Rui Carvalho, Portuguese artist and software developer, reviews Beatrice Tillier and Tehy’s comic book Fees et Tendres Automates

A Journey to “Fees et tendres automates

Comics, or graphic novels, are considered the ninth out of the traditional, basic forms of art. In fact, comics can be seen as a result of the joint forces of several of the basic forms of art, for example, literature, drawing and architecture.

And, comics are certainly influenced by the world that surrounds the artist: the creator of the small world existing inside the book.

The book “Fees et tendres automates”, original title, in French, or “Fairies and Tender Automatons”, in English, by Béatrice Tillier and Téhy, is a portrait of a world dying due to a war provoked by man but, at the same time, it is a fairy tale, a platonic and electronic love story, between two robots: a tender automata boy and an ethereal robotic fairy. Both of them are a subtle sign of hope for that world. Interesting, is to notice that those two beings are the creation of a man, a scientist, and clearly behave more intelligently than most of the humans. They are Turing machines (Marcus du Sautoy, 1st April 2012), a concept of Artificial Intelligence; and although they lack the capability to feel physical pain, they experience emotional pain. This emotion-driven thought, according to António Damásio (1999), a neuroscientist, is obviously linked with intelligence.

At the end of the book, we clearly sense a strong frustration that might be the result of the deep enchantment of the magical brightness in the eyes of these two survivors, when they look to the crystalline light of the stars, in the dark night. All this, despite the menace of the end of “life” for these two creations, more human than those who fight around them. Yes, the story is a tragic conflict between violence and the automata, a creature so fragile that he has portable lips which he takes with him wherever he goes…

Furthermore, the magical and cool brightness of the synthetic skin, the red texture of the lips, the waves of the fire’s orange color, robots with celestial melancholic face expressions, a round drop of moisture and “illuminated” frustration, contrasting with the forgotten reasoning that could create a much better world, explains this possible feeling of seeing real people, not “created with sin”, as if they were a strange religious effort, but using science as its main (and unique) tool… a strange Dionysiac symbiosis.

Summing up, the book is far more than a collection of beautiful drawings, with subtle lines integrated with probably well chosen colors; it is a story, a romance, an adventure and, at the same time, an effort to make us think about our concept of life, emotions and logical intelligence, and if these two are separableor not. Something keeps us reading, maybe it is the search of a happy ending, due to the capabilities of our hero made of “silica feelings”.


Damásio, A. (1999), “The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness”, Harcourt Brace, pp. 386

Marcus du Sautoy (1st April 2012), “AI robot: how machine intelligence is evolving“, The Guardian

Rui M.

29 October 2016 to 3 November 2016