Scouts are smurf!

The official UK Scouts store currently has a number of items for sale featuring Belgian creator Peyo’s little blue dwarves doing all kinds of scouty things. I picked the badges, because, well, scouts love badges, but they also have key rings, T-shirts, hoodies, and the like.

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Say it with pictures!

The Australia Council For The Arts commissioned a report on how graphic storytelling (comics, story maps, persona journeys) work, and how cartoonists, illustrators and comickers can make a difference in getting a message across.

Not only did the team (led by Pat Grant and Gabriel Clark) come up with some very interesting insights on how visual thinkers work and how their talents can be applied in a variety of processes and projects, they also present it in the only way that would fit the message : as a set of huge comics-like posters. All materials (including the actual report, a full A0 version of the poster, and a web friendly comic version) are available from the project’s website.

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LeVine is back!

Like I said before, the shelves in my office are filled with books by people that seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Once the words from gods on my Olympos, their often faded spines now seem to hide themselves behind their familiarity, invisible by just being there.

One of these books is Jef Levine’s The Days Go By Like Broken Records (Slave Labor Graphics, 1995), a collection of stories from his comics No Hope, Help and Life Makes My Head Hurt, that are often hilarious, sometimes painful or just silly, and fairly autobiographical (one assumes). Above all, it’s a pretty accurate depiction of what sociologists started calling Generation X, men and women in their 20s, stuck in menial jobs and boredom, without opportunities and, quite often, aspirations.

I must have read that book a thousand times. I can still recount stories from it by heart.  It was rougher, more on-the-nose than anything by Tomine, Matt or Porcellino (to name some other deities from said Olympos) were doing. It unsettled me to no end. But then comics grew up (and so did I), got fancy hard backs and covered a larger spectrum of subjects. And I forgot about LeVine.

But now he’s back. Like any survivor of the early aughts, he’s on Instagram, doing short autobiographical comics that seem to be made for this kind of medium. His artwork is more refined; he seems to have found a line that he is at ease with and that allows him to express himself without resorting to cartoony characters. And the stories too seem to be more relaxed, more — dare I say it — matured. This is an addition to my feed that will keep me going back for more.

(Thanks, Jeff, and thanks, Marc for the pointer!)

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Respect your elders!

I was notified of these panels from the quite excellent Les Routes de La Défaite (Le Merlu 1, Paquet 2019), a harrowing story from the early months of the Second World War in France, when fugitives roamed the land and control posts were all over. Rather than just present a group of anonymous extras in these scenes at the Demarkationslinie, artist Jérome Phalippou cleverly makes them look strangely similar to celebrated characters from classic comics in the Spirou tradition.

We see Fantasio, Benoît Brisefer, the mayor of Champignac (and the count), but also a guy on a bike that looks a lot like Frank Pé’s Brousaille.

Later in the album, another checkpoint has the whole crew from the detective agency from Maurice Tillieux’s Gil Jourdan held up by the Germans, including inspector Crouton.

I thoroughly enjoy it when cartoonists explicitly take their place in a tradition, a specific medium with its own history, its legends, its continuity. Cartoonists who nudge their readers with references, quotations or cameo appearances, show they are part of the same group, that they understand, and that we’re all standing on the shoulders of giants.

(artwork from Le Merlu 1Les Routes de La Défaite by Thierry Dubois and Jérome Phalippou, Paquet 2020, with thanks to Les Amis de Spirou, who keep the flame alive)

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The funnies were never for kids

While comic books were still deemed to be low-grade children’s fodder in the early 60s, the newspaper strips were generally accepted as also or even predominantly aimed at adults. I can’t see another reason for running a half-page ad in Life magazine for the new Ford Falcon Futura (“the compact cousin of the Thunderbird”), with a bespoke Peanuts cartoon as its lead?

This ad also shows that not all Mad Men era advertising was revolutionary, as underneath the hip and happening cartoon, it’s got some of the worst long copy I’ve ever seen.

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Le Chat at IJOCA

In case you are interested, I wrote a short “think piece” on the “affair” concerning Belgian cartoonist Philippe Geluck and his Le Chat museum, for the International Journal of Comic Art blog. It will also be reprinted in the next issue of the paper journal, which will be my first contribution to an actual academic journal.

(Thanks, Mike and John, for the opportunity, and Nick for the pointers)

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The Guradian is 020 years old!

The Guardian, the UK’s (and the world’s) record of conscience, celebrates its 200th anniversary, and who could better encapsulate its stance, values and very peculiar relationship with its readers (and non-readers) than long-time contributor Posy Simmonds? She even included Guardian founder CP Scott

(Thanks for the tip, Paul!)

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Who read comics?

Reading comics wasn’t always a sign of a well-balanced education and a keen sense for quality. Back in the sixties, it particularly showed you somehow never really grew up (or something). Which elevates mr. John Steed, esq. even higher in my standards, as this screenshot will attest, from the rather amusing mix of (real) Avengers fragments, Someone has stolen Big Ben.  Of course, Tintin has always been a sign of bon chic bon genre

(Someone has stolen this from Facebook)

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Pogo in the pit!

I registered my appointment for my Covid vaccination today, and to celebrate, here’s a happy song with some friends from the funnybooks. And a real Pogo doing the pogo!

(thanks to Sean; Title courtesy the one and only Marc W.)

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The goddamn Batman ties the room together.

At one point in our not so distant past, comics fandom was enough of a monolithic affair that it was not out of place to promote a Batman rug (“As featured in the upcoming Batman movie”, and “based on Frank Miller’s Dark Knight”) in an underground (or at least alternative) magazine like Heartbreak Hotel. It even has an endorsement from Jonathan Ross.

In these days of comics in the mainstream, and at the same time an abundance of microniches, I don’t see things like this happening very soon.

(thanks to Scandy)

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