In 1894, French illustrator and cartoonist Caran d'Ache (Emmanuel Poiré) proposed to
draw a 300+ page wordless picture story called Maestro
the letter Caran d'Ache wrote to the editor of Le Figaro proposing the project
(English translation by David Bond). "Well, I have an idea for an innovation which I believe to be of a
nature to excite lively interest amongst the reading-public! And that is?
Quite simply to create a new form: le roman dessiné...
In a word, this has never been done! As for the format, the look of the book,
I envisage a volume which will have the external aspect of a novel by Zola, by
Daudet, by Montépin or by Paul Bourget, priced at 3frs 50c... But the interior!
On the inside, not a line of text! Everything will be expressed by drawings,
about 360 pages of them."
was to be the story of a musical child prodigy,
discovered among peasants and taken to the court of a monarch who would keep the child as a
virtual prisoner for his own personal entertainment. The story follows the Maestro through
adulthood, to the point where he escapes from the palace. Caran d'Ache only drew about
a third of the proposed story. There are gaps in the extant sequences and some pages
are only partially drawn. In 1999 the Centre
National de le Bande Dessinée et l'Image (CNBDI) in Angoulême published the
incomplete work as a hardcover book, edited by Thierry Groensteen. With Groensteen's
permission, Indy Magazine presents the following excerpt from an incomplete chapter in the
pre-history of the graphic novel.