International Journal of Comic Art blog

News about the premier academic journal devoted to all aspects of cartooning and comics -- the International Journal of Comic Art (ISSN 1531-6793) published and edited by John Lent.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

ANIMA: The Brussels Animation Film Festival 2020


The annual Brussels Animation Film Festival, officially known as ANIMA, takes place this year over the last two weekends of February, timed perfectly with the Carnival school holidays. Offering a wide range of national and international all-ages programming, ANIMA will screen 300 films over 10 days at the Flagey Cultural Centre and the Palace movie theatre. The festival also devotes a bulk of its resources to engaging with young children through interactive installations, exhibitions and animation workshops. This appeal toward pre-school and elementary school kids is telegraphed by the poster for this year’s festival which features a cameo by Petit Poilu, the popular character of a BD series of pantomime comics drawn by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Bailly.

The poster for ANIMA 2020 by Pierre Bailly. Petit Poilu is the character in the left-center of audience with the black face and red nose.
The opening event for ANIMA 2020 was the screening of L’extraordinaire voyage de Marona, which had debuted at several animation festivals at the end of 2019 but was now making its Belgian premiere.


The most striking aspect of the film from a comics perspective is the aesthetic of the animation itself. Belgian comics artist Brecht Evens served as the graphic consultant for the film, responsible for establishing the visual style and character design. Both Brecht Evens and director Anca Damian were present at the opening event to present their film.  

Director Anca Damian (centre) and Brecht Evens (right) at the ANIMA kickoff event. 

Director Anca Damian (right) and Brecht Evens (centre) at the ANIMA kickoff event.
Brecht Evens spoke about how he was brought on board the project via the persistence of director Anca Damian, who sought him out immediately after reading his comics to insist that his vision was exactly what she was looking for to portray the world of the film as seen through the eyes of a puppy. With his usual charm and humour, Evens humbly clarified his role in merely establishing the visual library for the film, and gave full credit to the film’s animators for the the labour in making that vision come to life. The trailer for film (presented below with English subtitles) offers a glimpse into how these animators did justice to the Evens style.




 L’extraordinaire voyage de Marona marks Brecht Evens’ first foray into the world of animation, and he follows in the wake of other fellow Euro comics cartoonists making their inroads into feature-length animated films (Emile Bravo and Lorenzo Mattotti, among others, come to mind). Here’s hoping that films like Marona reach a wider audience so that more unique visions and styles from the comics world can be expressed as moving images,

Nick Nguyen








Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Exhibitions of the 47th Angoulème International Comics Festival: Gunnm L'ange mécanique

The exhibition space on the main floor of the Espace Franquin served as the home to another exhibition devoted to manga, though here the focus was on a singular creation rather than an entire range of work. Gunnm, l'ange mécanique [Gunnm, the mechanical angel] paid homage to Yukito Kishiro's popular cyberpunk series (known to North American readers as Battle Angel Alita) that was originally serialized in Japan from 1990 to 1995, and which was one of the first wave of manga to be translated into French in 1998. To support this exhibition, the Festival pulled out all stops: showcasing 150 pages of original artwork from the series for the first time outside of Japan, as well as bringing in Yukito Kishiro himself for a masterclass and an international encounter with Enki Bilal. 




Inside the darkened L-shaped exhibition room, the pages of original artwork were displayed on the walls as well as on flat and angular tables, and all are individually illuminated by ceiling spotlights. Near the entrance, visitors are drawn toward a video screen that features clips of individual interviews with Kishiro, directors James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez and producer Jon Landau talking about Gunnm the manga and its adaptation into the feature film ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (2019).












The exhibition organized the collection of original artwork into five separate sections that guided visitors through Kishiro's major graphic and thematic preoccupations that distinguished the series and elevated it (and by extension, its author, to stratospheric popularity. 

1. Le corps (the body). As the heroine of the series is an android named Gally, Kishiro places significant visual and thematic emphasis on the body as a site of permanent construction and destruction. Pages in this section are arranged to incrementally spotlight scenes of dismemberment, disconnection and repair to underline Kishiro's indulgence with the organo-mechanic body.








