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Bangladeshi Women Creating Comics

by Sarah McNicol

Comics are, of course, found in many cultures, from Japanese manga and Chinese manhua to South and Central American historietas, and Filipino komiks that draw on traditional folklore as well as elements of mainstream US comics. Moreover, it has been argued that comic books “have always been attuned to the experiences of immigrant Others” (Davis-McElligatt, 2010: 137). Graphic narratives have long played a crucial role in representing and constructing immigrant subjects and the immigrant experience. Today, several of the most widely known graphic novels address issues of migration including Chris Ware’s (2001) Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel (2007) The Arrival. The latter is often said to depict a universal story of migration, telling “not an immigrant’s story, but the immigrant’s story” (Yang, 2007). Nevertheless, it is explicitly the story of a man’s migration as he leaves his wife and daughter behind to make a better life in a new land. At the end of his struggles, the man reunites with his family who, it would appear, settle seamlessly into their new life without experiencing any of the hardships he has endured. Discussing literature more broadly, Pavlenko (2001: 220) argues, “immigrant women’s stories were continuously ignored by the literary establishment” despite the fact that female migrant life writing often explores different themes from those of traditional male autobiographies.

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Conference Review: The International Bande Dessinée Society’s Seventh International Conference by Matthew Screech

The Joint International Conference of Graphic Novels, Comics and the International Bande Dessinée Society’s Seventh International Conference

July 5-8 2011

Manchester Metropolitan University

The bande dessinée part of the joint conference took up the baton after two very stimulating days with GNAC and SIC. We too were pleased by the quantity and quality of papers and we ran parallel sessions. The morning of 7th July began with panels comprising two distinct strands: bandes dessinées and Francophone Africa, and BDs drawing upon the European Classics. The first strand began with Laurike in’t Veld’s insights into how the Rwandan genocide was represented in comics, and continued with Michel Bumatay’s study of Sub-Saharan African Francophone BDs. The focus on Africa continued with Mark Mckinney, who drew upon (post) colonial strips to argue that autobiography began in BDs earlier than is generally recognised. This was followed by Cathal Kilcline’s analysis of Boudjellal, who depicts an immigrant family in Toulon. The European Classics strand began with papers by Linda Rabea-Heyden and Matthew Screech on comic strip adaptations of canonical literary works: Goethe’s Faust and Voltaire’s Candide. Next came a re-examination of bande dessinée Classics with Bart Beaty, who closely scrutinised panels from Bravo’s re-make of the best-selling hero Spirou. Another strip to enter the pantheon of classics, Lieutenant Blueberry, was discussed by Martha Zan, who established its similarities with ss.

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