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Who is Charlie Chan Hock Chye?

Verisimilitude and (The Act of) Reading

by Yiru Lim

 

Figure 1

Figure 1

Source: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, p. 307. Copyright © 2015 by Sonny Liew. Published in Singapore by Epigram Books http://www.epigrambooks.sg

Singapore’s official version of history is primarily enshrined in the memoirs of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister. Titled The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, the memoirs were originally published in two volumes in 1998 and 2000 and a memorial edition was released by Marshall Cavendish in 2015, the year of Mr Lee’s passing. Revisionist accounts that stand in opposition to this seminal publication attempt to fill what they see as a void in Singapore’s history: the voice of the opposition, especially in the narratives concerning nation building and independence. They exist in a myriad of forms and genres—film, scholarly publications, prose, poetry—and they seek to debunk existing narratives and proffer more balanced perspectives of history.

Some recent examples include academic publications like Comet in Our Sky (2015), that speaks of the alleged communist Lim Chin Siong and his role in securing Singapore’s independence; Tan Pin Pin’s documentary film To Singapore, With Love (2013); Jeremy Tiang’s State of Emergency: A Novel (2017); and Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (2015). Tan’s film has been banned from being screened in Singapore while the latter two have had their grants revoked by the National Arts Council of Singapore (NAC) (Ho, 2017, Today Online 2015 & 2014). Although Liew’s graphic novel did not receive government approval, it has taken the literary world by storm. It became the first graphic novel to win the Singapore Literature Prize in 2016 and has garnered Liew six Eisner nominations and three Eisner Awards this year (Martin, 2017).

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CfP: Graphic Realities: Comics as Documentary, History, and Journalism

Graphic Realities: Comics as Documentary, History, and Journalism

International Conference

22.-23.02.2018, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen/GCSC

While comics have traditionally been associated with fictional, especially funny and/or fantastic stories, they have in recent decades become a major vehicle for nonfiction, as well. This development coincides with a time that has been described as ‘post-truth’, in which established news media face a crisis of confidence. The turn towards comics is a turn towards a medium, which inherently promotes simplification and exaggeration. Cartoon imagery thus immediately exhibits the subjectivity of the artist and her or his interpretation – but what could be considered a hindrance towards factual reporting has become an important resource. The overt display of subjectivity and medial limitations as a show of honesty has been described as an authentication strategy of graphic nonfiction. In contrast to formats based on camera-recorded images like photography and film nonfiction comics cannot lay claim to indexing premedial reality. Rather, individual graphic styles index their own creator who as witness becomes the main authenticator. Thus, comics shift the weight of authentication from medial prerequisites towards their authors and artists and thus the textual properties referencing them. One of the questions that will be discussed at the conference is thus the relation of inherent medial properties of comics as vehicle for nonfiction. While among graphic nonfiction life

While among graphic nonfiction life writing in particular has received widespread scholarly attention, this conference will focus on recent approaches to comics as documentary, history, and journalism. As opposed to graphic memoirs in which authors reflect upon their own lives and experiences, these works focus on the lives and experiences of others. Thus, authors and artists need to do justice towards their subjects, as well as to their own experience and negotiate their own voices within their stories. This becomes especially relevant as a majority of graphic reportages centers around highly traumatizing crises and catastrophes, such as war, displacement, natural disasters, and oppression. The conference is intended to explore how authors and artists utilize the medium of comics for nonfiction and address these ‘graphic realities’.

Invited Speakers:
 Prof. Dr. Jörn Ahrens (Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen)
 Dr. Nina Mickwitz (University of the Arts London)
 Prof. Dr. Dirk Vanderbeke (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena)
 Prof. Dr. Wibke Weber (Züricher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften
Winterthur)

Submission for talks should address one or more of the following questions:
 How is the medium of comics employed for reportage, history writing, and to report
on war, crises, and trauma?
 Which narrative and aesthetic strategies do authors and artists employ to present and
authenticate their comics as nonfiction?
 How do the genres of ‘documentary’, ‘history’, and ‘journalism’ in comics relate to
each other and how do they relate to other genres of graphic nonfiction such as ‘lifewriting’ or educational formats?
 Does the medium of comics inherently support nonfictionality, or does it depend on con- and paratexual framing practices?
 How do different ‘transfer media’ such as comic books or webcomics affect the
potential of comics for factual reporting?
 How and to what extent is nonfictionality created through intermediality, especially
with regard to more conventionally ‘factual’ media such as photography and film?
 In how far do different comics traditions differ transnationally and -culturally with
regard to their status as nonfiction?

Please submit your proposals (no longer than 300 words) for talks (20 min) and a short CV including your affiliation to graphicrealities@gcsc.uni-giessen.de until November 3rd, 2017.

The conference is organized as collaboration between the International Centre for the Study of Culture Giessen (GCSC) and the Comics Studies Working Group (AG Comicforschung) of the German Society for Media Studies (GfM) by Laura Schlichting (Justus-Liebig-University Giessen) and Johannes C. P. Schmid (University of Hamburg).

A membership in the Comics Studies Working Group is not mandatory for participation.

 
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Posted by on 2017/09/04 in ComFor Updates, General, News

 

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Manga Studies #8: Shōjo Manga History: The Obscured Decades by Dalma Kálovics

Previously on Comics Forum, Monden Masafumi shed light on the fact that Japanese shōjo manga discourse tends to prioritize a gender-related perspective, disregarding the majority of graphic narratives which do not fit a subversive reading of the genre, or even dismissing them for their allegedly conservative representation of femininity. But this is not the only one-sided approach to shōjo manga, there is also a historical bias at play. Shōjo manga of the 1970s, notably works by the so-called Magnificent 49ers (see below), have been the main focus of discussion, overshadowing other eras, both before and after. In the following overview, I will outline how the 70s and especially the 49ers ended up as the center of attention, how this favoritism has obscured other periods, and finally how views on shōjo manga history are beginning to change.

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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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Manga Studies #6: Takeuchi Osamu and Manga Expression pt. 2: The Historiographic Basis of Manga Formalism by Nicholas Theisen

In part one, I showed how the manga artist Tezuka Osamu and his body of work function as more than a mere object of analysis within manga studies but as a totalizing discourse upon which a number of larger critical concerns are projected. This has the rather odd effect of rendering “Tezuka” a milieu which can absorb even those critiques which seek to overcome a Tezuka-centric purview as to what manga might be in both historical and formal terms. I used the critical writings of Takeuchi Osamu not to evaluate them as such but to demonstrate the discursive mechanics of this totalizing absorption. In part two below, I will once again use Takeuchi’s critical oeuvre to examine, in addition to how the critic’s own personal predilections can become subsumed into seemingly objective claims, the assumptions underlying manga formalism: how manga fit with other media, how manga is understood as children’s literature, and how manga is treated as, if not entirely presumed to be, a predominantly postwar phenomenon.

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Posted by on 2015/01/09 in Guest Writers, Manga Studies

 

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