From the very beginning, Charley appreciated that the Eiffel Tower, or at least parts of it, had to be depicted in almost every picture from almost every conceivable perspective. He realized too, that his know-how of perspective drawing, as acquired at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, would not suffice. Through an acquaintance, he met Mr Mesman, a former instructor of perspective drawing at the Rijksacademie, who had been compelled to give up teaching due to a disorder of the eye.
For his tutelage, Reuvers had to visit Mr Mesman at his place. Mesman had made perspective drawings of industrial structures for the German occupiers during World War II in order to be exempted from Arbeitseinsatz. As a self-educated draughtsman, he had developed a system of his own, and now, in the twilight of his life, the nearly blind Mr Mesman explained it to his eager pupil by means of two schematic sketches on an A4 sheet. It was Mesman’s system for perspective drawing that enabled Charley to create his graphic novel.
Accurate to the Last Bolt and Rivet
For the conversion of Cocteau’s libretto to a graphic novel, it was necessary, among other things, to keep the text and images balanced and, therefore, to shorten and/or leave out the longer, more descriptive parts of the lyrics.
One striking feature regarding the expressiveness of the end result is the pronounced three-dimensional effect of the drawings, which resulted from the extreme perspective and the refined fullness of detail. Steel constructions, meshed railings, the herringbone texture of the photographer’s suit… these elements and components have all been drawn with exquisite precision. A fact that is quite remarkable in itself, if one realises that Reuvers applied a paint brush.
Stylistically, Reuvers was influenced by Winsor McCay, Will Eisner and Lyonel Feininger. His greatest idol, however, was Jacques Tardi, and just like his idol Reuvers went to great lengths researching his subject. He organized files with examples of the suits and objects from the 1920’s that appear in the story. Wanting to leave nothing to chanve, Reuvers paid regular visits to the library of the Maison Descartes in Amsterdam. He also went to Paris to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower, and to study the blueprints of its construction in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It is not an exaggeration to state that Charley Reuver’s representation of the Eiffel Tower is accurate to the last bolt and rivet.