For all intents and purposes, Reiser, who died thirty-five years ago, is completely unknown in the US. Not one of his books has been translated into English. Which is a shame, because not only is he hilariously funny, but no one can do some of the things he did with a drawing pen better.
Resier published in that form of book the French call bande dessinée, which means "comic strip," but which, as is so common with translation, misses something in English. These are books, not something that appears in a newspaper. They're more like our graphic novels or the Japanese anime books. I first discovered Reiser in one of those sprawling lovely bookstores on the Boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris, probabaly Gibert Jeune. (I could write an entire post on that little part of Paris, discoveries made there.)
Reiser is not for everyone. I probably should throw out one of those NPR-like warnings about adult content, etc., but that gets so boring after a while. Resier writes—he does both words and drawings—about sex a lot, and sometimes goes, I find delightfully, into the outer limits (read bestiality and more) of that subject.
What can he do? Well, for one thing, I don't think anyone draws guilt better than Reiser. When he does, it's usually some forlorn man who's done something wrong and is being chastised by a woman, usually his wife. To wit: see the story just below. Basically, a man's wife finds a ticket to a porno movie in his coat. She's angry—and you can see that quite clearly—because he made her buy all sorts of sex toys and lingerie, etc.
Let's look at one of the frames in a close-up to see Reiser drawing guilt only as he can. "It wasn't enough for you all those idiotic things you made me do in front of the mirrors?" she demands. Then she adds, "And that gave me cramps." Look at that guy! How many men have felt that way at one time. I have!
What else could he do? Well, for example, he draws dogs with wit and understanding. Not with all the saccharine friendliness so many writers give them, but often as long-suffering and woebegone. In the case of cats, they can be scheming and vengeful. He draws children singularly, in his inimitable style, always doing more with less.
—that do not in fact need words—as in the story just above. Which means you can enjoy his mastery without knowing a word of French.
There are so many other things he could do wonderfully. And, in a way, he was just hitting his stride. Jean-Marc Reiser died of cancer in 1983. He was just forty-two. I don't know if libraries in the US carry his books. Probably not. But in this case, I hope I'm wrong.