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News Review January 2016

Americas

Canada

Research

There is a call for papers for the conference “Transmédialité, Bande dessinée, Adaptation”, which will take place as part of the ACFAS convention in Montreal, from the 11th to the 13th May 2016. Abstracts are due by the 5th February. Link (31/12/2015, French, BC)

Culture

As part of its “Imaginings Project” , the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography is holding its ‘Comics and the Anthropological Imagination’ exhibition every Monday which began on the 9th November 2015. Link (03/02/2016, English, ST)

United States

Research

The new issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly (9.4) is a special issue focused upon “Comics as Scholarship”. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for a collection entitled Superheroes and Critical Animal Studies. Abstracts are due by the 15th March for possible inclusion into this edited collection which seeks to explore the world of animal rights and liberation against the backdrop of superheroes in film, television, and comics. Link (24/01/2015, English, WG)

The Comics and Popular Arts Conference (CPAC) invites submissions for its ninth annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, taking place between the 2nd and 5th September. The submission deadline for abstracts is the 15th February. Link (English, WG)

The Visual Narrative Reader, edited by Neil Cohn, has been published through Bloomsbury. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for the conference, Deaf-initely Ironic…? “Cripping” the Comic Con 2016, which takes place at Syracuse University on the 1st April. The deadline for proposals is the 8th February. Link (English, WG)

“How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”: Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs, by Tahneer Oksman, has been published through Columbia University Press. Link (English, WG)

The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics, by Ramzi Fawaz, has been published through New York University Press. Link (English, WG)

Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form, by Hillary Chute, has been published through Harvard University Press. Link (English, WG)

A new book titled Documentary Comics: Graphic Truth-Telling in a Skeptical Age, by Nicky Mickwitz has been published by Palgrave Macmillan which examines some early 21st Century comics as a form of documentary. Link (English, ST)

Asia

Japan

Culture

The exhibition of works by Urasawa Naoki (Author of the best-selling manga series Monster, 20th Century Boys, and Pluto) at Setagaya Literary Museum is open until the 31st March. Related events will be held on the 28th February and the 12th March. Link (Japanese, JBS)

The Graduation Works exhibition of the students graduating Kyoto Seika University’s Faculty of Manga, will be exhibited at Kyoto International Manga Museum from the 17th to the 21st February. During this period, access to the museum is free. Link (English, JBS)

The award-winning works of the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival will be exhibited from the 3rd until the 14th February at the National Art Center in Tokyo (as well as a number of affiliated venues). There are four categories (Art, Entertainment, Animation, and Manga), and the awarded works were chosen from among 4417 from 87 countries. Link (English, JBS)

An exhibition, The Exhibition of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, will be held at Roppongi Hills from the 16th April until the 19th June, with original art from manga artist Takeuchi Naoko. Link (Japanese, JBS)

Europe

Austria

Culture

A Barbara Yelin exhibition is being shown in Krems until the 14th February. Link (28/01/2016, German, MdlI)

France

Business

The most recent Astérix album, Asterix And The Missing Scroll, is France’s highest-selling book of 2015. Link (27/01/2016, French, LTa)

Culture

Belgian author Hermann wins this year’s Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival; Here, by Richard McGuire wins best album with Best Series going to Ms. Marvel by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. Link 1 (27/11/2016, English, LTa) Link 2 (20/01/2016, English, LTa)

A ‘fake awards ceremony’, preceding the genuine Angoulême International Comics Festival prize giving, has caused more controversy at this year’s festival. Link 1 (1/02/2016, English, LTa) Link 2 (31/01/2016, English, LTa)

A global controversy ensued after the Angoulême International Comics Festival released the long list for its Grand Prix award, which included no women cartoonists. The debate was initiated by the Collectif des Créatrices de Bande Dessinée Contre le Sexisme and fuelled by several nominees backing out of the list. Link 1 (05/01/2016, French, BC) Link 2 (06/01/2016, English, BC)

Research

Neuvième Art 2.0 published a new online issue devoted to Jacques Tardi. Link (11/01/2016, French, BC)

There is a call for papers for the bilingual workshop “Les femmes et la bande dessinée: autorialités et représentations/ Women and comics, authorships and representations,” which will take place on the 2nd June. Abstracts are due by the 31st March. Link (18/01/2016, French/English, BC)

Germany

Culture

The LUCHS children’s book award goes to Der Traum von Olympia by Reinhard Kleist. Link (18/01/2016, German, MdlI)

An exhibition on contemporary LGBT superhero comics is shown in Berlin until the 26th June. Link (21/01/2016, German, MdlI)

A radio feature on Erika Fuchs was broadcast. Link (22/01/2016, German, MdlI)

A Richard McGuire exhibition opens in Frankfurt on the 30th January. Link (25/01/2016, German, MdlI)

An MCM Comic Con is going to take place in Hanover on the 4th and 5th June. Link (26/01/2016, German, MdlI)

Obituary

Hansrudi Wäscher died aged 87 on the 7th January. Link (08/01/2016, German, MdlI)

Research

The January issue of literaturkritik.de focuses on comics. Link (German, MdlI)

Hungary

Culture

The Hungarian Comics Association in co-operation with kArton Gallery has started a series of workshops to promote interaction and creativity in the Hungarian Comics World. The monthly event series will feature talks by artists, discussions of various techniques, and common improvisations. The first workshop was held on the 12th January. Link (Hungarian, ES)

