What I learned from A to Z.

It’s May 1, 2015 and the April A to Z Blogging Challenge is completed. For those of you not knowing what that is, you blog in alphabetical order posts each day, minus Sundays for good behavior, from A to Z.

You can choose a theme or just seat of pants it. I chose comic book creators from around the world. Why? I grew up reading comics and I see them as being a part of why I read as well as I do, am as creative, and just plain goofy at times.

I learned a lot during the challenge, and not just about comic books, comix, albums, manhua, manga, or any other names they are called, oh yeah, Komiks.

I learned geography, cultural history, world history, societal influences. All of this learned while researching comic books. Each nation had commonalities that one might be surprised about. Comic books are treated differently depending on where you are in the world.

In the US they are still seen as a children’s book. They are far from that now. Very far. In other parts of the world they are seen as art work, graphic literature, which is what I like to call comic books, and they are not always about superheroes.

If I were teaching right now I would use an A to Z format to give students a way to learn those aspects I mentioned learning earlier. By researching something they are interested in, sticking to the challenge without wavering, and marking the countries, regions, provinces, or cities you visit, you learn a great deal, and through that joy of learning you remember those things as well as realizing learning can be fun.

Some will think I am stretching how much I learned about geography, cultural history, world history and societal influences but I’m not. Graphic Literature is a way people express themselves. Through fictional superheroes a person can tell a controversial societal or political issue using a down and out weakling who becomes a hero and then fights against the superficial popular hero who is really fake and a sham and scam underneath.

That’s how one gets  away with telling certain stories in countries where one might be imprisoned or executed if coming out against the ruler of the nation.

Through this challenge, one I decided on at the last moment, and had no real idea of a theme until the very last moment, I’ve come to realize some priorities in life.

It’s no longer April, but I encourage any of you to do this challenge even now. But let me give some advice. If you are going to do an around the world thing, be careful. Some of those letters are tough to find people. Not many places for the letter X.

I’ll leave you with some last images of a book that was one of my favorites books, Ruse, by a company called CrossGen, which is now owned by Marvel Comics. A book about a Sherlock Holmes type character with a female Watson type. Powers in the book, yes, but one of the most beautiful pieces of artwork series ever.

ruse-1

ruse-inside-artruse

Much Respect

Ronovan

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Kiss, A Zambia Cartoon? What?

It’s the final day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and we’re in Zambia. Home of the Cartoons. Okay, so maybe not THE cartoons, but they do have their cartoonists and I’m going to share a few with you.

As you may expect from cartoonists, there is a bit of political satire. Satire is grounded in truth but with a touch of humor added to get the point across.

First up is a name I couldn’t resist, Kiss Brian Abraham.

We are concerned with Social Justice, we want to see a world in which mutual respect and justice prevails.
We provide support to organisations that want to make a positive difference in society. Our objective is to increase technical capacity of organisations, providing administrative support, increasing visibility of their work and their message by providing media services and support in development of Information,Education, Communication materials.~From KBA Innovations.

 He’s a cartoonist with a mission and a quest of equality.

k-1

This was after a government official, well I’ll just say it, stupidly said it was okay to beat wives because you loved them, or so that was the way it was from where he came from.

 

k-2

I like this one. It fits in every nation on earth.

Well, there you have it. One whole month of comics and cartoons. Here at the end of the alphabet it got a little thin with the number of people but then I didn’t want to get into the political stuff too much for this challenge. As I expand, perhaps on another site, I will include everything I find but for now, you got what you got and that’s all I got to give.

Much Respect

Ronovan

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US to KSA to Kids and Women’s rights. The Yemen cartoonist.

Sometimes an article doesn’t end up as it begins. I search for artists of Graphic Literature and am successful. But when I find them, sometimes I get a lesson beyond cool looking pictures and novels that I can see and interpret with very few words to get in the way of my imagination.

Take Maizin Shuja’a Al-Din of Yemen.

With the aim of entertaining and educating children, Shuja’a Al-Din publishes comics that discuss different issues including child labor, early marriage and education.

