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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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The International Bande Dessinée Society: February 2014 by Lisa Tannahill and Chris O’Neill

The International Bande Dessinée Society (IBDS) was founded in 1999, aiming to encourage scholarly discussion of the French-language comic or bande dessinée, in all its forms. Their journal, European Comic Art, (ECA), is published twice-yearly, with previous issues focusing on national identity, caricature, narration, 19th-century comic art, adaptation and other diverse themes in the European comic medium. IBDS conferences have taken place bi-annually since 1999; the most recent conference was held at the Universities of Glasgow and Dundee in June 2013.

However, English-language bande dessinée scholarship is still in relative infancy, and French-language works are seldom translated. The purpose of this new, twice-yearly column is to draw attention to both recent English-language work on bande dessinée and francophone scholarship which may otherwise go unnoticed in anglophone countries. We do not aim to cover all relevant work; the popularity of bande dessinée in the francophone world means many books on the subject are published every year. Instead we will highlight a selection of the most notable or interesting works which appear throughout the year. In this first edition we will look back at books published in 2013.

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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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