by Dash Shaw
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Le Dernier Cri had a poster hanging in the local Quick (a McDonalds-like fast food place) telling all of the families eating their burgers to “fuck off rape rape rape.” I wish I had a photo of that to share, but here are some quick Angouleme 2011 notes below…
Bastien Vives and Merwan draw their recent Pour L’Empire series (published by Dargaud) entirely on the computer with wacoms. There’s no original art. Compare a page from the book with a dedication I found online that they both drew by hand:
The computer lines are absolutely constant, no variation. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. This is probably going to become more and more common and eventually, like comics coloring, the majority of line art will also be done on the computer. I can’t help but think it’s a fundamentally different experience for the cartoonist. A lot of working on comics, for me, involves having the pages sitting around or taped on the wall and glancing at them while eating cereal or walking around the room. When it’s on the computer, you’re only seeing the pages when you’re actively working on them. They’re never drifting around in real space. Think about it: for all of the New Yorker illustrations that are colored by the computer (basically, all of them) the illustrator didn’t see that lying on their table or sitting on their desk. They didn’t decide to dab a different color on it after it caught their eye while they were doing something else. They clicked on the computer, finished it, and the only time they see it in real space is after it’s been printed.
Vives and Merwan are one of many collaborative teams in France (Ruppert and Mulot spring to mind, as well as Pommepuy and Cosset) where both members write and draw, as opposed to the one-writing-the-other-drawing collaborations found in the States. I didn’t get to talk to them very much about it, but they said it’s more like an animation studio and they work side by side. Ruppert and Mulot send scans to each other and sometimes employ third people to execute different elements of the comic. If there are collaborative comics done in the States like this, I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
I like going to Angouleme (this is my third year) just to be exposed to differences like this. Of course, there are the obvious differences, like the fact that there are no thin monthly serialized comics, they have the BDs and the elaborate dedications. But there’s also different points of reference or different interpretations of the same material. The current exhibit at the Angouleme museum this year was titled “Parody” and it was devoted to Mad magazine-type comics. I think the drawings of Mad magazine guys (like Jack Davis and Mort Drucker) have had a big influence on the French cartoonists (like Blutch and Chauzy—a “springy” line) while the sensibility of Mad is more of an influence on the Americans (like Crumb and Clowes—the snarky attitude.) Different interpretations of the same material.
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase: scans! One of my favorite comics I got at Angouleme this year looks like it was drawn entirely on the computer. It’s by Hok Tak Yeung, Qu’elle Etait Bleue Ma Vallee, published by Actes Sud. This book has bizarre, intense colors that are impossible to scan accurately, but here are a few scans of it anyway:
Another fave is Girl’s Don’t Cry by Nine Antico, published by Glenat. I heard she had a new B&W book published by L’Association, but I couldn’t get that one due to the strike. I’ve never seen such a visually striking comic that’s composed entirely of talking heads. Amazing.
And my third favorite find is Alien by Aisha Franz which is out in German from Reprodukt. She’s one of many cartoonists living in Berlin right now. I can’t read German or French (or the stack of Chinese mini-comics I got) but I just look at the pictures and Alien reads super-smoothly without the words.
Before I go, I have something for you, Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize-winning Devil’s Cleavage star and (we’re sure!) devoted Comics Comics reader: Please consider Marc Bell, John Pham and I for 2012’s “drawing concert” (when cartoonists draw and it’s projected behind a band playing.) This year Baru, Flao and Chauzy drew with Jon Spencer’s Heavy Trash on the stage. Let the North Americans take over and show how it’s done! Frank of course wants in on this too. We will settle for any band! Just get us up there!