Newspaper publishers do not appreciate cartoonists in Yemen, Shuja’a Al-Din says. However, the lack of appreciation makes him “more determined to continue his work.”~yementimes.com

y-1There is also Arwa Moukbel, a young female cartoonist. Now that’s a rarity in Yemen. She likes to speak her mind but her family keeps her in check so as not to, I guess basically get herself imprisoned or worse. Not exactly a lot of freedoms there.

y-2

Rashad Al-Sameai is probably one of the most if not the most popular right now. The former psychology studies 30 something year old creates from his heart and writes about bad habits and things that speak to the people. I’m not exactly certain what his work says so I’m not going to display it here. One somewhat popular comics site actually erased the text from a cartoonist’s work  before putting it on their site, not Al-Sameai. But I would rather just not display it than alter it. If I can translate it at some point I’ll share it. But I do know he champions the rights of women and children.

Finally, Kamal Sharaf, actually spent a month in prison for, being forcibly removed from his home in 2010 after he challenged the then president Ali Abdullah Saleh. He still satires, and challenges. And even challenges the current president at times.

y-3I think a big part of what Yemen cartoonist have a problem with is how other countries like to stick their noses in and treat the country like it belongs to them. I get that. Depending on the government at the time, you could be taking your freedom into your own pen. Imprisonment, death threats, and basic fear for family are common thoughts each day as these cartoonist deliver messages in one panel that a whole news show or book can’t explain. And you know what? You’ll remember the images.That news show? Not a chance.

I plan to expand this one a lot more as I find more cartoonist, have more time, and translate what I find.

Much Respect

Ronovan

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Manhua, the original Manga. The ladies of Taiwan-A Creative Force.

I thought we would go to Taiwan today. One of the great things about this project of around the world in Graphic Literature is discovering the terms used for the medium. I call it Graphic Literature and comic books at times. I use Graphic Literature to explain what comic books mean to me. They aren’t simply funny books or superhero books. With award winning authors scripting the books, there is more to them than many, most people think.

In Taiwan comics are called manhua, meaning impromptu sketches. The term began in 18th century China and later was called manga in early 19th century Japan.

One thing I’ve discovered while researching for this is that the art is not always the stereotypical art we in America think of as manga. To me, I think what makes manhua or manga or books that is, fit into those two words is the life the art takes on. You can look at a picture and see movement even in a person standing still. No, it’s not evident in every picture but that’s what I see in most.

Another thing is that unlike American comics, manhua and even manga isn’t all about superhero antics. Most are about life, about normal people put in extraordinary situations or even basically a TV show in Graphic Literature form.  If it happens in life, it happens in manhua. That’s one thing about manhua and manga and even many European countries, the comic is an art form, not a children’s entertainment. The adults realize the importance of creativity and art.

Today won’t have a lot of background content of the authors and creators as there is a language barrier that I don’t have the time at the moment to work on. But I do have plans for detailed articles around the world and a site to go with them. When that time comes, it will have more to share.

But let’s look at the industry itself now. Big problem. Japan. It’s easier to bring in Japanese manga. For years Manga was pirated in with language changed and some extra art over nude areas added. Then pirating was made illegal in Taiwan and enforced. There is still the problem of creating a strong local industry when it is so easy to import. This forced the king of pirating, Tongli Comics to go legit and create original work as well as obtaining legal rights to import and distribute Japanese manga.

I’ll give a quick list of some Tongli artists/creators.

Beginning with some female creators:

Lai Ann.

lai ann

 

Nicky Lee/Li Chung Ping

Nicky Lee is what one would call the Fashion Manhua queen I suppose. Her books tend toward that look and are done quite well. She has a huge following.

nickylee

nicky lee The One
Nicky and a young fan.
theone
The One. Or at least a panel of an issue.

 

Jo Chen

I’m putting a few more images here because, well, AWESOME. Why? American connections to some geekdom moments for me. You’ve got Buffy the Vampire Slayer cover art, Robotech, to me the best ever. Yes, I’ve got all threes series on DVD. Don’t hate me because I get my geek on. And Racer X of Speed Racer fame.

