It’s a long story which, unfortunately, is nothing exceptional. At the start of the 1960s, taking advantage of State aid distributed for Regional Planning, an industrial company, which notably manufactures scooters, left the Paris suburbs to settle in La Souterraine, in the Creuse. It quickly became the region’s leading employer there, reconciling a certain paternalism on the part of the employers and the workers’ attachment to their work tool.
But with the recurrent economic crises, the company passes into the hands of more anonymous shareholders and certainly less concerned about the future of the territory, but quick to collect public subsidies. It is therefore forced to change its production. After several waves of layoffs, the plant, now called GM & S, employs only a handful of workers. It has become a simple subcontractor to automotive giants, indifferent to its future. The spectacular and exemplary struggle of the workers does not change the case.
A France of forgotten territories
It is all the same, this aspect that wants to underline this graphic novel. David Lopez’s drawings, both naive, elegant and inspired, feature Benjamin Carle, the author of the screenplay, in the posture of the journalist leading the investigation into the process that led to such an outcome. By representing the protagonists he meets and who bring their memories to life, he adds to the sincerity and emotion of their testimonies.
Factory output is thus a beautiful work on a France of forgotten territories but which refuse to be. It is in this that we can hope that it also carries a message of hope.
Factory output. GM&S, deindustrialisation and me , by Benjamin Carle (screenplay) and David Lopez (drawing). Steinkis editions. 18 euros.