History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels

History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels

Edited by Mark McKinney
Baru
Bart Beaty
Cécile Vernier Danehy
Hugo Frey
Pascal Lefèvre
Fabrice Leroy
Amanda Macdonald
Mark McKinney
Ann Miller
Clare Tufts
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2tvcbt
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  • Book Info
    History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels
    Book Description:

    With Essays by Baru, Bart Beaty, Cécile Vernier Danehy, Hugo Frey, Pascal Lefèvre, Fabrice Leroy, Amanda Macdonald, Mark McKinney, Ann Miller, and Clare Tufts

    In Belgium, France, Switzerland, and other French-speaking countries, many well-known comics artists have focused their attention on historical and political events. In works ranging from comic books and graphic novels to newspaper strips, cartoonists have addressed such controversial topics as French and Belgian collaboration and resistance during World War II, European colonialism and U.S. imperialism, anti-Semitism in France, the integration of African immigrant groups in Europe, and the green and feminist movements.

    History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novelscollects new essays that address comics from a variety of viewpoints, including a piece from practicing artist Baru. The explorations range from discussion of such canonical works as Hergé'sTintinseries to such contemporary expressions as Baru'sRoad to America(2002), about the Algerian War. Included are close readings of specific comics series and graphic novels, such as Cécile Vernier Danehy's examination of Cosey'sSaigon Hanoi, about remembering the Vietnam War. Other writers use theoretical lenses as a means of critiquing a broad range of comics, such as Bart Beaty's Bourdieu-inspired reading of today's comics field, and Amanda Macdonald's analysis of bandes dessinées (French comic books) in New Caledonia during the 1990s.

    The anthology establishes the French-language comics tradition as one rich with representations of history and politics and is one of the first English-language collections to explore the subject.

    Mark McKinney is associate professor of French at Miami University, Ohio. With Alec G. Hargreaves, he editedPost-Colonial Cultures in France.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-761-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Editor’s Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. French-Language Comics Terminology and Referencing
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Representations of History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels: AN INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-24)
    MARK McKINNEY

    Millions of readers worldwide have been introduced to Belgian and French comics through translations of the Tintin series, by Hergé [Georges Remi], and the Asterix series, by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Given the iconic status of these works, they have perhaps inevitably been read as incarnating various aspects of French or Belgian cultural identity. However, even during what is often considered a classic age of so-called Franco-Belgian comics (the 1950s–60s), such identities were problematic constructions, riddled with contradictions and shaped by tensions of various sorts, including ethno-linguistic, class, national, and racial ones. Although those tensions and contradictions tended...

  6. Part One History, Politics, and the Bande dessinée Tradition

    • CHAPTER TWO Trapped in the Past: ANTI-SEMITISM IN HERGÉʹS FLIGHT 714
      (pp. 27-43)
      HUGO FREY

      The political sympathies of Hergé (alias Georges Remi, 1907–83), the famous “father of Tintin,” have become a well-known part of the historical record.¹ Since the publication of two major biographies it has become even clearer to comics readers that, in his youth, Hergé was positioned on the right wing of Belgian politics, and drifted to the extreme-right wing in his thirties (Assouline 1998; Peeters 2002a). His activities during the Nazi occupation of Belgium (1940–44) are, in fact, notorious. Instead of avoiding collaboration with the Nazi-dominated press during the period, he maximized opportunities for work in it. For example,...

    • CHAPTER THREE Re-imaging Heroes / Rewriting History: THE PICTURES AND TEXTS IN CHILDRENʹS NEWSPAPERS IN FRANCE, 1939–45
      (pp. 44-68)
      CLARE TUFTS

      When Paris was liberated in the summer of 1944, a beautifully illustrated, twenty-nine-page, hardback comic book about the war appeared on the market seemingly overnight. This publication,La bête est morte![The Beast is Dead!] (Calvo, Dancette, and Zimmermann 1944; 1995), presented a pictorial account of a world war among animals who represented all the major players of the Second World War. Thanks to a facsimile published by Gallimard in 1995, thisbande dessinéewith its extremely positive vision of the French and their actions during the Occupation is more familiar to a wide audience today than most publications available...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Concept of “Patrimoine” in Contemporary Franco-Belgian Comics Production
      (pp. 69-94)
      BART BEATY

      A curious footnote appears in the indicia of the second edition of Jean-Christophe Menu’s bookMeder(2005a). Alongside a dedication to Paul Carali and Etienne Robial, a note by Menu reads: “The first edition ofMederwas published in the ‘Gros Nez’ collection by Futuropolis (1972–94) in November 1988.” What is to be made of this statement? On the one hand, it is very nearly a simple declaration of fact. Yet the parenthetical dates indicate that something unusual has transpired. These dates suggest that Futuropolis is dead; it was a twenty-two-year comics publishing experiment that concluded more than a...

