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Page 107: Czernowitz
My grandfather made this photo page for the first chapter of his memoir.
Like many places in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, Papi's hometown has changed names and nationality since his youth, and since he wrote his memoir in the 1970s. Czernowitz became Cernauti under Romanian rule, Chernovtsy under the Soviet Union. It's now Chernivtsi in Ukraine.
Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory is an excellent book by two American university professors whose Jewish parents fled Soviet Chernovtsy in 1945. It explores the fascination the city once known as "The Vienna of the East" exerts on its descendants — "a wonderful gift and a relentless curse," in the words of Aharon Appelfeld in The New Yorker. The poet-in-exile Paul Celan (who drowned himself in the Seine in 1970) called Czernowitz "a place where people and books lived together."
Page 108: Furniture Factory
Here, I've condensed pages of Papi's narrative into a single panel. He wrote much more about his father. This longer excerpt from his memoir contains details that give a sense of the social context and prospects of Jews in the Habsburg Empire:
"My father was, before he married my mother, the manager of a furniture factory and sawmill, which belonged to a baron Grödel. Later he and his brother Josef bought the two enterprises and they became associates. Uncle Josef's wife was Henriette. Her maiden name was Schnabel and she was a cousin of the famous pianist Arthur Schnabel. Josef and Henriette had 4 children: Egon, Olga, Martha and Toni. Egon and Martha lived later in Vienna. Egon was in a prominent position as a director and later as president of a large coal company in Vienna. We had close and friendly contact with them, went often with them on excursions.
...The furniture factory and the sawmill were in Wygoda, near Dolina in the eastern part of the province of Galicia, about 5 hours by train north of Czernowitz. The furniture which was made in the factory was designed by my father, who had a special talent for drawing."
I looked up Baron Groedel, and found out that his family was Jewish. The Groedels made their fortune in the timber business in the late 1800s. This photo shows them in front of their villa in Romania in 1910. Their property was confiscated by the Nazis in the 1930s. The youngest son, Hans, escaped to Canada, where he committed suicide in 1945.
Page 108: My Great-Grandfather
Because my great-grandfather (also named Adolf) died before Papi was born, I know almost nothing about him beyond what Papi wrote in his memoir. In 2017, soon after I arrived in France, I got an email from 97-year-old Ruth Stimler, mentioning that her mother's maiden name was Mechner and wondering if we might be related? My curiosity led me to an afternoon of genealogical research, and to write three pages in my sketchbook journal.
At the time, I didn't yet have Replay as a project. My head was in triple-A open-world video game development; my sketchbook was just a hobby. Seeing these pages now, I wonder if the idea of a family graphic novel was already simmering in my unconscious.
(These pages appear in Year 2 in France, a facsimile edition of my sketch journal that I printed in 2019—another early step in the direction of Replay. The last bit is from a life-drawing workshop in Montpellier, nothing to do with this story. My sketchbook is often a mix of journaling, drawing practice, and sketches in cafés or wherever I happen to be.)
Papi preserved two letters his father wrote to his brother's fiancée Henriette. One is beautifully handwritten; the other is composed entirely in unrhymed verse. Papi explains:
"It sounds like: Tá, ta tá, ta tá ta, tá ta;tá, ta tá ta, tá ta tá ta. He explains why he wrote it this way, namely that he was a member of a literary club and that he had the task within the next few days to recite from memory the long, romantic epic 'The Trumpeter of Säkkingen' by the famous German poet Scheffel, written in 4-footed trochees. He explains further that he has been reading every evening this 'sing-song' and so much familiarized himself with that rhythm that he now wanted all the time to produce these lines. It is a delightful way in which he wrote this letter, but difficult or rather impossible to translate it since it would lose all its charm. By the way, 'The Trumpeter of Sákkingen' was later made into an opera by Victor Nessler."
These letters make me think Henriette might have lost at least one night's sleep deciding which of the two Mechner brothers to marry. But that's just my fantasy.
