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Symposium report: Tradition and Innovation in Franco-Belgian bande dessinée

by Fransiska Louwagie and Simon Lambert

 

On 13 March 2020 the University of Leicester hosted an International Symposium titled “Tradition and Innovation in Franco-Belgian bande dessinée” organised in collaboration with Wallonia-Brussels International. This one-day symposium – for which the progamme can be found here – was organised with generous support from the ASMCF, the Society for French Studies and the School of Arts at the University of Leicester.

The day was opened by Simon Lambert as Academic and Cultural Liaison Officer for Wallonia-Brussels in the UK, in conjunction with Fransiska Louwagie (University of Leicester). Keynote speakers were Professor Laurence Grove from the University of Glasgow and graphic novelist Michel Kichka, who also delivered a public seminar on his work. Across three panels, the day focussed on various forms of tradition and innovation in Franco-Belgian bande dessinée: the first panel was dedicated to “Revisiting the classics”, the second panel to “Contemporary perspectives”, and the final ASMCF panel to “Reshaping Franco-Belgian bande dessinée”. The closing remarks were organised as a roundtable session on collaborative international research projects.

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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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Medieval Comics: Depicting the Middle Ages in European Graphic Novels

by Iain A. MacInnes

Medieval history is very much in vogue at the present time. Driven by representations of the period in various forms of popular culture, there appears to be a great appetite for all things medieval. From television (Vikings, The Name of the Rose, Knightfall) to film (The Green Knight, The King, Outlaw King) to video games (A Plague Tale: Innocence, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Medieval Dynasty), representations of the medieval world are hard to avoid.[1] And that is before we get to the more medieval-influenced forms of media that perhaps drive interest in the medieval even more than apparently “real” representations of the past. Where Game of Thrones led the way, The Witcher is now appealing to a mass global audience.[2] The forthcoming Lord of the Rings television series, films like Nimona and games like Godfall will similarly bring different varieties of medieval aesthetics to modern audiences across the globe.[3]

Another medium, perhaps more niche than the above, is that of the graphic novel. Comics set in both the medieval past and medieval-inspired worlds have gained increasing popularity in recent years, and it can be argued that these are as important as the above examples in terms of influencing modern perceptions and understanding of our medieval past. One potential reason why this is not as well-recognised is that many medieval comics are not available in English. While there do exist prominent examples of English-language medieval comics by noted authors and special releases timed to coincide with historical anniversaries (such as Crécy, Templar, Nevsky: A Hero of the People, On Dangerous Ground: Bannockburn 1314 and Agincourt 1415: A Graphic Novel), this output pales into relative insignificance when compared with that produced in continental Europe.[4] The remainder of this post will therefore consider the range of medieval comics produced for the European market, with a focus on Spain and particularly France. While some broader context for these works is provided, the main focus will be on comics of the last decade to allow consideration of increased interest in the medieval period as reflected in the comic medium.

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Posted by on 2020/04/15 in Guest Writers

 

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Blind Readers and Comics: Reflecting on Comics’ Storytelling from a Different Perspective

by Jakob F. Dittmar

 

Summary

This paper discusses comics for the blind, based on the example of the tactile comic life by Philipp Meyer and Astérix par Touchtatis ! by Olivier Poncer. It looks into the potential and the restrictions of sequential pictorial storytelling that is accessible to blind readers. Special attention is given to the elements of comics narratives and the technical background of tactile text and image representation. Due to the process of giving information in tactile comics, these present an extreme challenge for readers who have been born blind, while readers who have become blind later in life seem to be able to refer the elements of spatially dispersed tactile information representing the visual appearance of environments (images) to their memory of visual information.

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Posted by on 2019/08/04 in Guest Writers

 

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Bande Dessinée: A Physical Culture? MUSCUDERZO!

by Philippe Capart

Translated by Annick Pellegrin

Edited by Lise Tannahill

Original publication: Capart, Philippe. “La Culture de la bande dessinée, une culture physique ? MUSCUDERZO !” TONIQUE avril 2017. Print.[1]

 

 

A School for Unlearning

Bande dessinée gives one the impression of reading without thinking. Like a laxative that transforms the literate person into a savage and the illiterate person into a criminal. After the industrial and methodical pulverisation of millions of people—World War II—Western educators, be they Communist, secular or Christian, agreed on the source of juvenile delinquency: THE ILLUSTRATED PRESS FOR CHILDREN.[2] They worked hand in hand, fighting to control, restrain or ban the series of little figures on paper. For many of those literate men and women, only single-panel illustrations, the statue-like figure firmly attached to its textual pedestal allowed one to preserve the model, the exemplary and the ideal. But a sequence of images was the victory of the trivial over the sacred. Thus, in their eyes, bande dessinée became a manual leading the pseudo-reader to mimic a series of figures. When they were noble actions, no problem, but when they were burlesque exaggerations, violent actions, sex, they were veritable manuals for troublemaking, guides to lust and crime.

“En ce temps, la bédé était un divertissement pour minus !” [At the time, comics were a form of entertainment for wimps!] Morris[3]

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