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Symposium Report for “Drawing Gender: Women and French-language Comics”

by Morgan Podraza

French Comics Poster

During the weekend of 28–29 February 2020, scholars from France, Belgium, the United States and the United Kingdom came together for “Drawing Gender: Women and French-language Comics,” a symposium presented and sponsored by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in partnership with the Department of French and Italian at the Ohio State University. Framed by the events surrounding the 2016 Angoulême International Comics Festival in which the nominations for the Grand Prix included all men and happening in coordination with the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum’s exhibit “Ladies First: A Century of Women’s Innovations in Comics and Cartoon Art,” the symposium was dedicated to the representation of and contributions by women in comics within the Francophone world. Thus, central discussions during the symposium were concerned with not only bringing the work of women to the foreground but also calling attention to the ways that women’s experiences and identities are conveyed through such work. Importantly, these conversations also highlighted and engaged with artists and works that expanded beyond the boundaries of any one identity—including a range of languages; nationalities; sexual and gender identities; and social and cultural backgrounds—in order to further emphasize the incredible contributions of creators who have not been historically canonized.

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Australian Comics Symposium at PCAF (Perth Comic Arts Festival)

by Stuart Medley

 

PCAF A4 poster by Soolagna MajumdarArt by Soolagna Majumdar

 

The Australian Comics Symposium was a one-day conference held at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, on Friday 29 June 2018, as part of the inaugural Perth Comic Arts Festival (29-30 June 2018).

 

This event was the first comics-focused festival in Western Australia. For many years Perth has been on the annual circuit of two major Australian pop culture events: Supanova and Oz Comic-Con. Both events have provided paid-for opportunities for local comics makers to show their portfolios and sell comics and comics-related art. However, both have a modus operandi similar to San Diego Comic-Con, in that they feature TV and film celebrity appearances and foreground the sale of pop culture merchandise. It was a stated aim of the PCAF organisers to have the focus on comics and to see what appetite there was in Perth for such an event. The inaugural PCAF was a big success with most of the visiting artists and scholars declaring it the best comics event they had been to in Australia. The market day attracted hundreds of visitors. Vendors all reported having done more business than at the big pop culture conventions. PCAF was covered by the national broadcaster (ABC) on its television news and reported in the state newspaper, The West Australian.

 

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A report on the BCCS Comics Day and Tea Party by Paul Fisher Davies

The British Consortium of Comics Scholars emerged from an initially nameless reading group founded in 2012, in which a group of scholars in the South-East, mostly engaged in part-time PhD studies, gathered to discuss graphic narrative theory every few weeks, circulating venues between Brighton University, Sussex University and Central St Martins. What we shared was an interest in the practical nature of comics creation, its station in the world of discourse; and most of us were pursuing practice-based PhDs, or we ourselves created comics as well as being scholars of the medium.

Nicola Streeten was a key driver in moving forward this first BCCS symposium, which sought to celebrate those two strands of our interests — scholarship and creation of comics — by structuring a day, Saturday 30 May 2015, which would progress from research-led in the morning, through to creator-led in the later afternoon, and which would bring together comics scholars and creators, as well as being open to interested members of the public. All attendees were encouraged to draw (and write, and photograph) their notes and reactions to the day, and pages were left blank in the programmes for this very purpose.

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The International Bande Dessinée Society: February 2015 by Lisa Tannahill and Chris O’Neill

Welcome to the second edition of the International Bande Dessinée Society column, a look back at developments in the world of bande dessinée (francophone comics) scholarship and research.

No retrospective examination of the year in bande dessinée can overlook the tragic events of January 2015: the shooting at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The events and their ramifications have been discussed endlessly in the press, and discussion of the political or wider global effects of the attack is far beyond the remit of this column. However, the deaths of Stéphane Charbonnier (Charb), Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (Cabu), Bernard Verlhac (Tignous) and Philippe Honoré represent a huge loss for not only Charlie Hebdo but the wider world of bande dessinée. Several of them were key figures in the development of post-war bande dessinée and wider visual culture in France. For example, Cabu and Wolinski’s work appeared in Charlie Hebdo from its beginnings in 1969 as well as its predecessor Hara-Kiri. Cabu and Charb, along with economist Bernard Maris, who was also killed, were instrumental in the resurrection of Charlie Hebdo in 1992 (publication had ceased in 1981). It is this incarnation which continues to the present day. Charlie Hebdo represents a particularly French tradition of satirical cartooning which lost many of its most important figures in the attacks. If you would like to know more about Charlie Hebdo and its place in French culture, Berghahn has published an informative blog post by Mark McKinney (University of Miami, Ohio) at their site, as well as making available two articles from European Comic Art: a history of the journal and its politics, as well as an interview with Cabu.

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The International Bande Dessinée Society: February 2014 by Lisa Tannahill and Chris O’Neill

The International Bande Dessinée Society (IBDS) was founded in 1999, aiming to encourage scholarly discussion of the French-language comic or bande dessinée, in all its forms. Their journal, European Comic Art, (ECA), is published twice-yearly, with previous issues focusing on national identity, caricature, narration, 19th-century comic art, adaptation and other diverse themes in the European comic medium. IBDS conferences have taken place bi-annually since 1999; the most recent conference was held at the Universities of Glasgow and Dundee in June 2013.

However, English-language bande dessinée scholarship is still in relative infancy, and French-language works are seldom translated. The purpose of this new, twice-yearly column is to draw attention to both recent English-language work on bande dessinée and francophone scholarship which may otherwise go unnoticed in anglophone countries. We do not aim to cover all relevant work; the popularity of bande dessinée in the francophone world means many books on the subject are published every year. Instead we will highlight a selection of the most notable or interesting works which appear throughout the year. In this first edition we will look back at books published in 2013.

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