2. L'icone Gally (Gally the icon)

Gally's identity as an android provided Kishiro with the freedom to explore other the ways that duality is literally inscribed upon her body: human/android; hard wiring/free will; warrior/pacifist; violent/tender; and bounty hunter/prey. These dialectics consistently highlight the tension within Gally between the mechanical and the human in her search for her own humanity, with a visual character design that helps elevate her beyond being a simple character toward iconic status.








3. Un monde d'absolu (A world of absolutes)

The action in GUNNM takes place in a universe perfectly in tune with a post-Blade Runner aesthetic, where class divisions are expressed by two worlds: Kuzutetso (the lower depths) and Zalem (the upper heights). Pages that represent each of these worlds provided stunning clarity to Kishiro's labour and his vision in mapping out the intricate details that give these environments a sense of place and scope.










 



4. La cinétique (kineticism)

GUNNM is conceived and presented as a grand action spectacle.  Its pages highlight Kishiro's use of speed and sport through Motorball, a violent game within the GUNNM universe. The selected pages allowed for closer viewing to demonstrate the graphic tools that Kishiro uses, such as blur lines, panel and page design to connote velocity and combat.   










5. Les mues de Yukito Kishiro (The reinventions of Yukito Kishiro). The concluding section presents an evolution of Yukito Kishiro's graphism due to his discoveries of new tools (from airbrusing to digital art) and of new international comics (especially American comics).






This is a solid exhibition with a distinct aesthetic for its presentation (black walls and frames with ceiling spotlights as light sources; thematic sections individuated with color coded captions). The text and captions are to-the-point and provide sufficient commentary for visitors to appreciate what makes this series connect with its readers. Fans of the series will devour the opportunity to see so many original pages that confirm Kishiro's mastery, while neophytes such as myself will leave with a greater appreciation of the series and its place within both Japanese and French comics history.

Nick Nguyen

All photos taken by Nick Nguyen   





















Friday, February 7, 2020

Exhibitions of the 47th Angoulème International Comics Festival: La bande d'Antoine Marchalot dessinée



Upstairs on the top floor of Angoulème's l'Alpha Mediathèque is an officially designated exhibition room where visitors would logically expect to find, based on the Festival maps and orientation literature, the exhibit about the comics of French cartoonist Antoine Marchalot .

"Yeah, well this here is also a an exhibition room, eh"
This was not at all the case as the exhibition was actually installed outside of that room - which was closed to the public during the festival - along the four available walls that surrounded the staircase leading up to the top floor. 


 

It is unclear whether this choice was a result of political, logistic, scheduling, administrative or financial constraints (last year's exhibition on Jeremie Moreau was held in this same space), or a deliberate attempt to evoke a sense of absurdity that is characteristic of the work of Antoine Marchalot. It is totally feasible and appropriate if the answer is the latter since Marcholat himself is the author of this exhibition and he grasped the opportunity to make a meta-joke about the situation. In other words, he doesn't take things too seriously, and that also applies to himself and the presentation of his own work.


Even the title of the exhibition is compromised by Marchalot's sense of absurdity, functioning as both a visual and literary pun in French that subtly shifts meaning of the sentence due to the placement of his name in the sentence. One expects it to be say "Bienvenue dans la bande dessinée d'Antoine Marchalot" [Welcome to the comics of Antoine Marchalot] but what it actually says is "Bienvenue dans la bande d'Antoine Marchalot dessinée!" (loosely translated here as the slang is so French-specific to be [Welcome into the drawn version of Antoine Marchalot's hood!]).  

The introductory panel to the exhibition also provides all of the necessary clues to coach visitors to prepare themselves for what they are about to experience. This is a tongue-in-cheek parody of a comics exhibition whose comedy is amplified because it takes the piss out of a typical comics exhibition by presenting itself as one. This sense of absurdity even informs the encouragement to go downstairs to the Walking Dead exhibition first to get an understanding of how comics (and comics exhibitions) work before returning upstairs! 

For example, the presentation of Marchalot's work is not meant to fetishize his original artwork, but to showcase in very broad terms the comedic register that grounds it. The text boxes only provide the title information of each piece and its date of creation. There is no other metadata about the work other than Marchalot's running commentary, which he uses in a self-deprecating, exaggerated and parodic tone to both inflate and take the piss out of his own work.