Portugal

Culture

BDteca2016 is taking place until March at the Library of Odemira. The show includes exhibitions, workshops, and a comics contest. Participants can enter until the 12th February. Link (04/01/2016, Portuguese, RR)

The exhibition, Nos 80 Anos d’O Mosquito [In the 80 yeas of O Mosquito], dedicated to the comics magazine O Mosquito, is being hosted at the Portuguese National Library until the 29th February. Link (26/01/2016, Portuguese, RR)

The Clube Português de Banda Desenhada in Amadora is hosting an exhibition related to O Mosquito and is open until the 12th March. Link (15/01/2016, Portuguese, RR)

Spain

Culture

The graphic novels publishing house, Astiberri, has celebrated its 15th anniversary. Link (26/01/2016, Spanish, EdRC)

The University of Córdoba is organising “dialectic battles” between superheroes to promote science. The next ‘battle’ will feature Batman vs. Spiderman (10th February) and Jean Grey vs. Wonder Woman (9th March). Link (10/12/2015, Spanish, EdRC)

Following this year’s Angoulême International Comics Festival’s controversial shortlist not including women, an article has been written about sexism and the role of women in Spanish comics. Link (12/01/2016, Spanish, EdRC)

UK

Culture

The exhibition, Comic Invention, will be hosted at the Hunterian Art Gallery from the 18th March until the 17th July. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for the 17th “Forum for Iberian Studies, which will take place at the University of Oxford between the 29th and 30th September. The conference will focus on current issues in the Iberian Peninsula and there will be a panel on comics. Abstracts between 200 and 250 words should be written in English or, additionally, in any other peninsular language and must be sent by the 1st May. Link (25/01/2016, English, EdRC)

Research

Comics Grid has an event report on the symposium, “From Hogarth to Hellboy: Transformations of the Visual Reader”, which was hosted at Senate House Library, University of London on the 16th December. Link (19/12/2015, English, WG)

*                    *                    *

News Editor: Simon Turner (comicsforumnews@hotmail.co.uk)

Correspondents: Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto (JBS, Japan), Enrique del Rey Cabero (EdRC, Spain), Benoît Crucifix (BC, Canada and France), William Grady (WG, United States and UK), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Austria and Germany), Renatta Rafaella (RR, Portugal), Eszter Szép (ES, Hungary), Lise Tannahill (LTa, France), and Simon Turner (ST, Canada and United States).

Click here for News Review correspondent biographies.

Click here to see the News Review archive.

Suggestions for articles to be included in the News Review can be sent to Simon Turner at the email address above.

 

 
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Posted by on 2016/02/04 in News Review, Uncategorized

 

The Bi-Monthly ComFor Update for December 2015

by Laura Oehme

Following up on Nina’s update from October, I am providing the sixth and last ComFor update on current developments in German comics studies for 2015. However, before I concentrate on the last two months of 2015 in Germany, I would like to point out that the first academic position for “Graphic Fiction and Comic Art” (connected to a PhD program) at Lancaster University also attracted much interest with the German press. The professorship marks a milestone in comics studies worldwide and, hopefully, the beginning of a trend, as the Scottish University of Dundee also uploaded a job advertisment for a lecturer in comics studies. It is still a long way to an interdisciplinary department solely dedicated to comics studies, but every little step counts. Congratulations to French graphic novelist Benoît Peeters for his appointment are in order!

Conferences, Workshops, Symposiums

Since the fall season for conferences has already passed, the last two months of 2015 brought only a few academic events focusing on comics to light. On November 24, ComFor member Daniel Stein organized a workshop with Björn Hammel titled “Mediamorphose: Die mediale Transformation der Graphic Novel TearTalesTrust” (“Mediamorphosis: The Medial Transformation of the Graphic Novel TearTalesTrust”) at the University of Siegen. A few days later, on November 27–28, an interdisciplinary student conference on “The Rise of Sequential History: Historische Comics in Theorie und Praxis” (Historical Comics in Theory and in the Field) took place at the LMU in Munich. On December 4, the University of Kiel hosted a study day on “Comic & Kunstgeschichte” (Comics & Art History). I would also like to mention the new PhD program “Die Arbeit und ihre Subjekte” (Work and its Subjects) at the University of Duisburg-Essen that explicitly touted for comics projects, for which applicants were able to get funding for three years beginning in 2016.

Publications

In November, the second issue of the very first German-language e-journal for comics studies Closure was released. It focuses on “the dark side” of comics, introduces the new category “ComicKontext,” and includes articles and reviews by numerous ComFor members. Additionally, as every December, two classical yearbooks went into print: Deutsche Comicforschung 2016, edited by Eckart Sackmann, and the Comic-Jahrbuch 2016 of ICOM, edited by Burkhard Ihme. Furthermore, Julia Abel and Christian Klein edited one of the first German-language introductions to comics and graphic novels with J.B. Metzler (Comics und Graphic Novels: Eine Einführung). It covers a wide area of disciplinary perspectives and features contributions by eight ComFor members.

