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“Escape Ghosn”. Carlos Ghosn’s spectacular escape becomes a funny comic.

“Escape Ghosn”.  Carlos Ghosn’s spectacular escape becomes a funny comic.

The comic book tells the story of the incredible escape of the former CEO in 2019. Book author Michelle Standyofsky tells us the unusual behind-the-scenes story.

Let’s remember the facts. On December 29, 2019, after 110 days in prison and house arrest in Japan, Carlos Ghosn, the then-emergency CEO of Renault, Nissan and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, fled to Beirut in a musician’s trunk. . An incredible scripted escape recounted four years later by a Lebanese team infiltrated from the inside, or nearly so, after 8 hours of interviews with Carlos Ghosn himself. Author and illustrator Michel Standyofsky, who teaches at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, drew the script.Run Ghos! (1), a fun-toned comic book drawn by Mohamad Kraitham that reveals the behind-the-scenes of this graphic UFO.

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Into an adventure

Madame Figaro: How did you join this unexpected comic book adventure?
Michelle Standyofsky. The publisher contacted me at the very beginning of this adventure, as soon as he had the idea. I started by refusing to participate because the project is not like what I normally do. Having no sympathy for what Carlos Ghosn represents, I didn’t have the sense to think about him for a few months. I was also worried about the turn the project might take and I especially didn’t want to be accused of being complacent. But I quickly became convinced, once we agreed, that it would be a documentary, that the tone would be decidedly humorous, and that we would only be interested in the incredible spectacle of Carlos Ghosn escaping in his music box, without trying to dress him up. to judge or plead his defense. In the end, it was the unexpected side of the adventure that made me say yes.

Run Ghos!By Michel Standyofsky and Mohamad Kraitem, published by Éditions Samir. Press

How did you work?
Run Ghos! it’s really a team effort. Samir is one of the Lebanese publishing houses with whom I have cooperated most often and always with great pleasure and respect. I helped them put together the team, immediately thinking of my former student Mohammad Kraitham, whose painting is both fun and elegant. And also journalist and editor-in-chief Anthony Samarani to carry out the investigation East-Day, whose work I admire. We were in constant contact at all stages of the project. While writing the script, some scenes were immediately obvious. I immediately saw, for example, the potential of the trunk, its power visually, as symbolically or comically. I then read and annotated dozens of articles on the subject that Anthony sent us, articles whose titles I would normally barely read. And during Anthony’s interviews, I watched and listened to Carlos Ghosn a lot, asking a series of seemingly innocuous questions that allowed me to create the character. During this time, Muhammad also watched and made his first sketches. For the rest, I continued writing my personal graphic novels. I begin by drawing a general line that I rarely respect. I develop scenes that I then weave together, often changing their arrangement. For this I use post-it notes that I tape to my workshop wall. For Run Ghos!, the mail was 4 different colors so that I could find myself between different times in history, as well as between reality and imaginary scenes. This technique helps me maintain the overall vision of the story and the rhythms I’m trying to create.

How did the fact that the entire team is Lebanese play a role?
As Lebanese, we are in some ways more critical, but probably more objective. But not all Lebanese share the same view of Carlos Ghosn’s character, far from it. It took us a while to come to terms with the neutral approach. It also seems to me that the fact that we are Lebanese allowed Carlos Ghosn to relax a little.

Excerpt: Run Ghos!By Michelle Standyofsky and Mohamad Kraitham Dr

What pitfalls did you encounter?
The main difficulty from my side was that the approach should not be perceived as complacent, without blaming or condemning. I also had to keep updating myself, revising certain details as the case kept rolling.

How did you overcome them?
In general, our approach was clear, but we needed to work on the details. The team and I found ourselves discussing a line or even a word two or three times. As for the relationship with all other versions of the case, we quickly realized that the specificity of our project would derive more from freedom of tone than information. However, a few days before publication, we added an epilogue in order not to be burdened with new developments in the case.


