With her caustic love juice heroine, Tess Kinski wants to “reinvent our imagination”

Author and designer of Super CyprienTess Kinski got into comics after working for big companies. Today, the Grenoble-based artist has given himself a mission: “Reinventing our imagination” and give strong, active and combative female characters the place they deserve in the culture. meeting.

Photo: Tess Kinskic

Like many women in France, Tess Kinski has been the victim of street harassment. One day in April 2018, after yet another insult received on the spot in front of a library in the French capital, it clicked: “I imagined an alter ego, a girl who wouldn’t be afraid to react to this violence, a kind of catwoman who would come from the rooftops, head down, grinding these guys’ balls”, she tells POSITIVR. When she got home, Tess Kinski wrote the first draft of what would become three years later, Super Cyprienhis first self-published comic in 2021 and then reissued in March 2022 by Massot Editions, the home of a certain Emma, ​​the author of the now cult series on the mental strain (among others), Another look

Becoming an artist: a dream

The heroine of Super Cyprien, Cypry, finally these gentlemen’s wallets are not creaking. But she does have a superpower: her love juice is corrosive. Faced with this physical quirk, Cypry escapes from his hometown to “go to Paris”. There she discovers the world of cabaret and learns to control her strength. With one goal: to punish violent and sexist men for their behavior.

Like Cypry, Tess Kinski left her hometown, Grenoble, to study business management at Paris-Dauphine University. After 5 years in college, she worked for major companies in marketing and communications, but quit in 2019 to fulfill a dream: to become an artist.

“When I was little I wrote a lot of stories that I never finished”, the author recalls. When she arrives in Paris, everything is unblocked for the student. “I was a good student in Grenoble. I had a choice between becoming a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer or a trade school. But about art I was ignorant. I didn’t know there were film schools, while art schools seemed out of reach to me…” Parallel to her studies, Tess Kinski immersed herself in the universe of this artist. Photography, video, drawing or rap: she tries everything, galvanized by the capital where she meets her idols such as Pharrell Williams and Kanye West at (late) Colette, a boutique in the first arrondissement, a symbol of cool and cutting edge in art and fashion.

Illustration: Introduction to “Super Cyprine” by Tess Kinski (Massot Éditions)

mad at men

Her retraining, Tess Kinski is preparing her. She first attended evening painting classes for 3 years in the Paris studios. “My teacher has freed me a lot”, explains the one who then wants to portray men in her paintings through the eyes of female desire. Not for the “scorn”specifies the apprentice painter, but to find on the canvas the sensations of her adolescence, “where the boys’ bodies are from” [son] age” don’t leave her indifferent. Problem: The artist cannot paint. “I was too angry with men, I couldn’t sublimate them”

Despite this frustration, Tess Kinski gives herself the opportunity to succeed in the arts. She resigned in early 2018, continued her painting lessons and did a few “strange food jobs”† A few months later, in April, she thought about writing and drawing a comic strip.

“It is a format that delivers a didactic message”explains the designer. “I think this is a very interesting area of ​​expression for feminist women. I wanted to be a part of it”† Among her references, Tess Kinski quotes Mirion Malle (author of the comic) Command panties who deciphers and illustrates sexist clichés with fragments from films or cult series), Julie Delporte (reality comicssexual decline), Pénélope Bagieu (author of the successful series: culottes), Chloe Wary (rose season) or even Tillie Walden (to spinIn a ray of sunshine) of which she shares certain portraits on her Instagram account.

To help her with her project, Tess Kinski’s painting teacher recommends that she take a remote comics class. She goes there with Super Cyprien under the arm, still in concept form. There the designer learns all the tricks of the trade when making a comic: from the structure of the story to the storyboard, including writing the text and then the script. Little by little, Tess Kinski’s alter ego comes to life and is embodied in a familiar universe that resembles her: Cypry reads King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes, a reference book in feminist culture that Tess Kinski got from her father when she was 16 (a revelation for her). Her heroine lives and works in a Parisian cabaret, a replica of Madame Arthur, a place dear to the author.

“I discovered the world of cabaret with my club during a Christmas party. I thought it was incredible to bring 200 people there when my boss was very sexist at the time”, she says. Tess Kinski, for her part, was won over by the performance and spent many evenings at the famous cabaret in the 18th arrondissement. “Hideout” according to her. She explains :

“Seeing men attributing themselves to very feminine, exaggerated and flamboyant codes made me see femininity as a force, as something powerful… While I tended to despise it, because of this internalized misogyny we grew up in”

The designer therefore integrates this decor into her story. Until “to enjoy” first but also before “show different representations of femininity and masculinity”† Because Tess Kinski doesn’t just want to portray the bullying, the fears of women and their anger. She also wants, she says, “Reinventing our imagination”

Illustration: Tess Kinski

Imagination against fear

“Even though I grew up with Tarantino’s characters in Kill Bill Where Boulevard of Death“There are not many proposals for strong women in the culture.” For the author, the self-image is built up, even conditioned, by the series, cartoons, films and music that we watch, read and listen to. How can we estimate its existence if the female characters we have access to are weak, passive and violated? “This violence conditions us to be afraid.” It is to fight against this fear, especially that “irrational” of assault or rape in the middle of the street, that Tess Kinski wants to reverse the trend, to rebalance our imaginations. “It would take thousands of Super Cyprine, somewhat imperfect heroines. There’s room!”enthuses the one who has worked hard to bring her character to life and enable her to meet her audience.

When she finishes her distance training in comics, Tess Kinski sends files to publishers. The timing does not bring him luck: we are just before the first lockdown of the spring of 2020, publishers are already announcing the cessation of their activities with new authors and new authors. At the same time, the designer exchanges with her cousin, also a comic book artist. The latter advises her to opt for self-publishing, but Tess Kinski does not dare to take the plunge yet: she prefers to devote herself completely to creation.

The Covid-19 settles in France, Tess Kinski leaves Paris and returns to live near her mountains in Grenoble, while confinement is proclaimed throughout the territory. One morning the designer wakes up “under stress” and finally decides to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Ulule, helped by his cousin. She achieves 280 presale (out of a target of 250). A “very good support” while the comic is still in progress.

Photo: “Super Cyprine” by Tess Kinski (Massot Editions)

In July 2021, Super Cyprien is eventually sent by mail to its readers. “Three hours after I received my first copies, I was invited to a festival in Paris, organized by the Join The Sorority association. There were entrepreneurs, artists and authors and publishers of Massot Éditions”† Dating is that simple. Super Cyprien has been reissued and can now be found in all good bookstores. Waiting for the second part, which Tess Kinski is working on. “He will delve deeper into the darkness of my character”book the author whose publishing house is unfortunately threatened by financial difficulties.

To survive this bad patch, a crowdfunding campaign was launched on KissKissBankBank. The opportunity to discover and treat yourself Super Cyprien but also other works of this independent house.

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