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Posted by on 2016/02/04 in ComFor Updates

 

News Review December 2015

Americas

United States

Education

The Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, administered by the Library of Congress, is accepting applications for its graduate fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. The deadline for applications is the 15th February 2016. Link (English, WG)

Research

The Comics Arts Conference welcomes proposals for its 2016 conference at the San Diego Comic-Con. The submission deadline is the 1st February 2016. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for a special issue of Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, entitled “Freaked and Othered Bodies in Comics”. Abstracts of 150 words, with a 50-word biography, should be submitted by the 15th March 2016. Link (08/12/2015, English, WG)

There is a call for papers for the panel ‘Comics and/as Rhetoric: (Anti)Static Narratives’, which will be part of the Pennsylvania College English Association’s 2016 conference, taking place at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on the 21st and 22nd October 2016. Abstracts are due by the 1st March  2016. Link (15/12/2015, English, WG)

The Comics Studies Society has published its first newsletter. Link (English, ST)

Europe

Belgium

Research

The ACME Comics Research Group announced the calendar for its speaker series 2015-2016. Link (09/12/2015, French, BC)

The CRISP (Centre de recherche et d’informations socio-politiques), an independent organisation researching political decision-making in Belgium, has published a report on the economic sector of Belgian Francophone comics. Link (17/12/2015, French, BC)

France

Culture

The comics criticism website du9, l’autre bande dessinée is republishing online essays by Balthazar Kaplan and Barthélémy Schwartz from Controverse and Dorénavant, accompanied by retrospective interviews with the authors. Link (04/12/2015, French, BC)

The Angoulême comics festival announced the program for its 2016 edition. Link (01/12/2015, French, BC)

Research

The CLIMAS research lab issued a call for papers for their conference “Translators of Comics”, to take place on the 13th and 14th October 2016. Abstracts are due by the 31st March 2016. Link (French, BC)

Germany

Culture

An exhibition on Héctor Germán Oesterheld’s El Eternauta is going to be shown in Stuttgart from the 18th January until the 15th April. Link (14/12/2015, German, Mdll)

Research

Comics und Graphic Novels – Eine Einführung, edited by Julia Abel and Christian Klein, has been published. Link (07/12/2015, German, Mdll)

New issues of the yearbooks Deutsche Comicforschung and Comic-Jahrbuch have been published. Link (17/12/2015, German, Mdll)

Portugal

Culture

On 27th November the first issue of the Portuguese Comics Newsletter was published. The newsletter, titled “Jankenpon”, consists of a compilation of comics strips created by various Portuguese authors. Link (15/12/2015, Portuguese, RR)

Portuguese author André Morgado and Brazilian illustrator Alexandre Leoni have published their comic book titled The hidden life of Fernando Pessoa. The book is about the life of well-known Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa and was launched during Comic Con in Matosinhos on the 4th December. Link (18/11/2015, Portuguese, RR)

On the 26th November the comic book As Aventuras de Fernando Pessoa, Escritor Universal… [The adventures of Fernando Pessoa, universal writer…] by Miguel Moreira and Catarina Verder was published. The book launch took place at Almedina Book Store in Saldanha, Lisbon. Link (14/11/2015, Portuguese, RR)

On the 18th December the author Patrícia Guimarães published the book Stabat Mater at the Irreal Bar in Lisbon. The book’s artwork is displayed until the 7th January in the same place. Link (Portuguese, RR)

Spain

Culture

Isabel Bas Amat has been awarded the 2015 Premio de Honor del Colectivo de Autoras de Cómic (Honorary Prize of the Comics Female Authors Association). Link (18/12/2015, Spanish, EdRC)

“Ilustrar la libertad”, an exhibition with works by various authors who have collaborated with Amnesty International to send illustrated postcards to prisoners of conscience, can be visited at Centro Centro Cibeles in Madrid from the 10th December until the 10th January. Link (10/12/2015, Spanish, EdRC)

“An Ape’s Progress (y otros cuentos)”, an exhibition with works by Dave McKean, can be visited at Galería Artizar in Tenerife from the 12th December until the 22nd January. Link (03/12/2015, Spanish, EdRC)

Obituaries

Spanish illustrator and author Luis Bermejo has passed away. Link (12/12/2015, Spanish, EdRC)

Switzerland

Culture

The winners of the annual Töpffer awards are Alex Baladi for Autoportrait and Patrice Killoffer for Killoffer tel qu’en lui-même. Link (05/12/2015, French, BC)

UK

Job

There is a job advertisement for a part-time Research Assistant on the project Misty Visual and Lexical Analysis Project. A brief CV and covering letter are required by the 1st February. Link (07/12/2015, English, WG)

The School of Humanities at the University of Dundee seeks to appoint a lecturer in Comics Studies. The closing date for applications is the 31st January. Link (English, WG)

Research

The Graphic Medicine 2016 conference will take place at the University of Dundee between the 7th and 9th July 2016. The theme of the conference is “Stages and Pages”, and abstracts should be submitted by the 12th February. Link (04/12/15, English, WG)

Reading Art Spiegelman, by Philip Smith, has been published by Routledge. Link (English, WG)

*                    *                    *

News Editor: Simon Turner (comicsforumnews@hotmail.co.uk)

Correspondents: Enrique del Rey Cabero (EdRC, Spain), Benoît Crucifix (BC, Belgium, France, and Switzerland), William Grady (WG, United States and UK), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Germany), Renatta Rafaella (RR, Portugal), and Simon Turner (ST).

Click here for News Review correspondent biographies.

Click here to see the News Review archive.

