The codes of comic books

Inspired by the exhibition ‘The Palace of Versailles in Comic Books,’ this online show gives visitors an opportunity to learn more about the creative techniques of the “ninth art.”

By Palace of Versailles

From Paris to Versailles for the Foutains Show (1842) (1910) by Albert FeuillastrePalace of Versailles

Sequential art
From an art theory perspective, comic books are defined as a sequential form:

a succession of figurative images which, taken together, tell a story.

By this definition, works such as the series of lithographic prints produced by Albert Feuillastre – presenting humorous depictions of day trips from Paris to Versailles in 1842 – are pioneers of the comic form.

Revolution, volume 1, Freedom, boards 76 and 77 (2019) by Florent Grouazel and scenario by Younn LocardPalace of Versailles

Anatomy of a panel
Do you know the origin of the division into boxes of a comic book page?

The practice of dividing the page into strips and boxes can be traced back to the early days of comics, when they would appear in newspapers.

This modular format allowed editors to maintain the narrative sequence if the layout needed to be changed to accommodate other content on the page.

As the standing of the medium evolved, the composition of panels gradually broke free from such formatting constraints.

Authors are now free to play with the format of their panels, making them as dynamic and varied as they wish. This is a fine example, with the street-side façade of the Palace spread across two pages in order to capture its immensity and convey the scale of the crowd.

Voleurs d’empires, volume 6, La Semaine sanglante, board 17 (1999) by Martin Jamar and scenario by Jean DufauxPalace of Versailles

CMYK printing
How do colors bring a comic book story to life? 

Comic strips were long associated with the CMYK printing method, requiring each image to be split into four layers corresponding to black and the three primary colours – cyan, magenta and yellow – which can be mixed to obtain a vast chromatic palette.

Inked version of the board Voleurs d’empires, volume 6, La Semaine sanglante, board 17 by Martin Jamar and scenario by Jean DufauxPalace of Versailles

This technique led to a separation of labour between the initial inking of the panel, in black and white, and the colouring, performed separately using a copy of the original drawing printed in shades of blue or grey, which could be easily removed later on.

Colored version of the board Voleurs d’empires, volume 6, La Semaine sanglante, board 17 (1999) by Martin Jamar and scenario by Jean DufauxPalace of Versailles

In some cases, the separation of these successive steps led to a division of labour between illustrator, inker and colourist. Here, illustrator Martin Jamar is shown doing his own inking and colouring.

Voleurs d’empires, volume 6, La Semaine sanglante, board 17 (1999) by Martin Jamar and scenario by Jean DufauxPalace of Versailles

Mémoires de Marie-Antoinette, volume 1, Versailles, board 124 (2017) by Isa Python and scenario by Noël SimsoloPalace of Versailles

Versailles in the feminine
While some authors have focused on historical figures such as Marie-Antoinette or Olympe de Gouges, others have chosen to rewrite history by inserting new characters – real or imagined, female and sometimes feminist – into their tales of Versailles. From narrative structure to the rewriting and reinterpretation of history, considering issues of gender raises broader questions about the status of women in comic books. This conference also provided an opportunity to discuss the status of women authors in the current comic landscape.

The palace of Versailles in comics books : Versailles feminine (2021-02-02) by Palace of VersaillesPalace of Versailles

Conference recorded at the Palace of Versailles in September 2020, with contributions from:
- Patricia Lyfoung, author of ‘La Rose Ecarlate’
- Isa Python, illustrator of ‘Mémoires de Marie-Antoinette’
- Sonia Déchamps, Joint Director of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.

From Paris to Versailles for the Foutains Show (1842) (1910) by Albert FeuillastrePalace of Versailles

Keep on learning about Versailles thanks to the virtual exhibition The palace of Versailles in comic books

Credits: Story

Palace of Versailles

Yves Carlier, National Heritage Curator and curator of this exhibition
Jacques-Erick Piette, Cultural Outreach Director, curator of this exhibition


Ariane de Lestrange, Director of Communication
Paul Chaine, Deputy Director of Communication, Head of the Digital Development Department
Gaëlle Bertho, Digital Project Manager, creator of the virtual exhibition

This virtual exhibition is inspired by the exhibition ‘, held at the Palace in Autumn 2020.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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