What was the moment when you came up with the script trick of little Zazen, this little bonzie character who is kind of Carlos Ghosn’s superego?
All too soon, thankfully. Because I’m counting on him to let the character know quite a few things by accident. The idea came to me during our second interview with Carlos Ghosn. He told us that he was not afraid at any moment and assured us that he was in complete control of his emotions throughout the escape. Then I literally saw a little Ghos flying above him saying the exact opposite. I had to hold back a laugh of relief because I felt like I had a clue here that would solve a lot of plot questions. The little boy is actually a kind of superego, but also Carlos Ghosn’s mini-me, who says out loud what the real person doesn’t want to acknowledge or accept.

Excerpt: Run Ghos!By Michelle Standyofsky and Mohamad Kraitham Dr

Faced with Carlos Ghosn

How did the interviews with Carlos Ghosn go?
During the first of four two-hour interviews, the atmosphere was quite tense. Carlos Ghosn has built a character for himself, he knows his lines by heart and never improvises. During the meetings, he relaxed a little, especially when he realized that we did not wish him harm or good through our project, and that it was the incredible side of his story that interested us. His answers to Anthony’s questions were ready. Rather, it was my innocuous questions about what he eats for breakfast, what brand of moccasins… that made him drop his character on rare occasions.

What surprised you most about him, him or his house, his wife and even Napoleon, all of whom are present in the comedy?
Not much. I realized that he fits my character. I was still amazed when I noticed how much he was living in a bubble. Hearing him say several times that he thought he was underpaid and that he would have made a lot more at General Motors… Even though I had already read it, this sentence first shocked me, then amused me. His house didn’t surprise me either. It is a beautiful traditional Beirut residence, opulent but not ostentatious. His wife, on the other hand, surprised me a bit with her simplicity and the loving admiration she keeps showering on him. And it’s true that he quotes Napoleon a lot. It didn’t take much for me to picture him as Bonaparte.

Carlos Gon lives in a golden prison, but it seems to me that he is also a prisoner of the character he has become.

Michele Standiofsky

Can you tell how Carlos Ghosn knew he had to play with you all?
He could refuse. It seems to me that he agreed to play the game because the project brought him a little relief. Lebanon is a beautiful country, but still small for someone who is used to traveling the world on a private jet. Carlos Gon lives in a golden prison, but it seems to me that he is also a prisoner of the character he has become. And that he really wanted to get out a little, even if it meant being treated badly. We warned him. At the end of the last interview with him, when we were leaving him, I said to him: Then he lowered his head and said: “I’m used to it.” This is what we did and what gave the piece its tone.

Excerpt: Run Ghos!By Michelle Standyofsky and Mohamad Kraitham Dr

Beirut today and tomorrow

How are you working in Beirut at the moment?
Working conditions in Beirut are special. We are dependent on power outages, internet outages… At the moment, we do not see a way out of the multi-crisis situation we have been in for several years. But this is paradoxical, which can motivate you to work even more.

Can you also tell us about your third graphic novel? Mona Corona (2), which is also just released.
It is a fiction, also a suspense story, because the action takes place in the 2030s, but in which I transform them, transforming a lot of the crises that the world has gone through in recent years. Beirut is clearly recognizable, even if I never named it. And Mona’s journey is a bit of a reflection of this city, where the madness and anxiety around her often swells and then explodes. I wanted Mona’s madness to be joyful and liberating, even if suspicions arose very quickly. And the pink of the book is that it is ambiguous, because attractive and poisonous, after the explosion in the sky of Beirut on August 4, 2020…

(1) Run Ghos!, Michèle Standjofski, Mohmad Koraytem, ​​Samir editions, 128 p., €20. It was published on October 17.

(2) Mona Corona, Michèle Standjofski, editions Le bruit du monde, 220 p., €24. Publication: October 5.

Source: Le Figaro

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