The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs

Written by Etienne Davodeau | Translated by Joe Johnson | March 15, 2013
The Initiates
(NBM Publishing Company, March 2013)

A graphic novel that explores the nature of one’s vocation, this book offers a look at the daily devotion to craft in two dissimilar professions. Étienne Davodeau is a comic artist—he doesn’t know much about the world of winemaking. Richard Leroy is a winemaker—he’s rarely even read comics. But filled with good will and curiosity, the two men exchange professions, and Étienne goes to work in Richard’s vineyards and cellar, while Richard, in return, leaps into the world of comics. Providing a true-life representation of how both professions work, this insightful book investigates two fascinating fields, exploring each man’s motivations and ultimately revealing that their endeavors and aspirations are not much different.


This intensely thought-provoking graphic novel makes us pause to consider our relationships with other people and asks us to think about who we are, what we do, and how we perceive and relate to the world around us. Davodeau (Le Constat) approaches wine maker Richard Leroy with a proposition: that the two spend several months together teaching one another about their respective vocations. Leroy would read graphic novels, attend conventions, and meet people in the industry, while Davodeau would learn the ins and outs of harvesting a grape crop and running a vineyard. Those perusing the opening pages may wonder whether the book will simply be an exercise in telling, with the “experts” explaining to one another—and therefore to us—the day-to-day concerns of their profession. Instead, what comes through clearly is that both men genuinely appreciate others whose attitudes and principles decidedly differ from their own. Davodeau reinforces this idea of quiet appreciation with a muted color palette, as well as through his consummate skill in illustrating moments of careful consideration and reflection so important to both of his characters’ vocations.
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 04/01/13

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