COMMUNITY NEWSWhat's new in Comics & Cartoons Elixia-Dragmire
is holding a contest to promote her comic's launch! Details here. Words & Pictures Podcast: Episode 7
, an interview of TimTownsend
has created a Twitter account for C&C
! It will be used to make quick announcements regarding C&C, pimps of our DDs, contests, journals, news articles, etc. as well to promote other artists and God only knows what else. More in Thiefoworld
is now open for reviews! You can review any comic listed in this vast directory and submit your review to the group for all on dA to read. Details and guidelines in this journal
. Now More Than Ever We Need Cartoons - Issue 1
COMIC NEWSHappenings in comics worldwide WonderCon
took place at the end of February in San Francisco; this post by Tom Spurgeon
has links to accounts of all the publisher panels (among other things). Of interest to those who want to know what their favourite comic publishers are cooking!
This hour-long recorded conversation between Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) and Chris Ware (Acme NoveltyLibrary)
for the New Yorker is not to be missed.
A substantial article on Lynda Barry
, author of Ernie Pook's Comeek
and one of the strongest female voices in the medium.
An abundantly illustrated interview with Dave McKean
from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
RESOURCESLinks to refine your craft
Install your own commenting system on your webcomic: TalkBack
is a free, powerful comment script. This tutorial
has made the rounds, but it is a useful all-in-one-page, quick reference for several useful notions such as lighting and shadows, hues, lineart principles... Nothing in depth but quite a good refresher.Both suggested by LeBlah
SPOTLIGHTA closer look at one author, series, graphic novel or theme
This week's spotlight is on the theme of Genocide
in comics. It is a very dark theme, arguably the darkest any medium can tackle, and delicate to address any way you look at it. It is therefore particularly educational to look at the ways in which potential of the comic medium has been drawn upon to bring such horrific events to the collective attention. This needs be a modest attempt, but I'm hoping the quick survey of published volumes below will show a pattern of choice of angles, as well as devices that worked and others that failed to serve their purpose.
What are the comic medium's advantages over prose or film here?
For one thing, they have the ability to reach a wider audience than books or movies. Nothing is as easy to share as a comic book. It requires no TV, no electricity, not that much of your time to read. It can be produced with no budget at all, and even an ambitious graphic novel can be made for peanuts compared to the budget of a movie. Two or 3 people can read one together and the images make it partially accessible to any age group, level of education and language. Even though they are not taken seriously by everyone, it is highly noticeable that when an organization or company wants to pass on information to the largest number, they almost automatically consider putting it in the form of a comic strip.
Another advantage is their unique combination of text and images that allow them to use the best of both worlds when crafting a story that requires subtlety. A single panel can bring a reader, both emotionally and information-wise, to a place that would require an excessive amount of written words. It can tell something while showing something else; it can seem to tell nothing while providing the reader with visual settings where he is left to wander and project his own meaning. A comic can direct the eye and thought, or it can decline to direct anything, as it has the luxury of being open to the reader to read quickly, slowly, flipping back and forth, or otherwise interact with the printed object. Informational tidbits can be interwoven with a storyline without breaking it; indeed nothing dictates that the story be linear and the information seamlessly integrated, so the double narration can be pushed very far into thoroughly experimental formats.
For the survivor telling his own story, drawing can be more cathartic and less as act of baring oneself than writing. It also bypasses the narrator, or at least makes him or her imperceptible, so that the experience is more immediate and not so obviously directed.
This was just a smattering of points comics offer, not a comprehensive list. Let's now go over the graphic novels themselves and their own approaches.A genocide is a "crime against humanity aiming to destroy all or part of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group". Within the 20th century, it applies to 4 events: the Armenian genocide of 1915-18, the Holocaust of the Jews and massacre of Gypsies during WWII, the extermination of Cambodgians by the Red Khmers, and the 1994 events in Rwanda. Sang d'Arménie
, 1985 (color reedition of 1979 L'Ile aux Chiens
), by Guy Vidal, art by Clavé.
The story exposes the tragedy of the Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman empire between 1890 and 1920, through the eyes of a Canadian reporter who already featured in an earlier volume, and who fights alongside the oppressed. Highly political, it deliberately draws parallels with more contemporary events. It was awarded the Prix Résistance-Témoignage Chrétien in Angoulême.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Prior to the Auction of Souls
, 2008, by Tigran Mangasaryan.
"The Auction of Souls" was actually a silent movie, made by Oscar Apfel and premiered in NY in 1919, the very first movie on the subject, based on the published memoirs of a survivor. Tigran Mangasaryan's graphic novel is simply another adaptation of these same memoirs, but did not find a publisher until the 90th anniversary of the movie, in 2008, where it was published in Armenia itself.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Petit Polio tome 3: Mémé d'Arménie
by Farid Boudjellal.
