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Conference Report: International Conference “Tintin au XXIe siècle” [Tintin In The 21st Century]

17 – 20 May 2017 – Louvain-la-Neuve – Musée Hergé – Collège Érasme, Université Catholique de Louvain

by Olivier Roche

Translated by Annick Pellegrin

Edited by Lise Tannahill

 

In Europe, the Belgian author Hergé, whose real name was Georges Remi, is considered to be one of the greatest bande dessinée artists of the 20th century, just like Winsor McCay (Little Nemo in Slumberland), Charles Schulz (Peanuts) or Jirō Taniguchi (A Distant Neighborhood). His body of work—mostly The Adventures of Tintin and Quick and Flupke—has become mythical, and the subject of collections, of speculation, of exhibitions, of hundreds of scholarly studies, of thousands of articles and all kinds of artistic and cultural tributes. In France or in Belgium, universities have had a lot of trouble embracing bande dessinée. However, in the last few years, there has been a notable and growing interest for the ninth art, and in particular for Hergé’s work, in higher education and research. From 17 to 20 May 2017, an international conference was held in Louvain-la-Neuve, at Université catholique de Louvain and at Musée Hergé [Hergé Museum], to mark Hergé’s 110th birthday. The conference, organised by a scientific committee representing six universities in Belgium, France and Switzerland, brought together 20 speakers from 8 countries over 4 days, a first, and it was a great success.
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Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus

Tightrope Walker During the Occupation – Part 4/4[1]

by Antoine Sausverd

Translated by Annick Pellegrin

Edited by Harriet Earle

Original publication: Sausverd, Antoine. « Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus : Funambule sous l’occupation. » La Crypte tonique septembre – octobre 2013: 13-18. Print.[2]

Condemnation in absentia

Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus by Daix came to an end on 17 August 1944 with Le Matin that fell apart in the besieged capital.[3]

Daix went into hiding and fled from Paris. His residence was searched. An arrest warrant was issued against him on 12 July 1945 for acts prejudicial to the security of the State. Daix, not having been apprehended, was judged in absentia at the court of justice of the Seine department on 8 January 1946. The exposé that led to this condemnation summarised the charges: Daix was a “collaborateur notoire” [notorious collaborator]. The tribunal reproached Daix for his denunciation of cartoon animators, and his involvement in 1942 in the “organe pro-allemand” [pro-German organisation] La Voix ouvrière made matters worse for him. But his drawings of Nimbus would be judged as not containing political propaganda.

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Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus:

Tightrope Walker During the Occupation – Part 3/4[1]

by Antoine Sausverd

Translated by Annick Pellegrin

Edited by Harriet Earle

Original publication: Sausverd, Antoine. « Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus : Funambule sous l’occupation. » La Crypte tonique septembre – octobre 2013: 13-18. Print.[2]

“Pour les besoins de la propagande nationale” [For the Sake of National Propaganda]

In the summer of 1942, the Germans asked Daix to use the famous character professeur Nimbus to contribute to a propaganda operation. Daix then used this opportunity to take up his demands against Opera Mundi. On 4 August 1942 he wrote to the president of the Commissariat général aux questions juives [General Commissariat for Jewish Questions] (CGQJ): “Ma création graphique, le « Professeur Nimbus », m’est demandée afin d’être utilisée pour les besoins de la propagande nationale. Malheureusement et malgré mes efforts, je n’ai pu me libérer d’un contrat draconien signé en 1934 avec Opera Mundi (agence juive) et concernant Nimbus.” [My graphic creation, professeur Nimbus, has been requested from me in order to be used for the sake of national propaganda. Unfortunately and despite my efforts, I have not been able to get rid of a draconian contract signed in 1934 with Opera Mundi (Jewish agency) concerning Nimbus.] Daix attached to his mail an overview of the situation and documents, hoping “qu’une intervention de votre organisme me fera obtenir gain de cause.” [that an intervention on the part of your agency would help me to succeed].[3]

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Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus

Tightrope Walker During the Occupation – Part 2/4[1]

by Antoine Sausverd

Translated by Annick Pellegrin

Edited by Harriet Earle

Original publication: Sausverd, Antoine. « Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus : Funambule sous l’occupation. » La Crypte tonique septembre – octobre 2013: 13-18. Print.[2]

Daix, Francist Partisan

To add to his money-related dissensions, the artist had political conceptions. One part of his personality did not show in the drawings that he created for the general press: his ferocious political engagement. Indeed, the artist became a member of the French fascist movement, Francism, shortly after its creation, in September 1933, and he remained a faithful partisan throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

Close to both Mussolini’s Italian fascism and Hitler’s national-socialism, Francism was led by the charismatic Marcel Bucard, a former ultranationalist fighter. His theses were radical: the party attacked Freemasons, Jews (starting from 1936), and Léon Blum, before going after all the capitalists of the US. He is also a self-declared opponent to the parliamentary regime and of the “front socialo-communiste” [social-communist front]. But on the political playground, Francism was mostly isolated and did not have much weight.

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Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus:

Tightrope Walker During the Occupation – Part 1/4

by Antoine Sausverd

Translated by Annick Pellegrin

Edited by Harriet Earle

Original publication: Sausverd, Antoine. « Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus : Funambule sous l’occupation. » La Crypte tonique septembre – octobre 2013: 12-18. Print.[1]

Before World War II broke out, in France Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus were one of the most popular bandes dessinées of the 1930s. The gags of this strip feature an always elegant, glassed scientist, whose distinguishing feature is his sole hair, raised as question mark on his bald head. His absent-mindedness, which is nowadays legendary, was the source of many misadventures that made many readers laugh.

The history of bande dessinée would retain that it was the first French mute newspaper strip. It also marks one of its darkest moments. The German occupation that followed the defeat of 1940 would reshuffle the cards of the game in which professeur Nimbus was at stake. Broadly speaking, we know our history but today, it is possible, thanks to the various sources kept in the national archives,[2] to bring to light the then tumultuous relationships between the different actors at the origins of Les Aventures du professeur Nimbus: the press agency Opera Mundi, the artist André Daix and Le Journal, the first daily to welcome the strip in its pages.

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