In this interview Karrie Fransman discusses some of the aesthetic choices that she made in creating her comic book Over Under Sideways Down, the story of a young asylum seeker, which deals with a series of harrowing events: exile, journey and displacement, and then the struggle to attain the right to remain in the UK. Fransman considers the ethical and artistic issues raised by the telling of Ebrahim's story, which includes episodes of pain and loss and which, moreover, he had already recounted many times over to disbelieving interviewers, who had the power to grant or refuse him refugee status. Fransman expresses her pleasure in discovering that the rendering of his story into comics form has helped Ebrahim to feel that he has gained control over it. She reflects on the process of condensing the narrative and heightening key moments, her concern to avoid turning violence into spectacle, and her use of resources of the medium, such as symbolism and metonymy, to convey the intensity of emotion.
An Interview with Karrie Fransman
An Interview with Morvandiau
Ann Miller and Morvandiau
This interview with political cartoonist and comics artist Morvandiau focuses mainly on his 2007 comic book D'Algérie. After the murder in 1994 of his Uncle Jean, a père blanc ['white father'] in Tizi Ouzou, along with three of his fellow priests, followed by the failed suicide of his father, a Pied-noir, eight years later, Morvandiau decided to carry out research into his family and its links with France's colonial adventure. Through the resources of the comic art medium, he was able to give form to a story which is both personal and public (Figures 1-2). The subtle and sober portrayal of his search for identity is contextualised by a highly absorbing panorama of political events. In the interview, he explains some of the aesthetic choices that he made, and discusses the challenges of working from documentary material, and how he drew on the resources of the medium to tackle issues of individual and collective identity.
Ann Miller and Joost Swarte
Joost Swarte, the Dutch comic artist, designer and architect, and inventor of the term ligne claire ['clear line'], played a major role in the conception of the new Hergé museum at Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium. The museum website (http://www.museeherge.com) has details of the rooms and exhibits, and includes an explanation from Swarte about his role as scenographer. In this interview with European Comic Art, he further elaborates some of the points made in that text, and sheds interesting light upon issues raised by contributors to this volume.
Ann Miller and Kaveri Gopalakrishnan
In this interview, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan discusses childhood reading, formative influences and how her training in animation has impacted on her visual language as a comics artist. She describes the pleasures of collaborative work, but also gives a sense of the solitude necessarily involved in comics creation, and shares her insights into the artistic and technical challenges involved in conveying emotion and sensory experience. The theme of gender runs through the interview, both in relation to the models that she encountered as a child in Indian and American comics, and to her own satirical take on the rules of female decorum imposed upon Indian schoolgirls. Kaveri reflects on her choice of Instagram posts as a way of publishing a certain type of personal comic, and on the very different demands of producing illustrations for educational books. The current projects that she sets out at the end of the interview demonstrate the breadth and ambition of her work.
Comics and Transnational Exchanges
Lawrence Grove, Anne Magnussen and Ann Miller
The title of our journal implies there is such a thing as European comic art, even if in practice it is intended to indicate we focus on work produced (outside the United States) in European languages, leaving the fields of South East Asian and US comics to other publications in the discipline. However, European comics clearly have not developed in isolation from other comics traditions: from the earliest days, they have both impacted and absorbed influences from elsewhere: to cite an obvious example, Rudolph Dirks’s Katzenjammer Kids was modelled on Wilhelm Busch’s Max und Moritz, and both have served as templates for generations of mischievous children from Alain Saint-Ogan’s Zig et Puce, through Dennis the Menace, in both US and UK incarnations.
A Historical Focus on Comics
Lawrence Grove, Anne Magnussen and Ann Miller
Comics history has been an integral part of comics research from the outset, but from the late 1980s and well into the 2000s, a historical focus seemed to live a more anonymous existence. This was largely due to the burgeoning and exciting interest in close analyses of comics as ‘works’, emphasizing the medium’s potential as an art form. Over the past ten years, however, research interest into comics history has regained momentum, but this time combining classic comics history with a heightened awareness of the medium’s aesthetic dimension and with some of the newer trends within historical research at large. The historical interest has been furthered by theoretical and methodological trends that reach beyond comics research. Inspired by anthropology and the linguistic turn, much historical research now has a pronounced focus on cultural products (such as comics) as part of society, and not only in cultural history in a strict sense but also in interaction with broader societal and political processes and conflicts. Within the comics field, this focus most obviously lends itself to some of the comics genres that have boomed within the past fifteen years, such as memory, documentary and ‘activist’ comics, but it is not limited to these. In its updated form, comics history research also follows another general trend within historical research, namely that of transnational studies, which questions a default national framework for understanding comics history and instead follows interaction and inspiration across national borders of industries and publications, as well as individual artists. As a third feature, the field has moved beyond the most widely studied countries and time periods and thereby questions the comics canon that usually evolves around North America and a limited number of European (and Asian) countries. All in all, comics history research is back from the margin, in a new and updated format.