Suggestions for articles to be included in the News Review can be sent to Simon Turner at the email address above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on 2016/01/04 in News Review

 

Introducing Russian Comic Artists by Maria Evdokimova

This is the final instalment of a three-part series on Russian comics by Maria Evdokimova. See here for part 1, “The History of Russian Comics: An Interview with Misha Zaslavskiy” and here for part 2 “What comics are published and read in Russia?”

From “pictured stories” to comics

Plenty of contemporary Russian comic authors – particularly those who are in their mid-30s and whose childhood was spent in the USSR – consider Soviet illustrators and authors of “pictured stories” (the Soviet term for comics) their teachers. Soviet artists like Egeniy Migunov, Gennadiy Kalinovskiy, Genrich Valk, and Gennadiy Novozhilov created caricatures, illustrations, and animated cartoons that have become classics. The new generation of artists has grown up under the influence of their works.

At the same time, the influence of foreign artists was considerable. The French comic magazine Pif was very popular in the USSR. This magazine used to be sold in foreign literature aisles of book stores, and certain stories were issued in the magazine Nauka I zhizn (Science and Life). Another source of inspiration was Hergé’s Tintin. As a child, artist Roman Surzhenko used to be fond of the popular stories about Petya the Red-Head by Ivan Semyonov, and he assumes that those stories were influenced by the Tintin comics.

In 1988, the comic studio KOM was founded, which was located under the editor’s office of the daily newspaper Vechernyaya Moskva (Evening Moscow). In this studio a great number of popular Russian comic artists started their creative careers. Among them are Askold Akishin, Andrey Snegiryov, Andrey Ayoshin, Evgeniy Zhigunov, and Misha Zaslavskiy. These authors started a number of interesting projects. Misha Zaslavskiy (see part 1 for an interview) and Askold Akishin created the graphic adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita, which was first published by one of the Russian publishing houses, but was taken on by French publisher Actes Sud in 2005. Today, Askold Akishin’s nickname is “the father of Russian horror”. Among his most prominent works are the graphic adaptations of Mikhail Bulgakov’s work, the stories by Ray Bradbury, Wilhelm Hauff, and the series Pionerskaya Pravda: Horror (The Truth For Young Pioneers: Horror) based on spooky stories told by Soviet schoolchildren in the 1970s. In 2013, publishing house Boomkniga published Akishin’s graphic novel My Comics Biography. The book is a combination of the author’s personal life story, the story of his creative career, and the history of comics in Russia. In 2015, the Russian publishing house Alt Graph released his graphic novel based on H.P. Lovecraft’s stories.

Akishin. My Comics Biography.Akishin. The Truth For Young Pioneers Horror

Various works by Askold Akishiny: My Comics Biography, The Truth For Young Pioneers: Horror, and Zombie in USSR. Used with permission from Askold Akishin.

Various works by Askold Akishin: My Comics Biography, The Truth For Young Pioneers: Horror, and Zombie in USSR. Used with permission from Askold Akishin.

Andrey and Natalya Snegiryov, who also started their career at the KOM studio, created one of the most popular and long lived comics projects in Russia: the children’s comic series Keshka. This comic was published in the weekly newspaper Semya (Family) from 1991 to 1998, and it was later issued as a collected edition. Andrey and Natalya’s colleague and editor Misha Zaslavskiy says: “The Snegiryovs made heroic efforts to save the series about the cat Keshka, which continued existing even during the slack period in the Russian comic publishing industry. This spotty cat with its constant stupid facial expression was helped out by loyal readers’ love and the authors’ diligence.” The Snegiryovs created other children’s comic series after this, and two comic books dealing with the themes of living independently after growing up in an orphanage or boarding school, titled What will happen tomorrow and The Bride, were published in 2015.

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Andrey and Natalya Snegiryov's works: Keshka and The Bride. Used with permission from Andrey Snegiryov and Natalya Snegiryov.

Andrey and Natalya Snegiryov’s works: Keshka and The Bride. Used with permission from Andrey Snegiryov and Natalya Snegiryov.

The artist Andrey Ayoshin (nicknamed Tzratzk) – who also started at KOM – created caricatures and comic strips for newspapers in the 1990s. In 1991 he started an internet library of comics published in the former Soviet republics, titled Komiksolyot. This online resource had a great impact on the development of Russian artists. Comic book writer Roman Surzhenko recollects: “To tell you the truth, I grew dumb with astonishment when I saw Komiksolyot. I had a feeling that a huge train was blasting past me and I had to jump onto this running train. In the website news archive I found an “Artist wanted” advertisement posted quite a while ago, and I sent a few examples of my works…” Andrey Ayoshin now works as a freelance illustrator and comic artist.

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Work by Andrey Ayoshin (Tzratzk). Used with permission from Andrey Ayoshin.

Work by Andrey Ayoshin (Tzratzk). Used with permission from Andrey Ayoshin.

