Bastard battle

Year: 2008

Author: Céline Minard 1969

Typography: Fanette Mellier

Publisher: Dissonances, Paris

Céline Minard, Fanette Mellier, Bastard battle (2008), detail

Fanette Mellier has been hailed the Colour Lady of French Graphic Design. Mellier (Annonay, 1977) studied at the École supérieure des arts décoratifs in Strasbourg (1995-2000) before settling down in Paris, in 2000, where she started working with her former teacher, typographer and letter designer, Pierre di Sciullo.

After that she went on to work at Pierre Bernard’s bureau, the man who – since 1970 – has been the face of French graphic design with his Grapus bureau and has, since 1990, pursued that through the Atelier de Création Graphique (with the Dutch designers Dirk Behage and Fokke Draaijer). In 2005 Mellier established herself as an independent graphic designer. Many of her commissions come from cultural circles: she designed a special alphabet (Bubunne) for a film directed by Riad Sattouf, Jacky au royaume des filles (2014), an alphabet which, to Sattouf’s mind, should represent suppression. Mellier herself decided that it should be a curious, non-Latin typeface that could also appear entertaining. Another commission culminated in a book about the non-western fonts of the Imprimerie nationale in Paris: Empreintes (2013). Alongside this commissioned work, she also tries to find time for research. She was made a Pôle graphisme fellow in Chaumont (Haute-Marne) between 2007 and 2009. For one year she worked as designer-in-residence in Rome, at the Académie de France à Rome, Villa Médicis (2012-2013).

  • Céline Minard, Fanette Mellier, Bastard battle (2008), page 96-97

The siege of the city of Chaumont

Céline Minard (1969) wrote a short story about the siege of the city of Chaumont in 1437 by the ‘Bastard de Bourbon’: Bastard battle (2008). There historical facts are intermingled with fictitious details from Chinese sword movies. The inhabitants learn how to defend themselves with crossbows and kung-fu and are, in the process, instructed and bewitched by a mysterious Oriental. That sorcery extends to the language in which medieval words are mixed with Anglicisms and with catchphrases from Japanese manga cartoons.


This was the hallucinatory effect that Mellier chose as her point of departure for her ‘paperback gone crazy’. A 1000 copies of the book were printed in offset lithography. The blackness of the text resulted from superimposing three printing colours: pink, yellow and blue. Working from the inside margins outwards, the texts become increasingly manipulated while in the story the battle grows ever more violent: black letters are given a candy-coloured background, colours run and merge, the text takes on an unstable and wet appearance. In the case of certain words, the typeface starts to resemble that used in manga cartoons. One critic commented: ‘the treatment is seamless and natural; one is tempted to imagine that something must have happened to this particular copy, not that it was designed that way.’

Bibliographical description

Description: Bastard battle / Céline Minard ; [graphisme: Fanette Mellier]. - Paris : Dissonances, 2008. - 100 p. ; 18 cm.

Printr: Pôle Graphisme (Chaumont)

Edition: 1000 copies

Note: Published in the context of the project 'Chaumont: fictions (des livres bizarres)'

Shelfmark: KW KOOPM A10027


  • Paul van Capelleveen, 'Fanette Mellier', in Paul van Capelleveen, Artists & others. The imaginative French book in the 21st century. Koopman Collection, National Library of the Netherlands. Nijmegen, Vantilt Publishers, 2016, p. 163-165
  • Sophie Cure, Tony Côme, ‘Fanette Mellier’ cosmos, carabine et confetti’ [gepubliceerd op 14 mei 2013 op ‘’, website].
  • Sandrine Maillet, Anne-Marie Sauvage, ‘Fanette Mellier. Travailler la matière textuelle’, in: Revue de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, 43 (2013), p. 46-49.
  • Fanette Mellier’ [website].
  • Lisa Pagès, ‘Portrait, Fanette Mellier’, [gepubliceerd op 27 maart 2013 op ‘Sürkrüt. Blog de l’atelier de communication graphique de la Hear’, website].