the robot is tangram-shaped, made only of black geometric shapes.
- Beeping Computers: Lots of machinery doing mup-mup, split-split, uuui-uuui... Also billions of twinkling buttons and surrealistic jargon.
- Blob Monster: The menacing and elusive Proximians are one-eyed blobs, with sharp teeth.
- Chekhov's Gun: The main character receives training to handle a rifle called Chekhov Gun, which will of course be dramatically useful in the climax scene...
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: All is frenchified to the extreme, from the title ("Pouvoirpoint" is the literal translation of "Powerpoint") to the lyrics of various songs ("Daddy Cool" becomes "Papa Frais", "Welcome to the machine" becomes "Bienvenue dans la machine")...
- Fantastic Drug:
- Various drugs with psychedelic effects are inhaled using a narghile, including a narcotic from Venus called PXL (the more you're high, the more you're pixilated), and Demoulax, which plunges the main character into highly hallucinatory dreams.
- During New Year's Eve, pills called En-fêtes are available at the buffet, producing mild effects on the speech bubbles spoken by the characters (one will have reversed text, another will have hairy speech bubbles...).
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Used several times during the trip from Earth to Alpha Centauri.
- Father Neptune: Quint, the grumpy chief cook, obviously based on Sam Quint from Jaws. This one-eyed and one-armed sea-dog has been through a lot, although we learn at the end that Every Scar Has a Story...
- Fictional Media: Everyone on the ship seems to be passionate about a telenovela called Rococo mon coco, an endless and repetitive series set in a kitsch 18th century.
- Fictional Video Game: On several occasions we see the characters playing a video game called Death Race in non-Euclidean environment (visually inspired by 1979 Commodore PET game Ratrun). To defeat the boss Sly Lozenge, the player must find the Power Polyhedron, which activates Hyperbolic Crystals. This raises the specter of the Rectangle of the Mountain, who gives the player Symplectic Invincibility...
- They also play an unnamed 8-bit fighting game, with a red fighter against a blue fighter. Lots of ButtonMashing is involved...
- Future Music: Dominique, the musician girl, is part of a martian band called Barsoompolis.
- When alone, under the alias of Barsoomlady she plays music she defines as "shlamy vector-rock a bit baroque," and brings cumbersome instruments at parties.
- And one of his favorite band is famous Lycra Massacra, who plays "experimental loboto-glam", precursors of "electro-umlaut", and whose record of their legendary live on planet Hyperion is illustrated by Nine Jaloute.
- Food Pills: Besides the regular canteen meals, there are distributors of pills (mostly stimulants, inhibitors, tranquilizers) served with beef flavor, sugar flavor, extra-sugar flavor, fresh flavor...
- Hologram: The starship is occasionally visited by the crew of another vessel, in the form of glitching holograms. The main character himself makes a visit to the other ship in a holographic way.
- Naïve Newcomer: We discover the life aboard through the main character.
- Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: All screens onboard display geometric or wireframe graphics, and crappy screensavers.
- Space Is an Ocean: A radio channel broadcasts every night the spaceshipping forecast, which mixes real navy terms with the lexical field of the cosmos (Kuiper belt, Dogger, Cromarty, occasional solar wind sector T veering sector W... Sector Proxima 7 to severe magnetic storm 9)...
- Vast Bureaucracy: The ship Entreprise-2061 is nothing but a big flying administrative corporation. The main character must complete a several meters long boarding form, fills more and more pointless documents (attestations each time he is going to lunch at the canteen), not to mention all the paperwork related to his work.
- Virtual Training Simulation: Because of the growing threat of proximian attack, the crew has to follow a self-defense training in the gym room, as a Capture the Flag game in a virtual jungle. Players wear big VR glasses and use Amiga joysticks.