Within Joann Sfar’s extremely diverse and prolific comics production, intertextuality constitutes a recurrent device by which an unusually erudite cartoonist weaves in, recycles, and reworks a multitude of literary, philosophical, and pictorial references inside his own whimsical creations. This essay focuses on a micro-sequence from one of Sfar’s early works, his imaginary biography of the Franco-Bulgarian modernist painter Pascin (written between 1997 and 1999, and initially published by L’Association in six short fascicles between 2000 and 2002), in an attempt to explore the various dimensions of Sfar’s habitual borrowing from external sources and integration thereof into his idiosyncratic universe.
A two-page passage of Pascin  (181-182) rewrites Ernest Hemingway’s ‘With Pascin at the Dôme,’ the famous description of his encounter with the painter in A Moveable Feast (81-86), Hemingway’s diary account of his experiences as a young expatriate writer in 1920s Paris. Unlike Hemingway’s chronicle of the event, the scene depicted by Sfar is told from Pascin’s point of view, and the extent to which Sfar takes liberties with the intertextual material and reverses not only its perspective, but also the portrayal of the two protagonists, is striking. Contrary to Hemingway’s account, in which Pascin waves to invite him to his table , in this version, it is Hemingway who initiates the encounter and intrudes upon the scene, as he ‘stops by to say hello’ to the painter, who is having drinks with two beautiful models at the Café du Dôme, a frequent Montparnasse hangout for 1920s bohemian artists who often referred to themselves as ‘Les Dômiers.’ The young American writer, initially anonymous, then identified parenthetically as Ernest Hemingway, is presented as a sweaty, overweight man with red ears and a mustache, a far cry from the ‘tall, handsome, muscular, broad-shouldered, brown-eyed, rosy-cheeked, square-jawed, soft-voiced young man’ described by his biographer Jeffrey Meyers (Meyers 70). In a sequence of four frames, Sfar summarizes the interaction among Hemingway, Pascin, and the two models in a manner that efficiently synthesizes the writer’s original account, but also distorts it considerably.
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