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Nicholas Robinette

The comics anthologies Ally Sloper and Escape magazine began publication in the 1970s and 1980s. They inherited a complex national situation, one in which locally produced comics always had to compete with foreign imports, primarily superhero comics from the United States. Each of these pioneering anthologies sought to create a space for small press and independent English comics and a wider sense of the history and potential of the medium, but in doing so, they had to negotiate a history and market shaped by the consumption of comics from the United States. Placing the anthologies within this larger situation, this article interprets the work of these various editors in terms of the national and cosmopolitan strategies they deployed as they sought to further develop English comics.

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Introduction

Comics and Adaptation

Armelle Blin-Rolland, Guillaume Lecomte and Marc Ripley

This introduction to this special issue of European Comic Art on ‘Comics and Adaptation’ provides a brief overview of the field of adaptation studies, with a particular focus on its considerable developments and expansion since the late 1990s, as it has moved beyond a comparative novel-to-film approach to centre instead around questions of intertextuality and hypertextuality. This special issue aims to contribute to this field and to the growing body of works on comics and adaptation. The authors explore questions of transnational circulation of visual, narrative and generic motifs (Boillat); heteronormalisation and phallogocentrism (Krauthaker and Connolly); authenticity of drawn events (Lecomte); identity in a stateless minoritised culture (Blin-Rolland); ‘high’ and popular culture (Blank); reverence in comic adaptations of the literary canon (de Rooy); and documentary and parody (Ripley).

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Sébastien Conard and Tom Lambeens

For Saint Augustine, time was a distentio animi, an extension of the mind. This opinion strongly differs from our modern understanding of time as a measurable parameter of the physical world. Nonetheless, subjectifying approaches still coexist alongside objectifying conceptions of time. They necessarily alternate in our daily lives: though we all keep years, seasons and hours in mind, we live through many moments very personally. Hence, it is indispensable that we pay attention to subjective time experience in the humanities and the arts. In this article, we introduce the concept of duration, as developed by Bergson and Deleuze, into the field of comics studies. We analyse the creation of an experience of time in the work of Chris Ware and Kevin Huizenga, focusing particularly on their deployment of repetition, but we also note how artists such as André Franquin and Willy Vandersteen transgressed classical reading time by invoking a feeling of duration. We go on to consider abstract comics, and the concrete awareness of the actual moment they offer to the reader, which generates direct experience of duration. However, taking Martin Vaughn-James' The Cage as an example, we point out that such a temporal sensation is not dependent on formal abstraction but can occur within the boundaries of pictorial figuration.

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Michael Scholz

The publication of comics from the 1950s onwards in East Germany started as a defensive reaction against Western comics. It did not take long for the medium to be used as an instrument for socialist propaganda. This was especially the case with the historical-political comics in the magazine Atze. This article provides an overview of the representation of the First World War and the German Revolution of 1918–1919 in Atze. It shows that Atze's stories closely followed the historical perspective prescribed by the communist party as well as the concept of the socialist picture story developed in the 1960s. These stories unfolded across series of individual images that generally avoided word balloons and sound effects and were accompanied by detailed text. Using a realistic style, such stories tried to convey a strong sense of authenticity but they remained unable to develop complex characters or stories. However, in refl ecting the changing political climate of their times, these comics provide a rich source of material for studying the portrayal of history in East Germany.

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A War Like Any Other . . . Or Nobler?

The Great War in the EC Comics

Jean-Matthieu Méon

The U.S. publisher EC Comics produced several war comics between 1950 and 1955. These comic books, especially the issues published during Harvey Kurtzman's editorship, are still considered masterpieces, as rare examples of war comics attempting to present an unvarnished account of the ordeals of war. This article focuses on the treatment of the Great War in comics. While current stories about the First World War usually underline its inhuman realities for the soldiers, the EC stories offered a more ambivalent representation. The now traditional stories of trenches and suffering infantry soldiers were counterbalanced by stories of heroic air fights and chivalrous aces. This approach towards the First World War as a 'noble war' progressively increased during the run of these comics, refl ecting the shifting balance that characterised the production of EC war comics: that between the constraints of the market, artistic ambition and the popular cultural mythology of air aces.

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Graphic Wounds

The Comics Journalism of Joe Sacco

Tristram Walker

This article explores the graphic reportage of Joe Sacco and his comic book travels through the conflict zones of Bosnia and Palestine. It traces the roots of travel writing comics to the politically antagonistic work of underground artists such as Robert Crumb and S. Clay Wilson, the alternative autobiographical scene that followed and how this informs the work of Sacco. The article analyzes two of Sacco's texts in particular, Palestine (2003) and Safe Area Gorazde (2000), looking at them as a whole and subjecting individual panels and sequences to close readings. This analysis teases out the ways in which Sacco engages with trauma and the wounded. It argues that although explicit violent imagery could be considered exploitative and voyeuristic, Sacco uses it to restore a sense of humanity to those dehumanized by the pace of globalized media.

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Flemish Comics versus Communist Atheism

Renaat Demoen’s Au pays de la grande angoisse (1950–1951)

Philippe Delisle

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.

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Dissenting Voices?

Controlling Children’s Comics under Franco

Rhiannon McGlade

The installation of the Franco dictatorship sparked an inadvertent boom in the production of comics. While many cartoonists hailing from Barcelona’s rich satirical tradition went into exile or clandestine publication, still more turned to the children’s comics market that had become firmly rooted in the Catalan capital since the 1920s. Until the 1950s, comics remained relatively free from censorial intervention, and the development of characters such as La Familia Ulises, Carpanta and Doña Urraca offered cartoonists an outlet for covert critique. However, in 1952, the Junta Asesora de la Prensa Infantil was established to police children’s publications for ‘inappropriate’ content, marking a turning point in the history of Spain’s comics genre. This article discusses the implications of specific legislation for editors, artists and their comic strip characters, focusing on the publications Pulgarcito, TBO and DDT.

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Mel Gibson

This article looks at girlhood in an historical and culturally specific context, through close textual analysis of a central narrative from a key British girls' comic of the 1950s. Girl, published by Hulton Press, predominantly addressed issues around femininity, girlhood and class in that period, often linking reading with other activities considered “appropriate” for girls. I will explore how Girl articulates gender and class and also how it encouraged the mainly middle-class readership to make ballet an important aspect of their cultural practice, popularising ballet classes across Britain. In doing so, I shall focus on the narrative, “Belle of the Ballet.” I will also look at other texts of the period, including Bunty, launched in 1958 by DC Thomson, and show how the representation of ballet changed in later comics for girls, relating this to shifting constructions of girlhood.

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Perspectives on Cinema and Comics

Adapting Feature Films into French-Language Comics Serials during the Post-war Years

Alain Boillat

This article focuses on the relatively little-known editorial context of children’s French-language comics serials at a time when they constituted the main distribution channel of the bande dessinée medium (before the album became the dominant format), from the immediate post-war years to the mid-1950s. I examine the importance given to the adaptation of films into bande dessinée by studying the editorial strategy to which this practice of adaptation contributes (focusing on the magazine L’Intrépide [The daredevil], which, at the time, specialised in adaptation) and the narrative and figurative aspects of the adapters’ approaches. I show in particular how bandes dessinées are inscribed in genres that structure the periodical publications, where these were previously established in the cinematographic domain such as the swashbuckler and the western. The processes of condensation or amplification of the narrative, as well as the use of the feuilleton, are at the centre of the case studies.