A small (approx 4″ by 6″) stapled pamphlet, this is an illustrated story called Satsuki Hime 五月姫, which seems to translate as “May Princess,” written by Manabe Kureo 眞鍋呉夫, with pictures by Watanabe Ikuko 渡辺郁子. 42 pages long on newsprint.
The Comics Journal has published my article on artist Ibrahim Njoya, who lived and worked in Cameroon during the first half of the 20th Century. Historical context, formal analysis, and most of all, images of Njoya’s beautiful work, like this:
When I was in Barcelona in 2013, I bought two copies (dated 26 November 1908 & 7 December, 1910) of Cu-cut, the Catalan satirical magazine at a flea market. I didn’t realize until much later that the language was Catalan, as I mostly just looked at the cartoons.Â I won’tÂ pretend to understand the early 20th century Catalan politics, except to conjecture that probably many of the issues linger to this day.Â For more on the journal:Â https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C2%A1Cu-Cut!
The journal was published between 1902 and 1912,Â and featured as a mascot this character, known as “The Catalan” (on the covers his hat, bow-tie and nose are bright red).
Cu-Cut, which is Catalan for “cuckoo,”Â Â was at the center of civil unrest in December 1905 when, after publishing a cover satirizing the military, its offices were attacked and trashed by some 200Â armyÂ officers.Â The incident resulted in curtailment of freedom of the press and had a major impact onÂ Catalan politics and on the power of the military in Spanish civil affairs.Â Â Continue reading ““Cu-cut,” Catalan political cartoon journal”→
A 1950s shojo manga I bought online from a Japanese auction site, a relic of the era of kashihon,Â inexpensive rental libraries through which many manga books were distributed in impoverished, post-war Japan.. Â “Hoshizora ni uta e ba (If You Sing to the Starry Sky”) by Masai Akiyosha.Â Here are select pages, and my Â non-Japanese-reading commentary/ guesses at what’s going on. Â First, the cover and page one of the story.
The cover appears to be by a different artist than the interior. Â PerhapsÂ å‹å±±ã²ã‚ã— – KATSUYAMA Hiroshi?
I recently wrote an article about French cartoonist Chantal Montellier, for Comics Workbook Magazine #10, edited byÂ Whit Taylor.
Comics Workbook is probably the smartest and most interesting journal about independent comics, and appears only in print! I highly recommend ordering a copy from Copacetic Comics. besides my article, there’sÂ comics byÂ Aatmaja Pandya,Â Hannah Kaplan, andÂ Nicholas Offerman, an interview with Rob Kirby, Keiler Roberts and Scott Roberts, and a converbetweenÂ Sara LautmanÂ andÂ Scott Longo.
Since there’s no online edition, here’s a look at the article. (And I will point out that this actually came outÂ BEFORE the AngoulÃªme Festival’s problems with women cartoonists… so don’t think I was just jumping on the bandwagon!)
And here’s how that page from Damnes des Nanterre looks in color:
These are both well written and perceptive pieces, and follow the general pattern of most of the book’s reviews, in terms of both positives and negatives:
Gratifyingly, the critics express admiration for the scope of the task and our success at achieving it. Lefevre says,
“Even with these limitations [that is, narrowing the “global” scope down to Europe, Japan and North America, for the most part], it remains an impressive achievement to tackle the three majorÂ comics-producing cultures, North America, Francophone Europe and Japan. Not only the most popularÂ or acclaimed titles of the three regions are succinctly presented, but also lesser-known but historicallyÂ important works. So, I guess that every reader from every part of the world will learn about several newÂ interesting titles or artists.”
And Ridout: “Where the authors undeniably succeed is in distilling their extensive research into a single volume that places the development of comics in five continents across five decades into a wider cultural context, revealing fascinating parallels, divergences and cross-pollination between the disparate histories.”
Both Lefevre and Ridout also mention specific points they agreed with.
Lefevre liked that “the authors rightly state that demographics played an important role: the postwar baby boom created a mass of childrenâ€™s comics readers in the 1950s and one they becameÂ teenagers and young adults, in the 1960s, they were accustomed to reading graphic narratives and theyÂ were ready for graphic narratives with more adult aspirations.”
Ridout mentions a few “enjoyable discoveries” of previously unknown work, such as Pazienza, Oshima, Neaud. That, for me, is what it’s all about!
On the negative side, there’s been pretty much unanimous critical agreement, of course, that the ambitions of the project necessitate some omissions, and each critic will point out those that they feel are the most egregious. In almost all cases, these complaints are perfectly valid. For Lefevre, it’s the thin coverage of newspaper strips, and also the relatively small number of source citations.
Ridout points out that our acknowleged focus on artistic rather than commerical importance “creates aÂ somewhat skewed, auteurist history that overlooks writer Stan Leeâ€™s equally pivotal role alongside artist Jack Kirby in attracting college-aged readers to Marvel Comics in the 60s and the impact of mainstream publishers embracing non-anglophone artists and writers since the 70s.” Fair enough.
