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Broken Hero(es). The Construction of Masculinity in Enki Bilal’s La Trilogie Nikopol

by Véronique Sina

In France Enki Bilal may be one of the most popular comics artists who specialised in the genre of science fiction during his lifelong career. Since the mid 1970s his work has been characterised by the presentation of bleak visions of the future in which ruthless conglomerates reign and governments as well as ecological systems tend to collapse[1]. Most often the protagonists of these dystopic visions are disillusioned and broken heroes whose adventures Bilal manages to capture with the help of his surrealistic artwork. In the following I would like to focus on one of those broken heroes – namely Alcide Nikopol, the protagonist of Bilal’s comic book series La Trilogie Nikopol (1980-1992) – in order to analyse the construction of masculinity[2] in Bilal’s work by showing how performative discourses of gender and media go hand in hand in La Trilogie Nikopol[3]. In this respect, ‘masculinity’ is understood as a performative concept, i.e. as doing masculinity. As the American gender theorist Judith Butler elaborates

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“Can one still laugh about everything?” by Eszter Szép

A report on the Symposium at the Ohio State University on Charlie Hebdo and the terrorist attacks of January 7th 2015

The Charles Schulz auditorium, just above the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library at the Ohio State University (OSU), served as the venue of a mini-symposium on 19 February 2015 on the attack against Charlie Hebdo. This is a place where comics is in the air, and so is the need for dialogue: as event organizer Jared Gardner, professor at the Department of English & the Film Studies Program, highlighted, the symposium was called into being by the need to have a conversation and to share learned opinions on events that have stirred debates in society, in academia, and in the comics community. Conversation is what makes universities necessary, added Gardner, and it was in this spirit that he invited scholars with different perspectives and backgrounds to discuss the events of January 7th.

The symposium started with a lecture by Mark McKinney, professor of French at Miami University, co-editor of European Comic Art, and author of The Colonial Heritage of French Comics and Redrawing French Empire in Comics. The subsequent roundtable helped us to see the magazine and the terrorist attack as complex cultural phenomena that can be approached and interpreted very differently between disciplines. The participants were Daniele Marx-Scouras, from the Department of French and Italian, OSU; Youssef Yacoubi, from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, OSU; Erik Nisbet, School of Communication, OSU; and Caitlin McGurk, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library.

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On Rewriting Hemingway: Inside Joann Sfar’s Intertextual Web by Fabrice Leroy

Within Joann Sfar’s extremely diverse and prolific comics production, intertextuality constitutes a recurrent device by which an unusually erudite cartoonist weaves in, recycles, and reworks a multitude of literary, philosophical, and pictorial references inside his own whimsical creations. This essay focuses on a micro-sequence from one of Sfar’s early works, his imaginary biography of the Franco-Bulgarian modernist painter Pascin (written between 1997 and 1999, and initially published by L’Association in six short fascicles between 2000 and 2002), in an attempt to explore the various dimensions of Sfar’s habitual borrowing from external sources and integration thereof into his idiosyncratic universe.

A two-page passage of Pascin [1] (181-182) rewrites Ernest Hemingway’s ‘With Pascin at the Dôme,’ the famous description of his encounter with the painter in A Moveable Feast (81-86), Hemingway’s diary account of his experiences as a young expatriate writer in 1920s Paris. Unlike Hemingway’s chronicle of the event, the scene depicted by Sfar is told from Pascin’s point of view, and the extent to which Sfar takes liberties with the intertextual material and reverses not only its perspective, but also the portrayal of the two protagonists, is striking. Contrary to Hemingway’s account, in which Pascin waves to invite him to his table [2], in this version, it is Hemingway who initiates the encounter and intrudes upon the scene, as he ‘stops by to say hello’ to the painter, who is having drinks with two beautiful models at the Café du Dôme, a frequent Montparnasse hangout for 1920s bohemian artists who often referred to themselves as ‘Les Dômiers.’ The young American writer, initially anonymous, then identified parenthetically as Ernest Hemingway, is presented as a sweaty, overweight man with red ears and a mustache, a far cry from the ‘tall, handsome, muscular, broad-shouldered, brown-eyed, rosy-cheeked, square-jawed, soft-voiced young man’ described by his biographer Jeffrey Meyers (Meyers 70). In a sequence of four frames, Sfar summarizes the interaction among Hemingway, Pascin, and the two models in a manner that efficiently synthesizes the writer’s original account, but also distorts it considerably.

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Posted by on 2013/02/28 in Guest Writers

 

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Beaucoup de Femmes, Un Artiste: Focalization Cues in the Graphic Novels of Bastien Vivès by Gwen Athene Tarbox

 
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Posted by on 2013/02/08 in Guest Writers, Women

 

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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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