Collaborations with foreign publishers

Analyzing Russian comic artists’ biographies, one cannot but notice that it’s because of their favorite comic books that almost all of them have had an urge to draw comics since childhood. The Russian comic author Yuriy Zhigunov, who as a child was greatly influenced by Tintin and for whom Belgian comics have forever become a model of the medium, is now working in Belgium. Misha Zaslavskiy, who used to work together with Yuriy at the KOM comic studio, remembers: “Since the Russian comic community was filled with dismay and the most optimistic prognosis sounded like: ‘We have to wait for another five or ten years until comics market has appeared in Russia and that’s when we can get down to business’, Zhigunov wisely suggested that one might have to wait for that hypothetical comic market forever. So he made up his mind to search for the job wherever the market already existed.” In 1994, Yuriy left for Brussels and visited the editorial office of French publisher Le Lombard. There, he presented his work Pisma Krivtsova (Krivtsov’s Letters) which was originally intended for European readers and a European market. Only one year later this comic album hit the shelves in Europe. The main work by Zhigunov that was published by Le Lombard was his artwork for a series of adventure and espionage graphic novels titled Alpha, and a little while later he became a scriptwriter for this series.

Another example of childhood inspiration is the story of artist Roman Surzhenko. Le Lombard decided to expand the universe of comic series Thorgal and was considering a few artists for working at new episodes, and Roman was asked to contribute. Roman himself connects this decision to the fact that he had been exploring Grzegorz Rosinski’s style since he was 19 years old. Grzegorz Rosinski, the artist who created immortal illustrations for Thorgal, was Roman’s favorite.

While on the subject of Russian artists’ collaboration with foreign publishers, Artyom Trakhanov should be mentioned. This young but already experienced comic writer had his works published by Image Publishing House in 2014. Artyom was creating his non-profit web comics Mad Blade when the famous script writer Steve Orlando took notice of the young author and offered him the opportunity to collaborate. Their collaborative work resulted in the science fiction series Undertow. Six issues of this story were published in the USA from February to July of 2014, and in 2015 this comics was published by publishing house Komilfo in Russian.

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Examples of work by Artyom Trakhanov: Undertow (script: Steve Orlando) and Forbidden Love (script: Jesse Young). Used with permission from Artyom Trakhanov.

Examples of work by Artyom Trakhanov: Undertow (script: Steve Orlando) and Forbidden Love (script: Jesse Young). Used with permission from Artyom Trakhanov.

Today, Artyom is the one of the most wanted professionals in the Russian industry, as well as a desirable guest at Russian comic festivals. One of the most popular questions he is asked is “How do you find opportunities to cooperate with foreign publishers?”. Artyom answers that you should be as active as possible on social media. One more fool-proof formula for starting collaborative projects with foreign publishers is by working with international agencies, just as in the sphere of traditional literature. For instance, in addition to many years of experience and knowledge of Rosinski’s style, the Tomato Farm Agency also helped Roman Surzhenko become the author of the spin-off series The Worlds of Thorgal.

Fanzines and festivals

International comic festivals have had a great impact on the Russian comics community. The comic art festivals KomMissiya (The ComMission), held since 2002 in Moscow, and Boomfest in St. Petersburg, held since 2007, have become communication platforms and magnets for everyone who is interested in comics. The organizers of Boomfest have created a publishing house called Boomkniga, one of the few publishers that works with Russian authors. They work with well-known artists such as Askold Akishin, and with a new, younger generation of comic artists – often participants that stood out at the Boomfest festival.

For example, the artist Danya Udobniy from Kaliningrad first found himself taking part in the Boomfest festival with his fanzines, which were quickly sold out. These zines were then picked up and published by Boomkniga. Invited by the director of the publishing house and the festival, Dmitriy Yakovlev, Danya returned to the festivals as a speaker, telling his story of “how he started drawing comics, to help people muster up the courage to start (in case they want to).”

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Examples from Danya Udobnyi’s “Somnoy” (“Withme”). Used with permission from Danya Udobnyi.

Examples from Danya Udobnyi’s “Somnoy” (“Withme”). Used with permission from Danya Udobnyi.

Since 2013, the festival Sam Izdam (“Publish It Yourself”) is held in Russia. In 2014, the graphic novel Borovitsky joined the shortlist of this festival. Borovitsky’s author is Ivan Eshukov, whose biography is typical of Russian comic writers. Like many authors, he started a comic studio with fellow artists, took part in comic festivals, and created book illustrations and commercial comics. Ivan is now creating, publishing, and selling his graphic novel Borovitsky in his home town Omsk. It’s in the town Omsk of 1919, at that time the capital of White Russia, that the scene of the detective graphic novel is set.

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Pages of the graphic novel “Borovitsky” by Ivan Eshukov. Used with permission from Ivan Eshukov.

Pages of the graphic novel “Borovitsky” by Ivan Eshukov. Used with permission from Ivan Eshukov.

Ivan Eshukov is one of the few Russian comics authors to have received high appreciation from fellow artist David Lloyd. Lloyd appeared on the “Videosalon” web show on the Maxim Russia YouTube Channel. In this web show star guests evaluate their Russian colleagues’ creative works. The artist Nicolay Pisarev posted on his home page: “It’s so pleasant when your book is praised by readers. But it’s even more pleasant when the reader is David Lloyd!” Lloyd liked Nicolay’s graphics drawn for the surrealistic comics Predmety (The Objects). Nicolay has explained that that the storyline of Predmety was inspired by Carl Gustav Jung’s work.

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The comic Predmety, artwork by Nicolay Pisarev. Used with permission from Nicolay Pisarev.

The comic Predmety, artwork by Nicolay Pisarev. Used with permission from Nicolay Pisarev.