You really have to have the desire to be a storyteller to be a comic book artist. The desire to draw cartoons or superheroes isn’t enough. In fact, the skill to draw is almost secondary. You must first want to tell stories. Once I started down that path, there was no looking back. I was hooked.”~Jo Chen

jochen2jobuffy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robotech
Robotech
Racer X
Racer X

I-Huan

rfp

Some of the artwork and titles.

knight-princess
Knight Princess
enchanted
AKRU-Enchanted Tale of Formosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll leave it at that for today. I  have obviously missed out on the very important manhua in Taiwan’s history but like I said, I will be devoting more time to it.

 

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1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhua

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tong_Li_Publishing

3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lai_Ann

4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicky_Lee

5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jo_Chen

6 http://jo-chen.com/engpage/interview_fandom.htm

7  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yi_Huan

Apartheid and Publishers: The bane of South African Comic Creators.

Researching South African Graphic Literature history has been an interesting adventure. A big think I discovered is a great deal of the comics were photo comics early on. Actors would be in the positions of what Americans and Europeans would normally see as drawn panels. Text balloons would then be inserted.

There are rare examples of illustrated comics, and I’ll mention those as I discover them. Yes, I write as I discover as opposed to research then writing. You get to ride along with me as I get excited or disappointed, depending on what I find.

For instance, here is the first illustrated book I found.

mm1Mighty Man. This was Soweto’s version of Superman. Sounds like a good idea, right? The book was about a black policeman who is shot, then healed by some beings from beneath the earth and given powers. All good so far. But the point of the book was to have the blacks during apartheid basically subliminally, from an early age, given the thoughts that going against the rules of the white government was wrong, they should stay in their place, there should be no guns owned by blacks, and it just keeps going.

Back up stories were about local folklore and sports figures. Any efforts by the Americans involved in the creation were slapped down. They worked for the company and did the book. Even when not agreeing with what the books overall message was.1In truth the book was more a propaganda and advertising scheme.

fairest-tb-2I also found a great writer in Lauren Beukes.2 A writer of novels and and TV scripts. Her selection to write Fairest3 for Vertigo4, and imprint of DC Comics says a lot. Fairest is a spinoff of Fables, a highly acclaimed series. Fairest is about the women of fairy tales set in different situations and with actual lives. These aren’t fairy tales.

Beukes arc in the series, The Hidden Kingdom, deals with Rapunzel traveling to Tokyo to take care of a mystery from her past.

Next I stumbled upon a piece by Nobhongo Gxolo who speaks with a couple of South African creators.5 First there was Moray Rhoda, illustrator, designer, and writer. One piece comic fans may have heard of is Velocity, a Graphic Novel anthology with contributing creators. He shares a frustration with another up and coming creator, Loyiso Mkize, illustrator and writer of Kwezi, about a 19 year old cocky guy who suddenly has powers and how he handles it.

velocitykwezi

The frustration they have is distribution. Local publishers don’t want to invest, not seeing the potential local home grown comics have. Most books are Indie Books in South Africa with any mass published being from the US or Europe. Local creators have more interest from places like US who get what is being done and see the talent of the artists.

“The artwork is definitely international level, but the storytelling is not there”~Rhoda

The artwork gains attention across the ocean, much like many other countries, but the writing is the problem.

“There’s also the fact that as I got older I learned to appreciate the role of superheroes in young people’s minds: positive, encouraging and inspiring.”~Mkize

Comic strips, humorous and adventure were ongoing from the early 20th Century onward. I don’t mention the names here because I honestly am not certain how appropriate some might be considering the way the government segregated society so harshly.

When I begin a more comprehensive series I will include all that I find, but for now enjoy what we have here today. Talent. A lot of it, but with no local publisher support.

