(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.