Daily routine and dreams of Russian comic authors

The Russian comic authors’ community is quite intimate and fruitfully cooperative. Two interesting projects that united several artists were published in 2015. One of those projects is the collected book of comic strips Tsvety na zemle (Flowers On the Earth), a graphic adaptation of the Russian writer Andrey Platonov’s stories, published by Grotesque Publishing House. The other team project is the collected book of comics Gorelovo, published by Komilfo Publishing House. Vitaliy Terletskiy, the creative director of the publishing house, was the scriptwriter for 12 stories, drawn by different artists in various styles but following a common plot-line.

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Covers of the collected books of comic strips by Russian authors, published in 2015: Gorelovo (Komilfo Publishing House) and Tsvety na zemle (Grotesque Publishing House). Used with permission from Vitaliy Terletskiy, the creative director of Komilfo Publishing House, and Artyom Lahin, the editor of the book Tsvety na zemle)

Covers of the collected books of comic strips by Russian authors, published in 2015: Gorelovo (Komilfo Publishing House) and Tsvety na zemle (Grotesque Publishing House). Used with permission from Vitaliy Terletskiy, the creative director of Komilfo Publishing House, and Artyom Lahin, the editor of the book Tsvety na zemle.

As a rule, Russian comic authors have a regular job in one of the related professional spheres (design, printing industry, illustration) which supplies them with a steady income. The young artist Sasha Baranovskaya, a regular participant of Boomfest, says: “I plan to develop my skills to become a commercial illustrator in the first place, but to make a career as a cartoonist in Russia is easier said than done. I was educated to be a fashion designer, so, who knows, maybe I will still have to work within my specialty”.

What are Russian comics about? For instance,Veter umer (The Wind is Dead) by Danya Udobnyi, Chuvak (The Dude) by Zakhar Yaschin, and Bez tela (Without body) by Julia Nikitina (Ner-tamin) are about existential conflict, looking for one’s place in this life. Pionerskaya Pravda: Horror by Askold Akishin, Borovitsky by Ivan Eshukov, Doctor Lutsid by Alexey Volkov, and Aurora: drugaya istoruya (Aurora: another story) by Maria Konopatova and Timofey Mokienko are fantasy stories unfolding against the background of real Russian history. Undertow by Artyom Trakhanov, Predmety by Nicolay Pisarev, Bez slov (Without words) by Evgeniy Yakovlev, and Architects by Ilya Obukhov are fantasy comics. Ksenia Kudo works in the shōjo manga genre: “I don’t really like horror. The stories I want to tell my readers are about friendship, respect and love.”

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Pages taken from “Bez tela” by julia Nikitina, ““Bez slov” by Evgeniy Yakovev, and manga by Ksenia Kudo. Used with permission from Julia Nikitina, Evgenty Yakovev and Ksenia Kudo.

Pages taken from “Bez tela” by Julia Nikitina, ““Bez slov” by Evgeniy Yakovev, and manga by Ksenia Kudo. Used with permission from Julia Nikitina, Evgenty Yakovev and Ksenia Kudo.

The authors’ plans are also various; Nicolay Pisarev wants to draw a “ghastly apocalyptic story about a serial killer with more than three characters, with a lot of dialogues and action scenes, and also to create a children’s fairy tale for grown-ups based on Slavonic mythology”. Zakhar Yashin is working on his autobiographical comic, “recollections of childhood and youth, with love and death and modest provincial adventures”. Alexey Volkov plans to create a comic strip in a pulp-fiction style inspired by the peculiarities of his country. And Julia Nikitina is now creating a graphic novel about love for music.

Maria Evdokimova is from Omsk, Russia and works in public relations. From 2006-2008 she worked at the publishing house Green Cat, which published series by Sergio Bonelli Editore. In 2007 she prepared the exhibition “Comics in Russia: yesterday, today, tomorrow” in her home town. At the moment she is working with the Russian comic author Ivan Eshukov. Email: evdokimovamasha1@gmail.com

For more information about these artists:

Andrey Ayoshin

Sasha Baranovskaya

Ivan Eshukov

Maria Konopatova

Ksenia Kudo

Ilya Obukhov

Nicolay Pisarev

Julia Nikitina

Andrey Snegirev

Roman Surzhenko

Artyom Trakhanov

Danya Udobniy

Zakhar Yaschin

Evgeniy Yakovlev

 

 
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Posted by on 2015/12/30 in Guest Writers

 

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What Comics are Published and Read in Russia? by Maria Evdokimova

This is part 2 of a three-part series on Russian comics by Maria Evdokimova. See here for part 1, “The History of Russian Comics: An Interview with Misha Zaslavskiy”. Part 3, “Introducing Russian Comic Artists”, will follow soon.

Five participants in the contemporary Russian comics scene,

Ivan Chernyavskiy, the co-owner of the comic book store “Chuk I Geek”,

Vitaliy Terletskiy, the creative director of Komilfo Publishing House;

Vladimir Morozov, the art-director of Zangavar Publishing House;

Anatoly Dunaev, the director of Alt Graph Publishing House;

Ilya Obukhov, the co-owner of the creative association “Live Bubbles”,

have told us about how matters stand today.