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References

Return To Mighty Man
1 http://southafricancomicbooks.blogspot.com/2011/10/sowetos-super-man-mighty-man-and-mid.html

Return To Lauren Beukes
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauren_Beukes
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairest_%28comics%29
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertigo_%28DC_Comics%29

Return To Rhoda and Mkize
5 http://mg.co.za/article/2015-02-27-return-of-the-african-superhero
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#Japan #Manga from #AstroBoy to #FullMetalAlchemist Awesome! #AtoZChallenge

 

JThere was no way I could do a series about comics and not head to Japan. For some Japan is comic books in a true art form and engrained in culture unlike anywhere else in the world. Where many and most societies look at the art form as a child’s funny book, in Japan the books are graphic art presentations of literary art forms for all ages with the books being anything from childlike humor to corporate room cutthroat business. If it happens in society it can happen in comics, but kicked up to a sensational level, just as you would find in the best novels on the market.

atoz-map-flags-j

Many of you have heard of the word Manga, but do you know what it means?

Katsushika Hokusai1

Hokusai was an artist during late 18th and early 19th century Japan with the use of would block carvings to use for printing, coined the term during one of his many name changes. He changed his name as he changed his style. In 1811 he began what would be known as the Hokusai Manga, with manga meaning “playful sketches” to describe his humorous images. The forms were created with simple lines and made for increased production. This new form brought him even more fame and a great many students.

The most famous of his Manga work would be his 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. As you look at the art below, think of how this was first cut into a wood book in order to be used to make prints.

The_Apparition_of_Mt_Fuji_on_the_5th_year_of_Korei.

This was not the first instance of what might be  called comic books for Japan. In the  mid 18th Century you would find what were called Kibyoshi or yellow books. These were satirizing of politicians and society in general. They were eventually banned and the edge taken off of the wit.


Following Hokusai the West came to Japan with Commodore Perry in 1853. With him came Western art forms and influences that found their way into Japan’s own art culture.2

By the 20th Century a new art form was beginning to take shape.

Rakuten Kitazawa

Yasuji (1876-1955, maybe), his real first name, is considered by many as one of, if not the father of modern Manga due to his influence on those who came later.3  His early career was influenced by Australia artist and cartoonist, Frank Arthur Nankivell4, who would leave Japan for the US and fame in his own right working for the first successful American humor magazine, Puck5.

Kitazawa created the satirical magazine Tokyo Puck. You can see the influence Nankivell had in the name. The artwork here, especially in the panel on the right is beautiful. I might at some point devote an article per creator some day.

tokyo-puck-art

Following Kitazawa we have another “father” of Manga. One that may be closer to what the West knows of as Manga.

Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) was a cartoonist, animator and more. When you think of Tezuka, think Japan’s Walt Disney6. That literally is what people have called him, and rightfully so. All I really need to say is Astro Boy.

newtreasureisland-cover.s600x600In 1944, at the age of 16, still in high school, Tezuka was drafted into WWII and work in a military factory where he would spend as much time as possible drawing, often on toilet paper. He witnessed first hand the results of the Osaka fire bombing. This would stay with him for the remainder of his life.7

Inspite of the military, he graduated and went on to medical school, but didn’t give up Manga. His first published work was The Diary of Ma-chan (1946). But then it happened. 1947 and we see New Treasure Island8 sell over 600,000 copies. Think about that. Just after WWII, devastated, and along comes something to give the people excitement. Tezuka introduces a cinematicastroboy-cover story telling style of Manga that is what we know of today.

Then it really happened. 1952 and a minor character in his Ambassador Atom series was given his own series due to young fans love of him. Astro Boy9 ran from 1952-1968. It’s doubtful many people realize what the book is about. I mean as far as those in the west. Prejudice. The rights of robots, now a sentient class, and how they are treated.

pk-shojoclubAlthough Astro Boy may be his most famous work, one work I was very interested in was Princess Knight10 (1953-1956) and its various sequels. Why? The book is recognized as perhaps the first fully realized Manga for girls, as in theme and starring, although not the actual first one. But it was the first to really make an impact on society. Truthfully, I would love to get my hands on these stories. Even more than I would the original Astro Boy.

