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'C'est pas du tout ce que tu penses'

Improvisational Narrative Strategies in Ruppert and Mulot's La Maison close

Bart Beaty

Improvisation and performance are not traditionally associated with the comics form, but experiments with them are increasingly found in the area of alternative, or smallpress, comics. This essay analyses one example of improvisation in comics, Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot's La Maison close. The work was created by Ruppert, Mulot and several other artists for the 2009 Festival International de la Bande Dessinée (FIBD), in Angoulême, France. It was produced by cartoonists who improvised a narrative within a general framework provided by Ruppert and Mulot: a series of drawn settings representing a bordello. The resulting story played with conventions of autobiography, as worked out in alternative comics over the past couple of decades. La Maison close was first presented to the public at the FIBD, then was put online for a year, and now has been published in book form. The contrast between the book and the first version demonstrates the degree to which the original was innovative: the printed volume smoothes out the original, improvised story, forcing it into a more conventional plot.

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Angoulême, 2010

Bart Beaty

The 2010 Festival International de la Bande Dessinée was a somewhat smaller celebration of the form than had been typical from recent years. The global economic recession hit the festival in a very direct fashion, with a great deal of public sabre-rattling in the press between the festival and the town over who would pay which bills. In the end that bickering was resolved and the show, under the presidency of Blutch, rolled out under the grey skies and wet snow of the final weekend of January.

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Angoulême, 2011

Bart Beaty

The 2011 Festival International de la Bande Dessinée (FIBD) in Angoulême saw the return of enormous crowds to the medieval town in south-western France, and for the first time in many years the event felt uncomfortably crowded and difficult to navigate. This year’s edition of the Festival benefited from a lack of major ongoing controversies. Past issues relating to funding from the town and department have been (at least temporarily) resolved, and the construction that disrupted the event for many years in the 2000s has been complete for some time now. Nonetheless, the show lacked energy and many of the exhibits came across as lacklustre. The major topic of discussion at the show was the strike by salaried employees of L’Association, an occurrence that hung a gloomy cloud over events.

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A Clear Line to Marcinelle

The Importance of Line in Émile Bravo's Spirou à Bruxelles

Bart Beaty

This article considers Émile Bravo's screenprint, Spirou à Bruxelles, in order to analyse the relations that existed between the two dominant styles of comic book drawing in Belgium during the mid-twentieth century: the ligne claire style associated with Le Journal de Tintin and the Marcinelle school characterised by artists affiliated with Le Journal de Spirou. Working outward from the specific details of this image, the article situates Spirou within the history of Belgian children's publishing, and the world of modernist and surrealist painting as it can be encapsulated in the figure of René Magritte. The article suggests that the study of line has been historically overlooked by comics studies, and suggests ways by which this absence might be rectified.

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Film and Book Reviews

Nick Nguyen, Bart Beaty, and Pascal Lefèvre


The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (20ıı), directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson, screenplay by Stephen Moffat, Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright. Based on Hergé’s Aventures de Tintin


Harry Morgan and Manuel Hirtz, Les Apocalypses de Jack Kirby

Jacques Samson and Benoît Peeters, Chris Ware: La Bande dessinée réinventée

Renaud Chavanne, Composition de la bande dessinée

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Book Reviews

Bart Beaty, Marc Singer, and Erin McGlothlin

Christophe Dony, Tanguy Habrand and Gert Meesters, La Bande dessinée en dissidence/Comics in Dissent

Hillary Chute and Patrick Jagoda, eds., 'Comics & Media': Special issue of Critical Inquiry 40(3) (Spring 2014)

Jan Baetens and Hugo Frey, The Graphic Novel: An Introduction

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Book Reviews

Matthew Screech, Bart Beaty, Kees Ribbens, and Christina Meyer

Jean-Marie Apostolidès, Dans la Peau de Tintin [‘In Tintin’s Skin’]

Alain Boillat, ed., Les Cases à l’écran: Bande dessinée et cinéma en dialogue [‘Panels on the Screen: Comics and Cinema in Dialogue’]

Viviane Alary and Benoît Mitaine, eds., Lignes de front: bande dessinée et totalitarisme [Frontlines: Comics and Totalitarianism]

Thomas Becker, ed., Comic: Intermedialität und Legitimität eines popkulturellen Mediums [‘Comics: Intermediality and Legitimacy of a Popular Medium’]

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Review Article, Report and Exhibition and Book Reviews

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)


Angoulême, 2009


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)

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Notes on Contributors

Hervé (Baru) Barulea, Bart Beaty, Annabelle Cone, Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle, and Richard Scully

Notes on contributors

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Notes on Contributors

Bart Beaty, Armelle Blin-Rolland, Rod Cooke, Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle, Thierry Groensteen, Benoît Peeters, Annick Pellegrin, Lawrence R. Schehr, Greice Schneider, and Raphaël Taylor

Notes on Contributors to Volume 3