“Russian reader is stuck in 2008”

There are several dozen comics publishing houses in Russia. Comic shops’ bestsellers are the comics by American publishing companies Marvel, DC, Image, and others. The top 10 of bestselling comic books of 2014 in one of Russia’s largest comic books store, “Chuk I Geek”, mostly includes works from three American publishers: DC, Image, and Dark Horse. Ivan Chernyavskiy, the co-owner of Chuk I Geek, comments on these ratings: “The Russian audience is a model of the world’s audience and superheroes are very popular all over the world. However, the truth is that here in Russia the circulation of comic books is 100-200 times lower, and “the freshest” issues come out two or three years behind schedule – but on the whole the situation corresponds to the one in the world. My partner, Vasily Shevchenko, has suggested a theory that the Russian reader is stuck in 2008. It’s seldom that our readers ask us to order anything that appeared later. I have an explanation for this; at roughly the same time the popular website SpiderMedia.ru worked out the rating of “the 100 Most Recommended Comics”.[1] There’s a joke that Russian publishers still use this list when buying the rights to foreign comics. Of course, many publishers release both alternative and underground comics, but to afford this, they also publish some blockbuster comics, which serve as “a commercial locomotive”.

Vitaliy Terletskiy, the creative director of Komilfo Publishing House – which was awarded with the title for best publisher of 2014 by the readers and experts of comicsboom.net – considers that the popularity of American comics is caused by their “format and the success of the screen adaptations”. Komilfo owns the rights to Russia’s best-selling series of comics of 2014, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As to the monthly ranking for comic books sales of 2015, the Russian publisher Bubble is the largest Russian publisher of original comics. Ivan Chernyavskiy notes that Bubble practically has no competitors in this format, and one of the most important advantages of their comics is the affordable price: “Their target audience consists of people who have never read comics before and for many of them those comic books have become an epiphany”.

Since 2012, Bubble has published four monthly comic books about Russian superheroes: Besoboy, Major Grom, Inok, and Red Furia; other series were published after this. The superhero Besoboy (‘Demonslayer’ is his English nickname) is a Russian soldier named Danila. His entire family perished at the hand of demons during the South Ossetia military conflict and in the comic, the Magicians’ Union endows him with  superhuman strength to enable him to fight these demons. Major Grom doesn’t have any superpowers, but he’s a master of various fighting techniques, a man of great knowledge and intelligence: Sherlock Holmes and James Bond all rolled into one. He’s a dutiful policeman who applies himself to the job. Inok (‘Friar’ is his English nickname) travels through time and takes part in the largest battles in Russian history, protecting his motherland in the way that his forefathers did (‘Inok’ means orthodox monk). Red Fury is the nickname of professional thief Nika Chaikina. In the story, she is recruited by a Secret Service organization and incorporated into an international group of intelligence agents. Her mission is to find the Holy Grail, which had been hidden by Hitler. Chaikina’s enemies, a Neo-Nazi group, are trying to get the Holy Grail first.

DemonslayerMajor Grom

Examples of Russian superheroes: Demonslayer, Major Grom and Red Fury. Used with permission of Bubble Publishing House.

Examples of Russian superheroes: Demonslayer, Major Grom, and Red Fury. Used with permission of Bubble Publishing House.

The head editor of Bubble Publishing House Artyom Gabrelyanov explains: “In our comics there are no superheroes in the purest sense of the word: there’s no one who can fly through the air and shoot lasers from their eyes”. With regard to the fact that their comics are often compared to American series, Artyom comments that they have adopted a few techniques from American colleagues: the principle of a more “intensive” and dynamic form of comic panelling, which Artyom connects to work published by Image Comics. Extraordinary drawing styles and originality of plots are what Artyom refers to as the publishing house’s sufficient achievements. Artyom thinks that the reason behind their characters’ popularity is that “they’re congenial to our readers’ way of thinking, they’re interesting from the standpoint of a plot, and finally, they’re just beautifully drawn!” In October 2015, Bubble was the first Russian publisher that published their works in English at the digital comic platform “Comixology”.

“Treasures of the world’s cultures”

Zangavar Publishing House, which republishes the classics of the 20th century comics like Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, helped Russian readers to fill up the existing cultural gap. In 2009, when the publishing house was founded, the comic book market in Russia was, according to the art-director Vladimir Morozov, “in its nascent stage”. Morozov explains: “It was important for us to lead Russian readers to an understanding of the fact that the medium of comics is very interesting, that there are a great many comics which are treasures of the world’s cultures. It was important to translate those editions into Russian to enable a greater number of people to become familiar with the medium. For the most part, our successful publication of the many-volumed Moomin by Tove Jansson, meant that many people discovered a huge potential of comics as an interesting, serious medium”. The first book published by Zangavar was the Russian edition of Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay.

This year the publishing house has issued, amongst other things, legendary comics such as Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson and Sharaz-de by Sergio Toppi. Sharaz-de was published by Zangavar Cobalt, an imprint of the publisher that was created this year and that publishes “graphic stories for sophisticated readers”. The next book of the imprint will be Le Garage hermétique (The Airtight Garage) by Moebius, whose works have never been published in Russia before.

“The manga boom has ended”

The interest towards manga in Russia arose after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The R.An.Ma (Russian Anime and Manga Association) appeared in Moscow in 1996. Later, otaku [2] groups emerged in practically every Russian city. The popularity of manga in Russia is indicated by the fact that in 2012 Russia ranked second after Japan in quantity of works sent to the Manga Kingdom Tottori International Comic Art Contest.

