Academic journal article European Comic Art

Introduction: Diversity and New Directions

Academic journal article European Comic Art

Introduction: Diversity and New Directions

Article excerpt

Future directions are often shaped by quirks of necessity or chance: the groundbreaking iconoclast that is Moebius's Garage hermétique, with its rejection of conventional narrative or character coherence, came as a result of the author having forgotten previous scripts from one week to the next; Rodolphe Töpffer, so often credited for having invented the modern comic strip, initially saw himself as producing no more than scribblings for the entertainment of his pupils; one of the earliest of text/image forms, the emblem, may well be the result of Augsburg printer, Heinrich Steiner, adding images in 1531 to Andrea Alciato's epigrams, a far cry from the composed intertwining of Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili of 1499. Mirroring such processes in our own way, European Comic Art is embarking on a new direction, as we turn to issues that can reflect the diversity of comic art rather than being necessarily united by a single theme. It is a logical direction, but also one shaped by chance and necessity, that of the diversity of high-quality submissions that we have been delighted to receive.

Unification through diversity is, however, in itself a paradoxical theme. On the formal level, this current issue demonstrates the rich variety of approaches and presentations that comic art scholarship can sustain. We present four analytical articles with very different methodologies and subject matter, as well as annotated interviews from two contemporary artists. The volume is richly illustrated by both archival material and original artwork, and the broader context of current scholarship is explored in the reviews section. To take the two artists featured prominently, their lives and activities may seem as different as can be imagined, yet such diversity is riddled with overlaps. Farid Boudjellal (b. 1953) is from Toulon, of Algerian and Armenian heritage, and has been living and working in Paris for several decades. His comics criss-cross the Mediterranean from Algeria to France and back, and often tell stories related to colonisation, war and working-class migration. However, his work cannot be easily pigeonholed. For example, some of it combines the realist and fantastic genres, and his comics references are wide-ranging, from Milton Caniff to Essegesse, and from Louis Forton to Gébé. Morvandiau (b. 1974) works through off-thewall caricature often to provide biting political satire, coming through the underground presses now to reach mainstream audiences via such publications as Marianne. In D'Algérie, the book that is the main focus of the interview, he abandons his habitual register to investigate the links between the story of his Pied-noir family and the wider history of France's colonial relationship with Algeria. The post-colonial inheritance therefore runs through the work of both artists, and these interviews raise similar themes of identity, belonging and cultural memory.

Likewise, our four scholarly articles, from authors based in four different countries, explore different approaches that come together when least we expect it. Anna Giaufret's article brings work in pragmatics to bear on the dialogues in two albums set in Corsica. Moreover, her discussion focuses specifically on the question of transcultural communication, or miscommunication. …

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