Category Archives: Comics Forum 2010

Sketching in Lectures: An Interview with Mel Gibson by Ian Hague

Dr Mel Gibson is a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University. She is also the creator of Dr Mel Comics, a website which supports librarians and teachers in developing graphic novel and manga collections and offers resources and links for those researching comics. She has been an invaluable asset to the development of Comics Forum since its inception in 2009, generously offering both sponsorship and expertise that have enabled the annual conference series to go ahead.

On the 20th of November 2011 she took some time out of the Thought Bubble Convention in Leeds to talk to me about her experiences using comics in the UK education sector, particularly as tools for assessment.

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Comics Forum Online: Year One Review and Comics Forum 2012 Call for Papers

One year ago today, launched with this introductory post. Today I’m pleased to present a look back at the past year of articles by major comics scholars from around the world, and a look ahead to what’s coming next for Comics Forum, including our annual conference.

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The Two Glorious Years of Ah! Nana by Trina Robbins

Some time in 1976 I received a phone call from a Frenchman in the comics industry, who lived in New York and was somehow connected to various comics venues.[1] He told me that a new magazine was being published in France, featuring women cartoonists, and that he could get me into the publication by acting as my agent and taking a percentage of my pay. That was fine with me, until shortly after that I received a letter from Jean Pierre Dionet, inviting me to contribute to the magazine, which I now learned was to be called Ah! Nana, a pun on the word for pineapple and French slang for girl. Needless to say, I never had to pay the French guy a thing, and it was pretty sleazy of him to even try to make money off me.

From the first issue, I was thrilled to be one of a handful of American women [2] included along with a galaxy of brilliant European women cartoonists. My God, I was being published in France! I had really arrived!

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Ah! Nana: The Forgotten French Feminist Comics Magazine by Catriona MacLeod

The process of female integration into French-language comic strip (or bande dessinée) creation in the twentieth century was slow, with women linked to this domain much more likely to inhabit the role of illustrator for children’s books. In the late 1970s, however, as Claire Bretécher and Annie Goetzinger made their mark as pioneering but exceptional female creators in the Francophone medium, a new publication appeared with the potential to expedite the slow inclusion of women artists into the bande dessinée by providing an unprecedented vehicle both for semi-established and previously unpublished female creators to present their work. The journal Ah! Nana did not fulfil this potential, however, and after falling foul of strict censorship laws and the restrictive economic sanctions that accompanied them, folded after only nine issues.

Ah! Nana was certainly short-lived, producing its first issue in October 1976 and its last in September 1978, however, as the only journal in French history created entirely by women featuring regular bandes dessinées – although male artists were occasionally invited to contribute – it constitutes an innovative experiment in the development of the adult Francophone BD. In spite of this, it has, like so many other female-led artistic endeavours, been largely ignored in chronologies and encyclopaedias of the Francophone medium. Patrick Gaumer’s 2004 Larousse de la BD does not mention it at all, whilst the 2003 BD Guide devotes one short paragraph of its 1525 pages to the journal, simply noting its creation by women, the name of its editor Janique Dionnet [1], and the fact that it was eventually censored.

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The Joy and the Burden of the Comics Artist: The role of boredom in the production of comics by Greice Schneider

There is something very intriguing in the high incidence of comics about cartoonists whining about the struggle of their métier, especially in the realm of alternative comics, in which the combination of autobiography and a tendency towards a depressive mood has been setting the tone in the last decades. In fact, the idea that many ‘alternative comics’ feature stories in which ‘autobiography would be the mode’ while ‘neurosis and alienation the dominant tone’ (Leith) is so well spread that it has become almost a genre in itself. It is not a coincidence that these two elements appear together, though. There is a connection between the subject (the routine of making comics) and the mood it awakens (most of the time, self-deprecating, depressing) that is directly related to the tricky dynamics of boredom and interest in the creative process: making comics appears both as the escape from boredom and the source of it. Although the role played by boredom and melancholy has been addressed in many arts, there seems to be something special with comics, given the high number of artists that bring up this topic in their work, such as Lewis Trondheim, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes or Ivan Brunetti.

Cartooning Will Destroy You

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