Ridout, with a sensitive ear for tone, also catches the uncharacteristically “sombre” mood of the final chapter, in which Alexander and I succumbed, perhaps, to a little bit of a “good old days” quality in musing on the decline of the fictional graphic novel in recent years. That’s a criticism that hits home, since I don’t think either of us really feels, or wishes to convey, a negative judgment on contemporary comics!
The first story in #05, “Yes Scotland,” by Olivier Hensgen and Daniel Casanave, shows the risks of practicing journalism in the time-consuming medium of comics: a background piece on the referendum on Scottish independence, which arrived in my mailbox shortly after the vote had taken place (I guess the French subscribers probably got theirs in time). Still learned a lot, mostly aboutÂ the leader of the independence movement, Alex Salmond.
Well-drawn and well-written, this 29-page storyÂ still mostly failsÂ my test forÂ being a really satisfying use of the medium: you could learn pretty much everything from reading the text, the images are merely supporting illustrations. Â Nothing wrong with illustrations, mind you, but I’m looking for a more interesting use of comics. Â One major exception to this criticism, is when the “action” of the story shifts to the oil-boom Northern town of Aberdeen, and the creators devote a largely wordless double-page spread to a visual approach, through the countryside to the city. Â I’m not sure the reason behind this choice, but it’s a nice touch.
The second major story in this issue is the cover feature “Death of a Judge,”Â by journalist BenoÃ®t Collombet and artistsÂ Ã‰tienne Davodeau. The longest piece in the book, at 59 pages, I found this the most successful as well. Â The subject is the assassination of a crusading judge in Lyons, in 1975, against a backdrop of political violence and corruption. The creators use theirÂ ample page count to develop characters and atmosphere, tellingÂ the story with a flashback structureÂ thatÂ follows the writer and artist as they travel from place to placeÂ interviewing various witnessesÂ to the nearly 40-year old events.
Davodeau’s ink-wash art is exquisite, and he beautifully creates the spaces inhabited by the interview subjects, as well as gestures and expressions; the differing social positions and personalities of the interview subjects become a part of the story. Â Details like the artist’s accommodation of aÂ character who doesn’t want to be drawn, but requests that Davodeau depictÂ her as a young woman (the age that she was in 1975), show a playful use of the form (in the first panel of her interview she’s shown holding up an old photo of herself in front of her face; after that, she’s drawn as she appeared in the photo). Â Overall this story is a great use of comics as a journalistic medium.
The third major piece in the book, at 40 pages long, Â is “Emprunts Toxiques” (Toxic Loans), by Catherine Le Gall and Benjamin Adam, which deals with the causes and results of the 2008Â financial crisis in France. Here the big challenge, especially in the first section of the story, is to explain the complicatedÂ (sometimes absurdly so) financial instruments and arrangements that led to the crisis. Although this falls to some degree into the “caption/illustration” format, I thought it was done effectively; the creators make extensive use of pictographic metaphors, which are actually quite helpful in making sense of the tortured financial logic (especially for aÂ non-fluentÂ French reader). It was interesting to learn that, unlike the mortgage-based derivatives that are blamed for doing in our economy, the toxic loans that pushed French municipalities and banks to the brink of doom were based on arbitrage between the Euro and the Swiss Franc. Â I don’t know why they created derivatives like those, but apparently they did, with disastrous results.
The second part of the story becomes more narrative and character-based, following the efforts of a provincial Mayor to stand up to more powerfulÂ political and financial interests to defend his city from ruin. Â This dramatic story is well told, and again it’s interesting to see the difference between the crisis’ aftermath in France and the U.S. – banding together, French municipal leaders seem to have had some success using legal means to resist paying the sky-high interest rates that resulted from the banks’ sneaky and short-sighted practices.
Besides these three long pieces (accounting for more than half the page count of the book), there are numerous shorter features., including:
— A recurring humorous strip on language, La chroniqueÂ langagiÃ¨reÂ by James, this time about beaurocracy-speak (last issue’s was about crossword puzzle fanatics).
— An essay by/Â interview with French clown Pierre Etaix (who worked with Jacques Tati), by Argnetinian cartoonist Carlos Nine. Â This isn’t presented in comics form, but isÂ copiously illustratedÂ by Nine.
We have some pretty good comics journalism here in the States (see the digitalÂ magazine Symbolia, for instance), but we still have toÂ envy the French for figuring out how to produce such a classy journal as this. If you read French, and comics journalism interests you, I recommend a subscription. Â If you don’t read French and comics journalism interests you, I recommend taking some French classes and getting a subscription.
“inÂ Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present, [Mazur and Danner] do an admirable job with a nearly impossible task: providing an encyclopedic overview of important comics throughout the world during that era â€“ popular comics and alternative comics, comics from Japan, Europe and the United States, comics from different schools of thought and design, comics using diverse styles, comics presented sometimes in dramatically diverse ways â€“ and Mazur and Danner do so with a smart focus.”