Sonia Tagari (BFA, BS 2016)

While searching through the course catalogue for the winter semester in 2015, Sonia Tagari (BFA, BS 2016) was thrilled to see French 232: Comics taught by Professor Sabine Gabaron on the class offerings for the language program. A longtime reader of graphic novels and manga, she jumped at the chance to learn French through one of her favorite forms of storytelling. Beyond expanded verb tenses and vocabulary, she delved into the unique history of bandes dessinées and enjoyed stories like “Aya de Yopougon” and “Resistances.” She also gained an appreciation for the global reach of the art form by reading the works nominated for the Festival d’Angoûleme.  

Today, Sonia has what she thinks must be the coolest job in the world: Reading digital comics every day while working with creators as an Associate Editor at WEBTOON Entertainment. The critical analysis of comics that she learned in French 232, along with the breadth of narratives provided in the course, certainly helped prepare her for life as a comics professional. Although she works in English, she still reads comics on the French version of the WEBTOON app and checks the annual nominations for the Festival d’Angoûleme.

In September 2020, Sonia reached out to Professor Gabaron, sharing wonderful news about this new position she had in the comic world:

“J'ai appris beaucoup dans votre classe des bandes dessinées en 2015 (French 232 Comics). Je veux vous dire que j'ai commencé une position éditoriale à Webtoon Entertainment. Je lis et édite les bandes dessinées pour gagner ma vie! Je pense souvent à votre classe et les bandes dessinées fantastiques que j'ai lues. Je veux dire merci pour votre instruction.” she wrote.

Professor Gabaron was so excited to hear from Sonia and learn about new content she could use to enrich the course. Most of all, she was impressed with Sonia’s language skills and her willingness to communicate in French.

Professor Gabaron invited Sonia to visit her class and interact with her students. A few weeks later, Sonia gave a 20-minute presentation about comics, Webtoon and her responsibilities as an editor, all in French, followed by a class discussion.

This experience was enriching and inspiring for Professor Gabaron’s students, who had the chance to connect with a former UofM student who had taken the same class they were currently in, and who now could teach them new interesting information about the genre. After the presentation, one student wrote:

“J'ai vraiment apprécié la présentation de Sonia en classe! C'est très cool qu’elle ait pu bien parler français alors qu'elle n'avait pas pratiqué depuis longtemps. Je pense aussi que c'est intéressant qu'elle ait étudié à UofM et qu'elle ait suivi le même cours de BD dans lequel nous sommes!  Je suis contente que nous ayons parlé avec elle, et peut–être que je parlerai avec les futurs cours de français?  Qui sait…?”