Eventually, Tezuka turned to animation and developed the first weekly animated show in Japan, Astro Boy. All financed by him in a studio builttezuka-blackjack next to his home.

Tezuka lost his animation studio and his rights to Astro Boy. Those with the company didn’t like scraping by and thought others could do better. Years later the company closed. After it did, oddly offers came to Tezuka. And a rebirth began for him. in Blackjack11.

Now you may understand why some call Tezuka the father of, the god of Manga as well as the godfather of anime.

Now to someone working these days and thus a little shorter in biography.

Hiromu Arakawa12

Hiromu Arakawa is a manga artist responsible for what has now become a classic, Fullmetal123Fullmetal Alchemist. As the daughter of a dairy and potato farmer, Arakawa dreamt of life other than cows. But she agreed upon graduation from high school to stay and help with the farm for seven years.

Seven years later, Tokyo. She eventually became the assistant of HiroyukSilver_spoon_mangai Etō of Mahōjin Guru Guru13. Her first paid solo professional work was the award winning Stray Dog in 1999. She’s had several hits, but Fullmetal Alchemist14 is the one most noted for and the last I could find she is working on is a non-fantasy manga called Silver Spoon15. Manga is usually in the vein of fantasy, at least these days I suppose, so there was so hesitant acceptance of Silver Spoon but now it’s another hit. And that is why she’s included today. That stepping out, taking a chance, and changing the expectations of what manga can be.

 

Go back to Ireland by clicking the letter below or the link.

Ireland from Paddy to Ennis, this country has it all.

I

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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References

Return to Hokusai 1
1 http://www.katsushikahokusai.org/biography.html
 
Return to Hokusai 2
2 http://manga.about.com/od/historyofmanga/a/mangahistory1.htm
 
Return to Kitazawa
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rakuten_Kitazawa
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Arthur_Nankivell
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puck_%28magazine%29
 
Return to Tezuka 6-8
6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osamu_Tezuka
7 http://tezukainenglish.com/wp/about-tezuka/about-tezukas-life/tezukas-life-1928-1957/
8 http://tezukainenglish.com/wp/osamu-tezuka-manga/manga-m-s/new-treasure-island-manga/
 
Return to Tezuka 9-11
9 http://tezukainenglish.com/wp/osamu-tezuka-manga/manga-a-h/astro-boy-manga/
10 http://tezukainenglish.com/wp/osamu-tezuka-manga/manga-m-s/princess-knight-shojo-club-manga/
11 http://tezukainenglish.com/wp/osamu-tezuka-manga/manga-a-h/black-jack-manga/
 
Return to Hirimu Arakawa
12  http://fma.wikia.com/wiki/Hiromu_Arakawa
13 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C5%8Djin_Guru_Guru
14 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_Alchemist
15 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Spoon_%28manga%29

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Denmark, Superman and Valhalla? Okay. #AtoZChallenge

All links open in this page for the convenience of screen readers of the blind and the visually impaired.

If you are participating in the challenge, if you will put a link to your post for today in a comment below I will make sure to visit you and my readers can too. There are so many out there I know I am missing some of my friends. I’ll keep putting this message in each day just in case.

 

DDenmark. Never thought about comics from there before. But now I know. Several for you to read about today. From those who gave comics a rebirth in the country in the 1970s to the more recent crop of creators, I give you a taste of them all today.

atoz-map-d



Peter Madsen

peter-madsenPeter Madsen was born in 1958 and is partly responsible for the rebirth of the comic book valhallaindustry in Denmark. He is primarily known for his work on the albums of the comic Valhalla. Madsen was not alone invalhalla-cover the new wave of comics Denmark in the 1970s. He had help from editor Henning Kure and fellow cartoonist Rune T. Kidde. Valhalla is so popular, the books were turned into an animated film which Madsen do-directed.

But Madsen would not have been involved with Valhalla and who knows where he might have ended up if not for, editor and writer Henning Kure.