Page 108: My Mother
Page 109: Turkish Bridge and Grocery Shop
My thanks to Edgar Hauster, who maintains the Czernowitz Ehpes blog and website with Prof. Bruce Reisch and Jerome Schatten — a collection of family histories, photos, maps, census data, and even cookbook recipes. When I contacted him and explained my mission for Replay, he generously took the time to dig up newspaper clippings that pinpointed my great-great-grandfather Alter Bayer's grocery store at 12 Ringplatz and family home at 6 Tuerkengasse, and a trove of old photographs and postcards that helped me imagine how those places looked in the 1900s.
In the upper left of the 1904 newspaper page is a sympathy acknowledgement for the death of my great-great-grandmother, Susie Bayer.
I've yet to visit Chernivtsi in person. To draw these pages, I spent an hour in Google Maps, virtually walking the streets around Papi's childhood home and his grandfather's shop. It helped me grasp the town's layout, but as my dad predicted (see Replay page 51, chapter 2), the 1900s atmosphere I was after eluded me.
Page 111: Buffalo Bill and Vlaicu
It's easy (and a pleasure) to lose an afternoon searching for references to draw panels like these.
Page 111: Hadn't Noticed She Was Pregnant
This remark in Papi's memoir always stops me. How could a kid not notice his mom being eight months pregnant? Were household rhythms in 1910 that different, or dresses that voluminous? It's crossed my mind to wonder whether his stepbrother might have actually been adopted, and no one told him. I'll never know.
Page 112: Streetcar
After the great French artist, sculptor and caricaturist Honoré Daumier (1808-1879, born in Marseille), with apologies. I borrowed the ads from the Czernowitz newspaper (see page 109).
I figured Czernowitz's trams were similar to the ones in Vienna at the time, so I looked for references in the wonderful Vienna street photography of Dr. Emil Mayer (1871-1938).
Page 113: Secession
Klimt, Schiele, Schnitzler... Bright youngsters from the provinces like my great-aunt Else came to Vienna with dreams of joining its thriving art and cultural scene.
For those who took the leap without the safety net of a supportive family, homelessness and starvation could be one step away. Brigitte Hamman's book Hitler's Vienna, and photos like this one by Hermann Drawe (1867-1925) of a flophouse in a poor neighborhood, balanced my romantic image of 1900s Vienna with an inkling of what a less-fortunate aspiring artist's milieu might have been like.
Page 117: Dunes, Bunkers
I'm indebted to Alain Holuigue for keeping me fed with Le Touquet photos and book suggestions. The "Memoire en Images" series by Philippe Holl was especially useful, with hundreds of views of Touquet before, during and after the German occupation.
This one, of my dad standing on the beach dunes where he played as a child, was taken during a visit with my mom and sister Emily circa 2000.
Page 118: Occupation
Until Replay, my image of life in occupied France was a jumbled composite of different places and phases of the war based on movies and TV shows I'd seen, like the 2009 series "A French Village."
I needed specifics to bring my picture of my dad's experience into focus. Alain found a list of the orders issued by the military authorities in Le Touquet between June and October 1940. Concrete details like curfews and people having to turn in their radios helped me.
Page 120: Roi Family Villa
Between the Allied bombardment that leveled Le Touquet in the war's final months, and the building boom of the 1950s and 60s, the row of quaint seaside villas got mostly replaced by giant condos. My depiction of the Rois' mansion is a composite based on period photos of similar houses. (I gave the neighbors swastika flags because the Kommandantur requisitioned many villas on that strip as headquarters.)
I learned later that the family's name is actually Roy. My dad always thought it was spelled Roi (they're pronounced the same in French), so I left it that way in the book.
Page 121: Tobacco Shop
Impressively, Alain was able to figure out which of Le Touquet's several tobacco shops Lisa most likely worked at. That storefront on rue de Paris is now a realtor's office, but the old tobacco shop can be seen in this 1935 photo.
Having my dad available to answer questions for this book has been a huge blessing. He's 91 now (in 2023) and eagerly read each chapter in progress. I scribbled this page of notes during one phone call.
Page 123: Strolling in Le Touquet
When I visited Touquet in June 2021, this street was closed off with police guards. Emmanuel Macron was in town to vote in the regional election.
Here's a notebook page in which I jotted down my dad's reminiscences about his walks with Luftwaffe pilot Willi.
He made this pencil drawing to show me where everyone had been sitting during a conversation in the Rois' living room.
