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A COMICA REVIEW BY:

SARAH McINTYRE


Sarah McIntyre is an American cartoonist living in London. Sarah attended the talk with French cartoonists Ted Benoit and Emmanuel Guibert at the French Institute on 19 November 2008, and the following review appeared on her blog Jabberworks.

Last night I went to the French Institute in London to hear a talk by two of France’s top comics creators, Ted Benoit and Emmanuel Guibert as part of the Comica series. While I was in Provence a couple months ago, I saw lots of old copies of Blake and Mortimer series for sale in the markets, so I was a little bit aware of his work, but Guibert is a new find for me. There was a rush for seats at the start, so I sat at the back with Tozocomic, Rainbow Orchid and his wife Ellie, Maartje Schalkx, Sarah Lightman, a Scotsman named Euan and Catrina MacLeod, who’s doing her PhD on women in comics. Since I could catch glimpses of the overhead screen but couldn’t see the speakers from there, I did a lot of doodling in my notes.

Have a look at some of Ted Benoit’s artwork here. I was interested by Benoit’s fascination with 1950s America, and his assertion that ‘Americans don’t draw America very well’, that their pictures are ‘too dramatic’, while he likes a more documentary style look at the landscape which he only finds in underground comics there. He cited American influences on his work, particularly Robert Crumb, and talked about his conscious decision to take on Hergé‘s style of ligne claire drawing; he didn’t see it as copying, more that Hergé‘s established style can be used as a tool, like a pen.

Guibert turned out to be a captivating speaker. (Read an article by Paul Gravett about him here). I was very moved by his description of getting to know an old American soldier, Alan, and the depth of their relationship as Guibert listened to Alan tell stories of wartime, and later, his childhood, up to the time he died. Guibert has produced three books about the man, now compiled into one, La Guerre d’Alan, and he’s also going to come out with a book about Alan’s childhood. Here you can see a video of his strange but effective working technique for Alan’s War with ink and water. (It’s not clear what’s happening at first, but it all falls into place at the end).

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Reviews

"This event showcased some of the great variety of manga art styles and artists working across languages, continents and cultures in the world today."
Karl Pell

"...a two-week celebration of the art form..."
The London Paper

"...it's a great time to be a comics fan in London!"
Chris Thompson

"...a comprehensive, varied and exciting season that demonstrated the reach and diversity of the art form."
The Comics Journal

"The ICA treats comics the way they should be: as contemporary art."
Sci Fi London

"British preconceptions of graphic novels are changing as exhibitions such as Comica expose the challenging work out there."
Design Week

"Yet another fabulous evening."
Martin Eden

"...Sacco had some interesting things to say about the comics form in general."
Simon Hacking

"5 Stars... a superb exhibition."
Time Out

"...a major new international festival devoted to sequential narratives."
Flux