Anatoly Dunaev, the director of Alt Graph Publishing House – which publishes Japanese manga and Korean manhwa – thinks that the manga boom has ended. He suspects that over the next few years manga will not be able to match American comics in popularity. He cites statistics that “in 2011 in Russia up to 20 volumes of manga were published in an average monthly print run of 10 000 copies, but in 2015 this was reduced to only 3-5 volumes in a print run taking less than 4 000 copies a month”. The anti-war manga Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa, published by Alt Graph, received the award for best manga 2014 by the website comicsboom.net.[3] Alt Graph concerns itself mostly with publishing Russian auteur comics – comics that are initiated by artists, rather than being commissioned – “which attract quite a steady public interest.” “The commercial locomotive” for Alt Graph is the manhwa The Breaker, but all in all the circulations of manga and Russian auteur comics have become practically equal.

“We’re at the start of the journey”

Vladimir Morozov (Zangavar Publishing House) singles out two key stages of Russian comic artists’ development. The first one falls to the late 80s and early 90s, when enthusiasts from Moscow and Leningrad – “the old guard of comic artists” – started to create comic strips. The second development stage is the period of the last three years. During this period Bubble has been recruiting young comic artists who draw high-quality comics, successfully pursuing the western scheme by publishing inexpensive singles on a regular basis. Bubble thus plays a significant role in the industry. Besides, over the last two years, quite a number of specialized comic books stores have opened all over the country. These stores help all Russian comic books publishing houses reach their audience.

In 2011 the St. Petersburg artists Vladimir “Piterskiy punk” Lopatin and Ilya Obukhov founded a creative association “Live Bubbles”, which publishes the work of comic artists. Here is what Ilya Obukhov says about the issues with Russian comics: “The main problem for many people in many countries is lack of faith in the domestic product. Russia is not an exception. It is not a secret that, for instance, in our country people know how to make movies better than film directors do. To say nothing of how to play football, pave the road with asphalt, and, to top it all, how to run the country. And of course, many Russian comic fans know how to make a better, cooler comic. This “knowledge” sometimes causes their impartial attitude towards a Russian work. It might seem funny and cause lots of arguments, but I can see no other reason why foreign auteur comics published in Russia attract more readers because of their foreign status”. Ilya also adds that “Live Bubbles” was not intended to be a business project, it is their hobby. The creative association is self-supporting – published projects provide funds for the next ones.

Vitaliy Terletskiy (Komilfo) states that because of the small demand of publish Russian comics it is not as profitable as publishing foreign issues. Anatoly Dunaev (Alt Graph) adds that small print runs of Russian auteur comics make it unaffordable for the publishers to pay a decent honorarium to the authors, and the authors, in turn, don’t have enough time for drawing comics. Vladimir Morozov (Zangavar) suggests that “we arm ourselves with patience and observe the developing situation. Over the last five years it has changed a great deal. Who knows what print runs Russian comics will have in five years? The Russian comic book market has not been around for that long. We’re at the start of the journey”.

Ivan Chernyavskiy (Chuk I Geek) also looks optimistically to the future of comics in Russia: “Superheroes remain the favorite genre mainly because there are still gaps in Russian readers’ cultural education to fill. At the moment, readers are in the process of filling in those gaps. But nowadays readers have a wide choice and in a couple of years we’ll be able to see positive consequences of this fact”.

Maria Evdokimova is from Omsk, Russia and works in public relations. From 2006-2008 she worked at the publishing house Green Cat, which published series by Sergio Bonelli Editore. In 2007 she prepared the exhibition “Comics in Russia: yesterday, today, tomorrow” in her hometown. At the moment she is working with the Russian comic author Ivan Eshukov. Email: evdokimovamasha1@gmail.com

[1] “100 Most Recommended Comics” is a list of American comics recommended by the creators of the list – who are the “sophisticated comic geeks from all over the former USSR” – to everyone who “takes an interest in comics but doesn’t know where to start”. Furthermore, the creators explain that “it’s for historical reasons that the main genre in American comics is superheroes – as a result, half the list this or that way relates to superheroes… Of course, one hundred positions were unable to cover all significant works. It was decided to leave out manga – it should be left to some other connoisseurs. The presence of European and underground comics is also negligible.” http://spidermedia.ru/mustread

[2] Otaku: an anime and manga fan

[3] The head editor of Alt Graph states: “Barefoot Gen was published in more than 20 languages, which became possible due to “Project Gen”: a group of volunteers who came together to familiarize as many people as possible with Keiji Nakazawa’s works, translating his books into different languages. In the mid-1990s the members of “Project Gen” started translating Barefoot Gen into Russian. In 1995, Japan Today Publishing House, with the assistance of “Project Gen”, published the first volume of Barefoot Gen. However, after the third volume had appeared the publication of manga in Russia stopped because of financial difficulties. What our edition and the edition of 1995 have in common is Keiji Nakazawa’s original art work; the rest, from paper quality and publication format to translation and design, is substantially different. The thing is that now our technical capacity and experience of manga-making is much more improved comparing to what “Project Gen” had at their disposal in the mid-1990s.” The first volume of the manga was published by Alt Graph in 2013, the second and the third in 2014, the year that the readers and the jury of the website comicsboom.net acknowledged Barefoot Gen as the best manga and awarded it the KomiksBoom’s first prize. The fourth volume of the manga appeared in 2015.

 
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Posted by on 2015/12/17 in Guest Writers

 

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