  7. Part Two Political Reportage and Globalism in Bandes dessinées

    • CHAPTER FIVE Citizenship and City Spaces: BANDE DESSINÉE AS REPORTAGE
      (pp. 97-116)
      ANN MILLER

      Reportage has come to take a prominent place in contemporarybande dessinée.¹ I begin here with a brief survey of the genre, to suggest the range of work produced under this heading. The remainder of my chapter offers a close textual analysis of a highly accomplished example of the genre, “La Présidente” [The Woman President], drawn by Blutch (i.e., Christian Hincker) with texts by Jean-Christophe Menu. “La Présidente” supports my argument that the signifying practices of the medium make it particularly compelling as a vehicle for reportage.

      One of the most enduringly famous of allbande dessinéecharacters, Tintin, was...

    • CHAPTER SIX Games Without Frontiers: THE REPRESENTATION OF POLITICS AND THE POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION IN SCHUITEN AND PEETERSʹS LA FRONTIÈRE INVISIBLE
      (pp. 117-136)
      FABRICE LEROY

      In a chapter of his essayLe portrait du roi[Portrait of the King], entitled “Le roi et son géomètre” [The King and His Surveyor], Louis Marin reflects on the hegemonic nature of mapping by analyzing Jacques Gomboust’s 1652 map of Paris, not only as an epistemological object characteristic of scientific endeavor during the reign of Louis XIV, but also as a political project designed to assert and glorify Louis’s absolute monarchy (Marin 1981: 209–20). Although more recent studies on cartography have furthered the analysis of the inherent linkage between politics and the production of spatial knowledge and identity...

  8. Part Three Facing Colonialism and Imperialism in Bandes dessinées

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Algerian War in Road to America (Baru, Thévenet, and Ledran)
      (pp. 139-165)
      MARK McKINNEY

      The impossible wish to evade nationalist politics during the Algerian War (1954–62) is the principal theme ofLe chemin de l’Amérique, a graphic novel by Baru [Barulea, Hervé]¹ (art and script), Jean-Marc Thévenet (script), and Daniel Ledran (colors) (1990, 1998). This graphic novel was recently translated into English and published asRoad to Americaby Drawn and Quarterly (Montreal), a comics publisher (1995–97, 2002). Its main character, an Algerian boxer named Saïd Boudiaf, wishes to avoid taking sides either for the Front de libération nationale (FLN [National Liberation Front]), fighting for Algerian independence, or for the French government...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Congo Drawn in Belgium
      (pp. 166-185)
      PASCAL LEFÈVRE

      Belgium has begun showing renewed interest in its former colonies (the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi), as is demonstrated by the following events: a parliamentary investigation (2000–2001) into the extent of Belgium’s responsibility for the murder of former Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba (1925–61);¹ a popular colonial exhibition, “Memory of the Congo” (Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale 2005); and a controversial television documentary,White King, Red Rubber, Black Death(Bate 2003), on abuses under the rule of King Leopold II (1835–1909). Moreover, the former colonies are caught in a downward spiral: there have been ethnic conflicts and genocides...

    • CHAPTER NINE Distractions from History: REDRAWING ETHNIC TRAJECTORIES IN NEW CALEDONIA
      (pp. 186-211)
      AMANDA MACDONALD

      It is axiomatic for historians that the grand enterprise of nation-making depends upon the commensurately grave enterprise of history-making. In the case of the Melanesian archipelago, dubbed “New Caledonia” by James Cook in 1774 and thereby drawn inevitably into the history of nations, it appears that the incidental gestures of face-making and the landmark feats of history-making are mutually entailed in ways that complicate the nation-making project at those points where representational effects register ethno-racial difference, across the colonial divide. This proposition is notably in evidence where facial representation engages with the marked ethnic politics that have followed sincela...

    • CHAPTER TEN Textual Absence, Textual Color: A JOURNEY THROUGH MEMORY—COSEYʹS SAIGON-HANOI
      (pp. 212-236)
      CÉCILE VERNIER DANEHY

      Bernard Cosendai (Cosey) was born in 1950 near Lausanne, Switzerland. In 1969 he met Derib, the only Swiss professional cartoonist at the time. After an internship at Derib’s studio, Cosey became his assistant and worked with him for seven years. Cosey’s own first major artistic creation, the “Jonathan” stories, began appearing in theTintinmagazine in 1975. Eleven book volumes were published in the series between 1977 and 2001. Cosey was invited by Dupuis to inaugurate its important new collection, “Aire Libre.” In it he eventually published six stories between 1988 and 2003, includingLe voyage en Italie(1988) and...

  9. Part Four A French Cartoonist’s Perspective on the Working Class and Bandes dessinées

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN The Working Class and Comics: A FRENCH CARTOONISTʹS PERSPECTIVE
      (pp. 239-258)
      BARU

      Instead of asserting some definitive truths about comics in general, I will attempt to describe to you my own experience as an author who pays attention to what his stories tell. I am therefore going to relate to you my ideas about content, rather than form.

      My practice is inscribed in the field of possibilities of comics. Historically, this field has been little turned over or explored. The result is that today we are left with a monstrous pile of publications that are conformist because they are repeated so often. This leaves the many other possible avenues through the world...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-276)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 277-280)
  12. Index
    (pp. 281-300)