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A Tale of Three Candides

Sfar, Meyran and Delcourt Recount Voltaire

Matthew Screech

Since the millennium, bande dessinée artists have retold Voltaire's Candide three times. The first Candide is by Joann Sfar, the second by Philippe Meyran, and the third, by Gorian Delpâture, Michel Dufranne and Vujadin Radovanovic, is being published by Delcourt. This article begins with a brief presentation of the work. Taking our three Candides in chronological order, I then examine how Sfar, Meyran and the Delcourt version retell the story. Specific excerpts are studied, with emphasis on how far they convey Voltaire's irony. We shall see how Sfar finds new ways to infuse Candide with irony. Analogies with medieval illuminations intimate that the great iconoclast is being sanctified. Moreover, Sfar's grotesque artwork contrasts with Voltaire's elegant prose. Thus, Sfar adds a visual dimension to Voltaire's incongruities between what is said and what is meant. Sfar also jokes about ideas raised by Voltaire including philosophical optimism, anti-Semitism and Utopianism. Meyran depicts the hero's sequence of misfortunes with faux naïf caricature. Thus, he makes visible an incongruity between narrative developments and the manner of their recounting. Yet Meyran usually weakens (or eliminates) irony, while playing down philosophical and polemical issues. The Delcourt version employs elegant, technically accomplished artwork. The narrative is not without irony although engagement is intermittent. This work places emphasis on recounting a fast-moving adventure rather than elaborating upon the story's philosophical underpinnings.

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Autobiographical Innovations

Edmond Baudoin's Éloge de la poussière

Matthew Screech

The article analyses Éloge de la poussière ['In Praise of Dust'] (1995), an autobiographical bande dessinée by French cartoonist Edmond Baudoin (1942-). The work is compared with autobiographical writings by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Michel Leiris and Roland Barthes, Alberto Giacometti's approach to painting, and comics by Baru, Hergé, Hugo Pratt, Jacques de Loustal and Philippe Paringaux. It is argued that Éloge de la poussière is a non-linear autobiography that uses collage to suggest connections that readers may choose to make. The article examines how the book thematises the fallibility of memory, the tension between confession and self-censorship, the relationship between art and reality, and difficulty of ending an autobiography.

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Matthew Screech

The present edition of European Comic Art is our somewhat belated tribute to the eightieth anniversary of Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin. Hergé’s roaming reporter first appeared in the Brussels-based children’s magazine Le Petit Vingtième on 10 January 1929, but he still bestrides the world of Francophone comics like a colossus in plus fours. The 24 Tintin albums, which appeared from 1929 to 1986, have sold millions of copies. Without The Adventures of Tintin the bande dessinée would not exist as we know it and neither, very probably, would European Comic Art.

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Gauguin and Van Gogh Meet the Ninth Art

Postmodernism and Myths about Great Artists

Matthew Screech

Abstract

This article analyses how a late twentieth-century/early twenty-first-century development in bandes dessinées, which combines historical novels with biographies, expresses paradoxical attitudes towards mythologies surrounding Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. Firstly, I demonstrate that the paradox stems from a simultaneous desire for and suspicion of master narratives, identified as intrinsic to postmodernism by Linda Hutcheon. Then I establish how eight graphic novels perpetuate pre-existing mythological master narratives about Gauguin and Van Gogh. Nevertheless, those mythologies simultaneously arouse scepticism: myths do not express exemplary universal truths; myths are artificial and fictionalised constructs whose status in reality is dubious. The albums convey tension between desire and suspicion regarding myths by a variety of devices. These include sequenced panels, circular plots, unreliable witnesses, fictional insertions, parodies and mock realism.

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Matthew Screech, Susan Slyomovics, Armelle Blin-Rolland and Ana Merino

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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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Paul Gravett, Thierry Groensteen, Lance Rickman, Matthew Screech, Tanitoc and Clare Tufts

Notes on contributors

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Armelle Blind-Rolland, Véronique Bragard, Matthias Hausmann, Martha Kuhlman, John Moores and Matthew Screech

Notes on contributors