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Introduction

The Editors

As preparations get under way for the celebration, in 2009, of the eightieth anniversary of Tintin and the fiftieth of Astérix, it seems strange that, until now, there has been no journal in English dedicated to European comic art. In France recent Astérix albums have outsold Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code put together. The movie Astérix aux jeux olympiques [‘Asterix at the Olympic Games’], released on 13 January 2008, is one of the two most expensive French film productions of all time (with Le Cinquième élément [‘The Fifth Element’], on which cartoonists Jean Giraud and Jean-Claude Mézières collaborated), and has topped box office charts in Spain. Like Astérix in Paris, Belgian Schtroumpfs [‘Smurfs’] have their own theme park, and Italy’s Corto Maltese is popular enough to appear on scratchcards, Swatch watches and TV programmes across Europe.

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Editorial

The Editors

Among the many new books on comic strips published in the past year one of the most provocative has been Nicolas Rouvière’s Astérix ou la parodie des identités [‘Asterix or the Parody of Identities’].1 Rouvière provides a fascinating analysis of questions of national identity in René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s famous series of albums. Grosso modo, he suggests that the strips undermine hard nationalist prejudices, to create universal understanding between peoples. Rouvière contends that the Astérix series encourages the French to question the myths of their own national identity, and satirises their stereotyping of their neighbours (the French image of the British, the Belgians, the Swiss, etc.). He concludes that Astérix runs counter to a world based on the ‘clash of civilisations’ model famously employed by Samuel Huntington.

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Editorial

European Comic Art Reaches Its Tenth Year

The Editors

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Editorial

Historical Perspectives – Theory and Practices

The Editors

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Editorial

The Editors

This is the second issue of Aspasia. The inaugural volume, focussing on Central, Eastern and Southeastern European feminisms, was published in 2007. As editors, we are proud of the breath and richness of the essays and Forum contributions in that first issue. We hope this volume lives up to the standard of excellence set by the premier volume.

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General Introduction

The Editors

European Comic Art has moved from Liverpool to Oxford, and we are happy to be working with Mark Stanton and his colleagues at Berghahn Books, whose headquarters are within sight of a dreaming spire or two but just as close to East Oxford, where the longest-standing continuous annual comics festival in Britain, ‘Caption’, has been held every summer since 1992.

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Cultural Difference and Diversity in French-Language Comics

The Editors

The treatment of cultural difference and diversity by French-speaking cartoonists has changed radically over the last few decades, as four articles in this special issue demonstrate. What has not changed since the nineteenth century is the centrality of these themes to comics, which have been a globalizing medium in a shrinking world throughout the period. French-language comics are exemplary of these transformations, insofar as France was a major imperialist power during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Moreover, France has long been home to ethnic and religious minorities, and was a major center of immigration during the twentieth century. These socio-historical trends have left a huge imprint on comics within France itself, but the French also exported the form along with their language to most of their colonies, which has given rise to (post-)colonial traditions of cartooning in French-speaking regions across the globe.

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Editorial

Comics Adaptations of Literary Works

The Editors

This edition of European Comic Art (ECA) is devoted to comics adaptations of literary works. It thereby makes a contribution to adaptation studies, a field that has rapidly expanded in tune with the postmodern awareness that we can no longer securely assign texts to individual authors as genesis and sole creative origin, even if the phenomenon of adaptation itself is not new. Gérard Genette points out that ‘l’humanité, qui découvre sans cesse du sens, ne peut toujours inventer de nouvelles formes’ [humanity, which keeps discovering new meanings, cannot always invent new forms].

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Editorial

Comics in Dialogue with Other Arts

The Editors

Throughout the history of comics, there has been dialogue between comics and other arts: architecture and literature, caricature and cartoons, painting and music, film and photography, and so on. Some of these, such as architecture, caricature and painting, were present from the very beginnings of comics as a modern art form, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. For example, the importance of architecture was already apparent in the Northern Looking Glass in a page from 23 January 1826 featuring a cross-section of a building as the framework for a cartoon plate resembling a comics page, though without the sequentiality of the latter.

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Introduction

Comics, the Social World and Challenging Consensus

The Editors

Comics, and in particular European comics, has always engaged with the social world, whether to contest or to uphold its norms. From its antecedents in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century caricature, it inherited a strong current of satire and critique. In the adventure genre that marked the emergence of European comics in its modern form in the first part of the twentieth century, engagement with the world was no less evident, but most often served, rather, to defend the dominant order, colonial or anti-communist, as heroes set off to right wrongs in far-flung places.