 

Henning Kure

henning-kureHenning KureHere is the translation of his wikipedia page. (born 11 December 1953 in Hoptrup) is a Danish comics creator, writer, editor and mythologist. Worked as editor for Inter Press in 1974-1988, where he greatly influenced the development of comics in Denmark. From 1995-2009 he was manuscript editor at Egmont producing series for Disney’s Donald Duck Jumbo books, which he himself has supplied scripts.

Initiator and one of the driving forces behind Valhalla comic, which he has both worked as an editor and writer. The seventh volume as lead author. Kure also helped to translate the series into an animated feature films.

Kures children’s book Troll story also appeared as a picture book in collaboration with Rune T. Kidde and drafter of Valhalla series, Peter Madsen. The TV series Trol Therein is based on the universe and characters from his Troll story.

Kure also work as a story-doctor for several Danish writers, including Jussi Adler-Olsen.

As a mythologist and self-taught Norse philologist, Kure has researched and developed several new interpretations of Norse mythology, which include described in scientific articles and in the academic paper In the beginning was the scream. Conceptual thought in the Old Norse myth of creation.


Rune T. Kidde

rune-t-kiddeRune Torstein Kidde was born in 1957 and of all the creators today he was perhaps the most maddeningly creative one, with a sad twist for an artist. He’s been mentioned above in the previous two creators’ entries. I will give some of his other works. Part of what I found interesting with Kidde was his editing. He edited The Phantom and Beetle Bailey. He also worked with Mort Walker as well as Will Eisner, of course. Walker is an of course because of Beetle Bailey.

I mentioned a sad twist to Kidde’s career. He lost his eyesight in 1990. You would think he might have slowed down. Through instruction to friends who were artists he kept working in illustrating, but even greater was his work in radio for children’s programming as well as writing books of poetry, prose, biographies and family histories. Also he was an accomplished folk singer and musician and even had a role as an actor. He passed away in 2013.


 

Peter Snejbjerg Nielsen

Peter-SnejbjergPeter Snejbjerg Nielsen was born in 1983 and is a freelance artist who currently resides in Copenhagen, Denmark. He studied at Kolding Kunsthåndværkerskole, which translates to Kolding School of Design, located in Kolding, Denmark.
book-of-m

His career began in 1986 with Rune Fleischer, writer and artist. What some of us may know him from are things like Hellblazer with writer Garth Ennis and The Books of Magic, all at Vertigo Comics. Also Animal Man, Starman and Adventure Comics at DC Comics.

You may notice how Nielsen uses the style of drawing in comics called ligne claire or clear line that I have mentioned before pioneered by Hergé of Belgium. It’s not so much the style but there is the lack of hatching. Many artists have gone the way of a more painting feel to their works which would do away with the hatching technique. There is a certain fluid style and feel to Nielsen’s work that I do like. But when in something like Batman, I do like the hatching style to give a grittier feel.


Teddy Kristiansen

Teddy_2Teddy Kristiansen is an Eisner Award winning painter/artist most known here in the United States for his work on The Sandman Midnight Theatre by Neil Gaiman, as well as his award winning Superman Supermangraphic novel with writer Steve Seagle, It’s A Bird through DC/Vertigo.

 

reddiaryHe has also done work for Dark Horse on Grendel Tales and did an English translation of The Red Diary through Image Comics. I like the contrasting styles we see between Nielsen and Kristiansen. With the artists from Argentina, with their being so close and even teacher and student you have similarities. Here you have two very different approaches.



 

Next we have the letter E. Who will they be? Where will they be from? I have no idea at this moment.

Click below for Croatia. Or you can just clink this title-Croatia brings us Chess and Comics. Who knew that first one?

C

 

 

 

 

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Belgium and those little blue guys. #AtoZChallenge

All links open in this page for the convenience of screen readers of the blind and the visually impaired.

BToday we visit Belgium for a look at comic creators from around the world.

One you will know but not even realize it. But you’ll have to wait for that one. Belgium has a great history in what I will call the graphic art of storytelling.  Their history begins in the 1920s with youth publications and church newspapers. They share greatly with the French and French creators through one of their two languages.