The series Petit Polio
is the story of an Algerian family in the French city of Toulon. Whereas the first 2 volumes approach subjects such as death explained to children, physical handicap, and the Algerian war, this particular volume describes the Armenian tragedy through the dialogue of two characters: the lead character Mahmoud's own grandmother, survivor of the genocide, and a young boy who lost his family in the events and knows nothing of his roots. The sharing enables them to recover the memories as well as some personal healing and balance. As the story is told from the point of view of a child (Mahmoud), the historical and religious discourses are glossed over and the focus is entirely on the emotions of the characters.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Impasse et Rouge
, 1995, L'Eau et la Terre
, 2005, Lendemains de Cendres
, 2007 by Sera (Phousera Ing)
This trio makes up the only graphic novel currently in print that's dealt with the Cambodgian genocide. Sera was expelled from Cambodia with his brother and their French mother shortly after the Khmers' taking Phnom Penh, while his father remained behind and fell victim to the regime. The stories are not autobiographical but draw heavily on the artist's experience and subsequent research. They also do not convey a single viewpoint, but offer glimpses into different lives and how the situation affected them. Reviews have pointed out favorably that the author does not add graphic violence to the situational violence by inflicting gory scenes on the reader, as the writing and ultra-realistic style make it quite dark enough as it is (we'll see below further comments as to why graphic depictions may weaken the intended message rather than reinforce it). There is also no "anvilicious" moral: it's a snapshot of human madness, which needs no further commentary.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Maus
, 1987, by Art Spiegelmann.Maus
was the first major work about the Shoah and, in the English-speaking world at least, it shattered preconceptions of what comic books were and pushed back the boundaries of the medium. It is presented as an autobiography within an autobiography, as this is the true story of the author. son of two survivors, collecting his father's memories, and trying to cope both with a father who drives him crazy and with revelations too horrifying to deal with. A few devices, such as representing all characters as animals, allow the reader to keep a distance from the horror he retells. Far from reducing their impact, it simply helps the psyche not to shut down in the face of them, and gives more room to reflect upon the material. Maus
kind of dances around the expectations one may have of a publication about the Holocaust, as its tone (which is the father's voice) is very matter-of-fact about the whole thing and it doesn't focus on the elements central to the Final Solution yet this lack of trying
to horrify the reader achieves precisely that. Doubtless the genius involved in striking that balance is part of why Maus
is still hailed as the most influential graphic novel of its kind, and is difficult to emulate.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… We Are on Our Own
, 2006, by Miriam Katin</i>.
This was Katin's first full-length graphic novel, authored eat the age of 63. It is the first graphic novel made by a direct witness, being the author's own story during the year 1944, when her mother and her escaped on foot from the Nazi invasion of Budapest, disguised as a peasant women and her illegitimate child. The author tries to reconstruct her outlook on the traumatic events as the child she was, and presents this as an attempt to understand her lifelong questioning of faith. One issue of such a personal approach, especially one that seeks to reconstruct one's own thoughts and feelings at the time, is that it will certainly be misunderstood by a sizeable chunk of readers and that one must either use a disclaimer to prevent this or acquire a thick skin. Here for instance, at the time Katin was narrowly escaping a horrible fate, the Russian communists represented salvation to her. She faithfully transcribed that state of mind in the story and as a result received angry letters from readers accusing her of disregarding the evils of communism that others suffered. Irrelevant but predictable. Happily both she and her publisher know exactly what the book says and doesn't say, and have stood by it.
i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Mendel's Daughter: A Memoir
, 2006, by Martin Lemelman
The author, a children's book illustrator, videotaped his mother recounting her experiences growing up in 1930s Poland and narrowly surviving the Holocaust. After she passed away, he heard her in a dream that inspired this unique transcription of her testimony, which proceeds from her happy childhood to the brutal arrival of the Nazis and surviving in the woods with her brothers for 18 months. As unconventional a comic as they come, Mendel's Daughter juxtaposes pencil drawings, family photographs, and handwritten text in his mother's Jewish American dialect. The same narration choice had been made for Maus
, where the narrator's English is noticeably unedited, and this only makes the narration more direct, as if heard directly from the witness without the intermediate of a storyteller. However, the immediate consequence of this choice is that you are bound to what the witness tells you. The storyteller has only little room to show or tell things hat are outside what they have been told, and the focus of the survivor may not be at all on what others may feel is more important, or they may not be willing to evoke it. This is not necessarily a drawback, but it demands enough humility on the author's part to make the recollections work as a graphic novel without interfering with their substance.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Auschwitz
, 2001, by Pascal Croci.
