(Geste hypergraphique by Roberto Altmann, 1967)
by Antoine Sausverd
Translated by Annick Pellegrin
Edited by Lise Tannahill
Original publication: Sausverd, Antoine. “« À mort les bandes dessinées ! Vive l’hypergraphie ! » (Geste hypergraphique de Roberto Altmann, 1967)” TONIQUE avril 2017. Print.
For bande dessinée, the year 1967 seemed to favour formal and aesthetic experiments. After Les Aventures de Jodelle (1966), Pravda la survireuse appeared in the pages of the monthly Hara-Kiri from January to December, before being published in album format in 1968. The stylisation of shapes and the uniform solid colours were openly inspired from the pop art aesthetic. Similar to the exquisite corpse, Saga de Xam by Nicolas Devil was an epic work that bore the marks of the counter cultures of its time: from chapter to chapter, the work alternated between various graphic styles, challenging established page layout norms. The texts were written in three alphabets, two of which were invented and undecipherable, unless one consulted a correspondence table at the end of the work. Finally, the same year saw the release of the first situationist comics: posters and tracts reproduced bandes dessinées and replaced the content of the speech bubbles with excerpts of revolutionary political theories advocated by the Situationist International, that would play a significant role in triggering May 1968. It was also in 1967 that Geste hypergraphique, a strange album just as original as the previous ones, was published in Liechtenstein. Completely unnoticed at the time and still largely unknown to date, this “hypergraphique narration en 15 chants” [hypergraphic narration in 15 songs] was the work of a young Cuban aged 25, Roberto Altmann, who was at that point part of the lettrist group.
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Tags: bande dessinée, Charlier, Cuba, Franco-Belgian Comics, Goscinny, Guy Peellaert, Hara-Kiri, Hypergraphics, Hypergraphy, Isidore Isou, Jacques Spacagna, Lettrism, Lettrist Movement, Liechtenstein, Maurice Lemaître, Maurice Rosy, May 68, Metagraphics, Morris, Nicolas Devil, Pascal Thomas, Pierre Bartier, Pop Art, Roberto Altmann, Saul Steinberg, Situationism, Spirou, Translations, Yvan Delporte
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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Tags: Angouleme, Ann Miller, bande dessinée, Bart Beaty, Bastien Vivès, Benoît Peeters, Bernard Maris, Cabu, Charb, Charlie Hebdo, Chris Ware, Christian Maucler, David B., Dominique Cerbelaud, Enem, European Comic Art, Fabrice Leroy, France, Francis Lacassin, Georges Wolinski, German occupation of France, Hara-Kiri, Hergé, History, Jan Baetens, Jewish identity, Joann Sfar, Katsuhiro Otomo, Mark McKinney, memory, newspaper strips, Olivier Roche, Pascal Lefèvre, Philippe Honoré, Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle, Ralph Soupault, Riad Sattouf, Rodolphe Töpffer, Salon des Ouvrages sur la Bande Dessinée, satirical cartooning, The Adventures of Tintin, Thierry Crépin, Thierry Groensteen, Tignous, Tintin, Vichy, Vincent Pompetti, WWII