The framed pages could be read on the wall as well as in their respective published versions from Les Requins Marteaux, which were chained in a deliberately ridiculous manner to their display tables. Whether it was a public action of reading on the wall with other people at the same time or an individual reading of the chained books, many of the visitors that were present while I was there were outright laughing out loud - first at the gag, then at the commentary. 





There are certain points in the exhibition where visitors must certainly begin to pick up on what Marchalot is up to. The photos below offer some of the exhibition highlights where the absurdity is self-evident. No cow is too sacred for Marchalot, especially when it comes to the discourse of comics exhibitions. The absurdity that he associates with the way that comics aesthetics, form and content are currently valorized and discussed presents readymade targets to take down.

Newspaper and magazine covers. Appeared between 1975 and 2019.

Planche de bédé sauvage. Captured on the outskirts of Bretagnolle, Corrèze, 2019


Actual Caption: "The author desperately seeking to leave the underground". 2019.
It's a pity that the exhibition was only installed for the duration of the Festival weekend as this is the kind of exhibit that demands patience for an audience to appreciate. It took me a while to recognize what Marchalot was doing with his work and this exhibition, but once I understood the method to his madness, things all became clearer and hence, much funnier for me.


Nick Nguyen

All photos taken by Nick Nguyen




INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF COMIC ART 21-1 table of contents




INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF COMIC ART
Vol. 21 , No. 1 Spring/Summer 2019

This issue has been out for months, but my copies got lost in the mail. It even happens to editors when you produce an 800+ page journal.

Table of Contents

Ito Hirobumi's Nose: Syphilis in Early 20th Century Japanese Cartoons
Ronald Stewart
1
"You Are Leaving the French Sector": Flix's Spirou in Berlin and the Internationalization of German Comics
Paul M. Malone
28
As I Please: A Personal Reflection on Censorship
Anton Kannemeyer
52
The "Bobo" (bourgeois-boheme) as Post-Modern Figure? Gentrification and Globalization in Dupuy and Berberian's Monsieur Jean and Boboland
Annabelle Cone
62
Graphic Testimonies of the Balsero Crisis of 1994: Narratives of Cuban Detainees at the Guantanamo Naval Base
Tania Perez-Cano
79
Comics Reinventing Creativity in the Museum: Some Thoughts about the Show "Viii.etas Desbordadas/Overflowing Panels"
Ana Merino
105
Ishii Takashi, Beyond 1979: Ero Gekiga Godfather, GARO Inheritor, or Shiijo Manga Artist?
Jon Holt
118
Of Bears, Birds, and Barks: Animetaphoric Antagonism and Animalsceant Anxieties within Dell Funny Animal Franchise Comics
Daniel F. Yezbick
143
Wang Ning, Beijing Total Vision Culture Spreads Co. Ltd., and the Transnationalization of Chinese Comic Books
John A. Lent
171
Pointed Language: Reading Paola Gaviria's Virus Tropical (2009) from the Perspective of the Visual Protocols of the Graphic Novel
Alvaro Aleman and Eduardo Villacis
184
On Butterflies, Viruses, and Visas: Comics and the Perils of Diasporic Imagined Communities
Hector Fernandez L'Hoeste
192
The City and the Medium of Comics: Depiction of Urban Space in Sarnath Banerjee's Corridor and The Barn Owl's Wondrous Capers
Anu Sugathan
216
Crossing Borders: Graphic Novels Quoting Art
Dietrich Griinewald
Translated by Christina Little
242
That Chameleon Quality: An Interview with R. Sikoryak
Kent Worcester
275
Popular Format and Auteur Format in Italian Comics. The Case of Magnus
Sara Dallavalle
300
Chile's Military Dictatorship and Comics as Alternative Methods of Memorialization: Critical Approaches from Contemporary Chilean Graphic Novels
Sam Cannon and Hugo Hinojosa Lobos
329
Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and Embroideries:A Graphic Novelization of Sexual Revolution across Three Generations of Iranian Women
Leila Sadegh Beigi
350
A Sublime in Tension Around Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau and Francis Desharnais' Les Premiers Aviateurs
Mathieu Li-Goyette
366
"They're Quite Strange in the Larval Stage": Children and Childhood in Gary Larson's "The Far Side"
Michelle Ann Abate
390
Marxism Across Media: Characterization and Montage in Variety Artwork's Capital in Manga
Magnus Nilsson
423
The Desi Archie: Selling India's America to America's India
Debarghya Sanyal
439
Gay Male Porno Comics: Genre, Conventions, and Challenges
Sina Shamsavari
463
Ambitious Women in Male Manga Magazines: Sakuran and Hataraki-Man by Anno Moyoco
Yasuko Akiyama
498
"Hey Kids, Patriarchy!": Satire and Audience on the Back Covers of Bitch Planet
Aimee Vincent
508
The Fine Art of Genocide: Underground Comix and U.S. History as Horror Story
Chad A. Barbour
519
Superman's Remediation of Mid-20th Century American Identity
John Darowski
539
A Matter of Affect: Illustrated Responses to the Immigration Debacle
Hector Fernandez L'Hoeste
551
Random Notes of the Editorial Office of China's Manhua Magazine
Bi Keguan
Edited by Bi Weimin
Translated by Xu Ying
567
The Chus: A Family Teeming with Cartoonists
Chu Der-Chung (Zola Zu) with John A. Lent
Translation by Xu Ying
585
Faith in Comics: Ex-voto Religious Offerings and Comic Art
Alvaro Aleman and Eduardo Villacis
594
Translated Hispano-American Comics in Brazil
Barbara Zocal Da Silva
602
An Afternoon with R. 0. Blechman
Conversation with Jan Ziolkowski and Ariana Chaivaranon
627
Kennedy Conspiracy Comics: en Espanol!
John Gardner
645
The Myth of Frankenstein from Mary Shelley to Gris Grimly: Some Intersemiotic and Ideological Issues
Michela Canepari
665

