When Royan inspires Arthur de Pins

the 3 crabs

Royan is the scene of this revolutionary comic strip whose Arthur de Pins is the initiator. Although he grew up in Brittany, he frequently spent his childhood holidays in Royan, more precisely on Dovecote beach. Between 2010 and 2013, this seaside resort served as the setting for his trilogy entitled “The Crab Walk”. In 2012, he was awarded the Prix Jeunesse des Fauves at the Angoulême Comic Strip Festival for the second volume of his “Zombillénium” series. In 2014, Royan pays homage to him by devoting an open-air exhibition to him dedicated to “The Crab Walk”.

Discovering the Crab Walk

The Crab March by Arthur de Pins © Éditions SOLEIL, 2010-2023
the crab walk - aerial view of Royan

Do you know Cancer Simplicimus Vulgaris, more commonly known as square crabs? These curious creatures inhabit the brownish waters of the Gironde estuary for millennia. They are afflicted with a strange genetic defect: nature has condemned them to move only sideways, forbidding them any possibility of turning. Their existence is therefore reduced to an uninterrupted march along a straight line. But one summer vacation on the beaches of Royan, three of them, named Bateau, Soleil and Guitare, will initiate a revolution aimed at changing their condition: the march of the crabs.

Thus begins the trilogy of Arthur de Pins and the adventure of these crabs which were nevertheless destined never to cross paths. Between class struggle and environmental message, this story is for adults and children alike.

The influence of Royan on the Crab March

During our interview with the artist, he revealed to us his deep attachment to Royan and particularly to the Dovecote beach. We can imagine him then, observing the crabs tirelessly pacing the shore. This vision undoubtedly marked him deeply and inspired his artistic work. He found in these creatures the perfect metaphor for the human condition, also condemned to follow predefined paths without being able to really escape from them.

Arthur de Pins at Pigeonnier beach

Let's see if Arthur still has a crush on Royan...

Interview with Arthur de Pins

What memories do you keep of your holidays in Royan?

From my childhood, I have memories of Pigeonnier beach, a very family-friendly beach where everyone knew each other and where the bar/Mickey club/brasserie/telephone was the nerve center. Very nice memories of costume contests, marble runs... And crab fishing!

Can you tell us about the evolution of your drawing style?

I've been drawing since I was little. As a teenager, I was mainly inspired by designers of whom I was a fan. But the turning point was towards the end of my studies, when I learned to use Illustrator software. It was when I discovered Monsieur Z's drawings that I wanted to obtain this style in flat areas, without lines, very retro. Mr Z is also a native of Royan. The loop closes.

Do you still come to stay in Royan?

As soon as I can because I remain a fan of Charente-Maritime (La Rochelle, Oléron, La Tremblade…). And then Royan is a bit “on the road” between north and south. It is a must. Curiously, I find that the city is not very well known among the people I talk to about it. Much less than La Rochelle. So I turn into a tourist guide and praise them for this city and the surrounding area.

How do you view the landscapes of estuaries?

I'm a big fan of the marshy landscapes, between land and sea, that you can see in Port-Maubert, Mornac or La Tremblade. I find a mad poetry in them, unlike the great ocean beaches that bore me. The only downside that slows people down a bit is the color of the water, more brown than blue. But for me, that's part of the charm.

What do you think of Royan's “50s” architecture?

Royan is a very special seaside resort, very “modern”, in the architectural sense (it was nicknamed “little Brazilia”). Some houses seem straight out of a Tati movie. It is therefore a tribute to the thirty-glorious days to situate the action of his comic strip in this place. Hervé Bourhis has also chosen Royan as the setting for his comic strip Le Teckel. During a trip linked to my comic strip, I discovered the work of Marsaudon, of whom I only knew the Rancho logo. Everything in Royan smacks of the 60s and 70s. Going there is like traveling back in time.

"La Marche du Crab" has also become a board game. How do we play it?

This is a collaborative game, where only two players play. Not one against the other, but two against the game. One of the players embodies Sun and can only move from east to west, while the other is Boat and only moves according to the north-south axis. The two being able to carry each other, they will have to help each other to clean the beach and find their congeners prisoners of the Cakes.

A last word to share with us?

Greetings to all the inhabitants of Royan and to all the elders of the Pigeonnier beach!!!

the crab walk - the Palais de Royan

In conclusion, “The Crab Walk” by Arthur de Pins is deeply marked by Royan. Its seaside atmosphere and unique landscapes have been a source of inspiration for the artist, allowing him to explore deep themes and captivate his readers with his overflowing imagination and sense of formula.

The Crab March de Arthur de Pins © SUN Editions, 2010-2023 – Published in the Noctambule collection 


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