Jean-Michel Charlier

“The coward think of what they can lose, the heroes of what they can win.”

Jean-Michel-CharlierBorn in Belgium Charlier was a writer who later died in France. During his lifetime he created one of the most dominant comic series of the 1960s throughout Europe. Along with French artist JeaBlueberry-Giraudn “Moebius” Giraud, he created Blueberry (1965-1990), a western comic set in the American West with an atypical cowboy hero. He wasn’t a lawman or out to get the girl. He happened to be in a place at a time and did what needed done. “When I was traveling throughout the West, I was accompanied by a fellow journalist who was just in love with blueberry jam, so much in love, in fact, that I had nicknamed him “Blueberry”. When I began to create the new series, and everything started to fall into place, I decided to reuse my friend’s nickname, because I liked it and thought it was funny. […] I had no idea that he would prove so popular that he would eventually take over the entire series, and later we would be stuck with that silly name!“~Charlier. He had been sent to Edward Air Force Base on assignment.

Charlier was the writer of Buck Danny (1948-1988), Redbeard (1961-1991) as well as many others. What I find interesting is the Belgian method of a series. Apparently it is tradition the writer and artist team continues until one either passes of the series is over. If one passes the series ends. Fortunately, Charlier had chosen successors for his works. There is a quality of these books that I am highly impressed with and has my fingers itching to write comic book scripts again.


 

Hergé (Georges Prosper Remi)

“I’m a dreadful egotist. I draw for the child I was and still am. If Jacques Martin or Bob de Moor has a good idea, I convince myself completely and forever that it was mine.”

Herge-TintinHergé was born in 1907 and passed away in 1983 in Belgium. He is seen as the pioneer of a style of drawing in comics called ligne claire or clear line. Although an artist he was also a writer. His art worked with his writing to create the stories he told. Tintin-mainCast

His most famous work is The Adventures of TinTin. Although a much loved and popular series of the 20th Century it did have its detractors for its racial stereotyping. “I was fed the prejudices of the bourgeois society that surrounded me.” Some of his early work had to be altered depending on the market it was to be distributed in. The series has been on radio, TV, and movies.
hatching

The art style, ligne claire has influenced many. Think of a Batman comic with simply lines and paint rather than shadows on the face created by what is called cross hatching.

One particular standout to me is Geof Darrow who has worked with a previously mentioned creator, Frank Miller. One collaboration, Hard Boiled won the Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist in 1991. But how does Hergé connect to something you might know today?

After his work on Hard Boiled a team know as the Wachowskis asked him to do some concept work for a movie called The Matrix. Darrow receives screen credit in each movie.


It is impossible to do a comic piece on Belgium and not mention this next man.

The man known simply as:

Peyo

“He remembers a meal he had with his friend André Franquin (Marsupilami) when he’d wanted to ask Franquin to pass him the salt. But he couldn’t remember the word so he says: “Pass me the … uhm … the smurf!”. Franquin hands it over and answers: “Here’s the smurf. Once you’ve smurfed with it you can smurf it back to me!” And so the name and language of the little imps were invented…”-From Smurfs.com

PeyoPierre Culliford was born in 1928 in Brussels and passed away in 1992 in Brussels. Belgian from beginning to end. Why Peyo? A cousin mispronounced his name and I guess he liked it. He first worked for an animation studio but when it shut its doors he wasn’t accepted by another place that took his friends in. Thus began a career in print.

Johan_and_Pirlouit_PeyoWhile working for Le Soir, a newspaper, he created Johan. Later when hired for Spirou published by the same company, Dupuis, that had refused to hire him before, he continued Johan as Johan and Peewit. This was in 1952.

smurfs-sheetIn 1958 a creation came about in Johan and Peewit that would become  cultural phenomenon in the future. The first Smurf was introduced. The Smurfs became so popular Peyo started his own studio.

The rest is history. I am certain some of you have seen the Smurf cartoons, and the Smurf movies. And all because a young man wasn’t hired by a company as an animator when the doors shut on his previous employers studio.


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