Croci doesn't seem to have a personal connection to the Holocaust, but made his book out of a desire to "sensibilize the new generations to the duty of education." He says "Words aren't enough. Without images, there is no possible reconstitution. Everything begins with the image." The work, based on extensive research and interviews with survivors, tells of life in the camp through the reminiscences of a (fictional) Polish couple visiting the camp again 50 years after their release from it. The art is in grayscale and quite raw, deliberately avoiding a quest for aesthetics. Rather than explicitly show sensitive sights (such as the ovens), the author creates an atmosphere of death where everything seems drown in grey fog and the sun never shines. The art succeeds in arousing deep emotion in the reader, and has been praised for its honesty.
An overwhelming piece of work, Auschwitz
nevertheless suffers from a complete absence of plot. The author's focus on the documentary aspect outweighed the story aspect, so that the latter is exposed as just a thin device to make a documentary look like a story. Even so, an explanatory section at the end of the book is necessary to fully understand it. Don't get me wrong, by all accounts the emotional depth alone makes this a commendable work. It's just that its failings as a graphic novel should be understood in order to be avoided.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Tsiganes: 1940-1945, Le camp de concentration de Montreuil-Bellay
, 2008, by Kkrist Mirror
Mirror's is the only work that's been made in this medium about the fate suffered by Gypsies in the camp of Montreuil-Bellay, where they were deprived of food, taunted by the guards, and bombed by the Allies. The result is an exceptional, deeply human, black-and-white document on nomads during World War 2. Mirror's motivation was his unwillingness to let such "essential facts" be forgotten, once he had learned about them. The element that ties the book together is the real-life figure of father Jollec, who devoted himself to helping the prisoners. The style of the artwork has been described as rigid and tortured, unforgiving, a stark realism demanded by the theme.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Smile Through the Tears
, 2005, by Rupert Bazambanza
The Rwanda genocide is particular in that the victims were victorious in the end, in that the survivors and their killers returned to live side by sde after the events, and in that so many survivors remain, many of them artists. Bazambaza's book tells the true story of a family he lived with, of which only the mother survived. Not only a way to honor thei rmemory, the book is a highly educational work that aims to explain the origin and mechanism of the massacre. The author himself occasionally appears in the story, which he has witnessed personally:
"A large part of my book is about the genocide except I don't show the massacres much. I show more of the difficult moments we had during the 3 months of the genocide. Another part of my comic understands the pre-genocide period and its preparation. I show how we grew up in a system that led to a genocide. I also condemn the abandon of the internaitonal community that refuses to intervene."i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… Rwanda 1994
, 2005 to 2008, by Cécile Grenier, Ralph et Pat Masioni
In contrast to the above, this work has been heavily criticized for its heavy-handed treatment of the subject. The authors have chosen to show the genocide to its full extent, with only the flimsiest of storylines to tie together page upon page of mass massacres. While this was doubtless intended to show the naked truth of what happened, it fails in many ways. Graphic depiction, when overused only serves to accustom the reader and numb him or her to the tragedy. Morewover, we all know that numbers do not elicit care. It is easier to kill 1,000 people by pressing a button than it is to kill a single person you have to look in the eyes. The effect here is that you look at hundreds of completely anonymous victims and all you can feel is disgust and eventually jadedness. Contrast it with any of the works above where a single character's sufferings become your own. Far from exposing the genocide, they banalize it, and the uninformed reader ends up with the impression that this is "business as usual" in Africa, and that it is a clearcut matter of good guys versus bad guys.
This is a case that emphasizes how delicate it can be to choose the comic medium to represent a genocide. Simplification is inevitable, so that the more one attempts to cover the event in full, the more obvious the simplification is. Most of the authors listed above have consciously avoided this pitfall by adopting the victim's point of view, which is explicitly limited and presented without outside commentary. This means they scaled down the epic events to a human scale, choosing to tell less, but to tell it in a way we can all relate to and that would not crate false impressions.i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/… i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/…Inspired by the bdzoom.com article: Le génocide rwandais en BD : comment témoigner d'un génocide par l'image ?The posting of the pages above for review purposes falls under Fair Use please do not use them or repost them for other purposes.
TROPE OF THE WEEKStorytelling devices and how to use or NOT use them
Sorry, no trope this week, because the feature is so big!
BOOKMARKBlogs and stuff to keep an eye on Scott McCloud's newly relaunched site and blog
. Need I say more?
During the month of March, Brian Cronin will look at one Pulitzer prize-winning cartoons each day
, spanning the US's political cartoon history (1922-1967). (The survey stops in 67 because after that the cartoonists began to be awarded for their body of work, no longer for a single cartoon)
Tom Gauld's cartoons for the Guardian (UK) as a Flickr set
. Very random! Invisible Cities
is a very unusual webcomic in that it uses alt tags for all the story's text.Suggested by LeBlah
ALMOST-DDsDeviations that didn't make it as DDs, but are still worth a look!
WILD CARDWhat is she going to come up with this time? The Grimace Project
. Hover over the face and play... Bizarre and/or cool!
See you next week!
Your C&C Gallery Moderators, Feedback and suggestions can be sent to MajnounaPrevious issues:1