Page 124: A German Officer
I thought of Willi when I watched "Le Silence de la Mer" — the 1947 film by Jean-Pierre Melville and the 2004 TV movie, both based on Vercors' clandestinely-published 1942 novel about the relationship between a Wehrmacht officer and the French family forced to take him as a lodger. I recommend all three versions.
Page 124: "We all thought an invasion was imminent"
In June 1940 Germany had six états-majors and 40,000 men in Le Touquet, with generals and high-ranking officers visiting frequently. Among the flying aces stationed at the airport were Adolf Galland, Hans-Joachim Marseille (the "Star of Africa"), and Werner Mölders, pictured here.
Page 125: There's Hope
My dad doesn't remember a plane crashing on the beach, but Holl's photo collection leaves no doubt that they occasionally did.
Page 126: Mutterliebe
Seeking an appropriate film title for the cinema marquee in this panel, I learned that French cinema under German occupation is a fascinating, controversial subject. Among the directors who continued to work under Nazi rule were Marcel Carné, Pagnol, Abel Gance, and a young Robert Bresson just starting his career. Some see the occupation as a dark period in French cinema, others as a dynamic time of creative challenge and opportunity.
With Jews barred from working in film, and anti-German sentiment verboten, romantic comedies and domestic melodramas thrived. The Nazi and Vichy censors approved especially of "women's pictures" that idealized virtues of home and hearth, sacrificial motherhood and patriotism.
The film I picked, "A Mother's Love," was an import from Vienna. From Wien-Film's company mission statement, signed by Joseph Goebbels: "In competition with the other arts, the purpose of film is to give form to what satisfies human hearts and what makes them shudder, and by the revelation of the eternal, transport them into better worlds."
Page 127: Willi
My dad remembers Willi clearly, but as a kid at the time, he didn't know details like his rank, last name, or birthplace. I emailed Erik Mombeeck, who maintains a website dedicated to Luftwaffe pilots missing in action and their families (and wrote a book about them, Dans le ciel de France).
I would have been happy to get a few photo references of Luftwaffe officers and pilots with similar profiles to Willi's. To my amazement, Erik searched the records of pilots stationed in Touquet at that time and found exactly one matching my dad's description: Oberleutnant Willi Hopp, Stab III./JG 3, born 14 February 1915 in Hamburg, shot down southeast of Folkestone on 23 September 1940.
My dad was overwhelmed when I showed him the scans of death cards Erik sent me. It meant a lot to him, after more than eighty years, to have one of his strongest childhood memories corroborated for the first time with concrete evidence.
Page 133: White Mouse
Tomi's idea to give the princess a little white mouse as a companion (see Replay page 100, chapter 3) led to one of Prince of Persia's most memorable moments.
Today, no publisher would let a developer slip in a new feature in the final weeks of playtesting. In 1989, things were looser. For the game's Level 8, I devised a puzzle with no solution: The player ends up trapped in front of a closed gate, unable to reach the pressure plate on the other side. The mouse's deus-ex-machina arrival to save the day delighted players of all ages — even Broderbund's battle-hardened playtesters, who grumbled that it was late for me to be adding features, but let it pass.
For this, and other reasons, the mouse has a special place in my heart. A favorite Prince of Persia game box cover artwork, by Katsuya Terada for the 1990 Nintendo Super FamiCom version, has the mouse front and center below the title—the real hero of the game!
The princess and mouse inspired my first video game tribute artwork in January 2023, a new departure for me (or, maybe, a return to childhood).
Page 134: I Changed My Mind
Drawing often brings serendipitous discoveries that I didn't plan as a writer. I happened to draw a water jug in the room where Papi's father dies at the beginning of this chapter. It then became self-evident to place the same jug in the next panel where his mother nurses him a few days later, and in this one where 16-year-old Papi contemplates suicide near the chapter's end.
Page 135: Dead Deer
A dead deer on the front lawn is the kind of too-obviously-perfect symbol a writer might invent, but I didn't invent this one. The deer was hit by a car; a young cop showed up to end its misery. He was inexperienced, and it took him several bullets. After he left, it snowed, delaying the pickup of the carcass.
The link between the pistol the young cop used and the one on the previous page that my grandfather didn't use might exist only in my mind, but it's another of those connections that sometimes happen while I'm drawing.
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