'National' culture, one that is linked to the daily perception of cultural artefacts and inevitably affected by the context of globalisation, can be considered through the optic of Belgian comics. And although Belgian national culture escapes easy characterisation, it can at least be explored from three different angles. Firstly, Flemish comics will be discussed in terms of the Flemish way of 'doing comics' or, more broadly, anti-Belgicism, in terms of both political subtext and language issues. Secondly, francophone Belgian comics can be approached as an example of cultural blindness, marked by 'evasion' or the playing-down of Belgian specificity in broad cultural as well as more precise linguistic terms. Drawing upon the works of Deleuze and Guattari, these examples can then be used as an outline for a framework of broader analysis regarding national cultures in peripheral situations.
Renaat Demoen’s Au pays de la grande angoisse (1950–1951)
It is well known that from 1920 to 1950, Belgian comics, embedded in a Catholic milieu, sometimes promoted anti-Communism. Au pays de la grande angoisse, drawn by Renaat Demoen and published from 1950 to 1951 in Zonneland and Petits Belges, fits into this category. Nonetheless, its ideological stance can be differentiated from that of series appearing in major Franco-Belgian magazines. Au pays de la grande angoisse is Flemish, intended only for the Belgian market, and therefore not subject to the control of the French Control Commission set up by the July 1949 law. Its critique of Eastern bloc countries is more explicit and more violent. Moreover, the story appeared in comics with a religious affiliation. It sets out to denounce the atheism of the Communists and to glorify the resistance of the believers. Ultimately, Au pays de la grande angoisse is as much a Christian comic as an adventure comic.
Ian Hague, Nancy Pedri, José Alaniz, Stefano Ascari and Silke Horstkotte
Daniel Stein and Jan-Noël Thon, eds, From Comic Strips to Graphic Novels: Contributions to the Theory and History of Graphic Narrative
Barbara Postema, Making Sense of Fragments: Narrative Structure in Comics
Shane Denson, Christina Meyer and Daniel Stein, eds., Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads
Mélanie Van Der Hoorn, Bricks and Balloons: Architecture in Comic Strip Form
Thomas Hausmanninger, Verschwörung und Religion: Aspekte der Postsäkularität in den franco-belgischen Comics [Conspiracy and Religion: Aspects of Post-Secularity in Franco-Belgian Comics]
Bruno Denéchère and Luc Révillon, 14–18 dans la bande dessinée: Images de la Grande Guerre de Forton à Tardi [‘World War I in [Franco-Belgian] comics: Images of the Great War from Forton to Tardi’], Collection La bulle au Carré (Turquant: Cheminements, 2008), 167 pp. isbn 978-2-84478-697-5 (€24).
Vincent Marie and L’Historial de la Grande Guerre, Images de la Grande Guerre dans la bande dessinée de 1914 à aujourd’hui [‘Images of the Great War in Comics from 1914 to the Present’] (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2009). 111 pp. isbn 978-88-7439-518-7 (€25).
Mark McKinney and Hervé (Baru) Baruleau
This is the second portion of an interview with Hervé Barulea, or Baru, one of the most accomplished French cartoonists living today, conducted at his home in France on 15 July 2011. The first part of the interview was published in European Comic Art 4.1 (fall 2011), 213-237. Baru talks here about a broad range of important topics, including autobiography, the roles of work and leisure in his comics, boxing (his focus in two comics), the society of the spectacle, representations of women and minorities in comics, the heritage of classic French and Belgian comics (series such as Tintin, Yves-le-Loup ['Ivan-the-Wolf'] and Spirou) and the clear-line drawing style, experimentation by Oubapo, space, his drawing style and techniques for making comics, his current and future projects, his former teaching position in the Ecole des beaux-arts in Nancy, and the relationship of comics to fine art.