Demystification and Disruption
Laurence Grove, Anne Magnussen and Ann Miller
The articles in European Comic Art 13.1 all allude to the capacity of comics for demystification and disruption. This may take the form of a mistrust of canons; a retelling of the lives of painters that subtly, or less subtly, debunks the mythology of the great artist; an assault on the sensibilities of those who cling to a male-defined idealisation of the female body; a refusal of the illusion of depth in favour of a more complex mapping of connections across surfaces; or the subversive appropriation of a genre previously based on colonial assumptions.
Raphaël Taylor, Bart Beaty, Robert Duggan, Catriona MacLeod and Ann Miller
Daniel Couvreur, Frédéric Soumois and Philippe Goddin, Les Vrais Secrets de la Licorne [‘The True Secrets of the Unicorn’] (Brussels/Tournai: Moulinsart/Casterman, 2006). 127 pp., ISBN 978-2-87424-118-5 (hardback, €15.00)
Daniel Couvreur and Frédéric Soumois, with a preface by Dominique Maricq, À la Recherche du Trésor de Rackham le Rouge [‘In Search of Red Rackham’s Treasure’] (Brussels/Tournai: Moulinsart/Casterman, 2007). 135 pp., ISBN 978-2-87424-160-4 (paperback, €15.00)
Musée du Louvre, Paris, Le Petit dessein: Le Louvre s’ouvre au neuvième art [‘Modest Plans: The Louvre Opens up to the Ninth Art’]
Charles Hatfield, Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature (Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2005). 182 pp. ISBN 978-1578067190 (paperback, $22.00)
Jeff McLaughlin, Comics as Philosophy (Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2005). 246 pp. ISBN 1-57806-794-4 (paperback, £12.50)
Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle, Images à mi-mots [‘Images Halfway to Words’] (Brussels: Impressions nouvelles, 2008). 191 pp. ISBN 978-2-87449-048-4 (€20.00)
Ann Miller, Catherine Labio, Mark McKinney and Laurence Grove
Benoît Peeters, Lire Tintin: Les Bijoux ravis [‘Reading Tintin: The Stolen Jewels’] (Brussels: Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2007). 287 pp., ISBN 978-2-87449-037-8 (€20.00)
Bart Beaty, Unpopular Culture: Transforming the European Comic Book in the 1990s (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007). ix+303 pp.; cloth: ISBN 978-0-8020-9133-9 (US $65, £42); paper: ISBN 978-0-8020-9412-4 (US $30.95; £20)
David Kunzle, Father of the Comic Strip: Rodolphe Töpffer (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007). xii +207 pp. ISBN: 978-1-57806-948-4 (paperback, $25.00)
Rodolphe Töpffer, Rodolphe Töpffer: The Complete Comic Strips, compiled, translated and annotated by David Kunzle (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007). xv + 650 pp. ISBN: 978-1-57806-946-0 (hardback, $65.00)
J. Gavin Paul, Caroline Rossiter, Ann Miller and Mark McKinney
Pierre Assouline, Hergé: The Man Who Created Tintin, trans. Charles Ruas
Jean-Marie Apostolidès, The Metamorphoses of Tintin, or, Tintin for Adults
Stephen E. Tabachnick, ed., Teaching the Graphic Novel
Philippe Delisle, Spirou, Tintin et Cie, une littérature catholique? Années 1930 / Années 1980 [‘Spirou, Tintin and Company, a Catholic Literature? 1930s / 1980s’]
Archi & BD, La ville dessinée, an exhibition on view at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris, from 9 June, 2010 to 28 November, 2010.