The Best We Could Do: A Mini-Symposium

The Role of Water in the Construction of Refugee Subjectivity in Thi Bui's The Best We Could Do
Isabelle Martin
693
A Burden of Tales: Memories, Trauma, and Narratorial Legacies in The Best We Could Do and Munnu
Debarghya Sanyal
704
The Fragmentary Body: Traumatic Configurations in Autobiographical Comics by Women of Color
Francesca Lyn
710
A Graphic Medicine Prescription
A. David Lewis
724
Pioneers in Comics Scholarship
My Life with American Comics: How It Started
Kosei Ono
732
Nature of Reality in the Graphic: "Calvin and Hobbes"
Shefali Elizabeth Mathew
738
The Mindset of a Professional Exhibition Curator
Introduced by Jochen Garcke
748
Remembrances
One Life, Many Loves: Dario Mogno's Passion for Cinematography, Publishing, Comics, and Cuba
Licia Citti
772
The Printed Word
John A. Lent
780
Review Essays
Shawn Gilmore
790
David Kunzie
805
Exhibition Review Essay
Jean-Paul Gabilliet
811
Book Reviews
Rachel Kunert-Graf
Stephen Connor
Kirsten Mollegaard
John A. Lent
Maite Urcaregui
820
Exhibition and Media Reviews
Carli Spina
833
Correction
839



IJOCA published twice yearly, appearing between March-May and Oct.-Nov.
Prices from 2011 for IJOCA:

Institutions:
domestic    US$100
foreign        US$120

Individuals:
domestic   US$45
foreign       US$60
Payment can be made by international money order personal check (for U.S. subscribers), checks made on U.S. banks, or cash. Sorry, no credit cards.
Back issues are available at the same rates as above. The following are out of print: Vol. 1, nos. 1 and 2; Vol. 4, no.2, and Vol. 7, no.1. We hope to reprint these numbers soon.
There is no online version of the IJOCA
Subscriptions should be ordered directly from:
Contact: John A. Lent
                 669 Ferne Blvd.
                 Drexel Hill, PA 19026
                 U.S.A.
                 Email: jlent@temple.edu
                 Phone: 610-622-3938
Manuscripts should be sent electronically to John A. Lent, email: jlent@temple.edu and john.lent@gmail.com. The manuscript should include, title (not very long), author, text, endnotes, references, short bio data of author, in that order.