Welcome to the second of our new ongoing posts From Our Continental Corresponent, Wim Lockefeer. Wim has been discussing comics in Belgium and elsewhere for some time and runs his own blog, the Ephemerist (he has just started posting there on a series of little books for children he collected years ago, with some lovely looking illustrations) We’re very pleased that Wim is taking some time out to share comics news from Europe with our readers that we might otherwise simply miss.
Flemish Comics Festival announces New Talent award
The city of Turnhout, home of the Flemish Comic Festival , recently announced that this year’s edition of the New Talent Award (or “Debuutprijs”) was going to Olivier Schrauwen for this book “My Boy”, published by Bries. This book, in English, tells the story of how a widowed man discovers he has a very small and very ugly son, how he tries to love him nevertheless, and the adventures they have together (reminds me just a bit of the animated Tom Thumb movie from a few years back – Joe). The jury, all members of the editorial staff of Stripgids, was quite impressed by Schrauwen’s graphical talents and international style.
(Cover to the Bries edition of My Boy by Oliver Schrauwen)
Schrauwen uses a style that’s reminiscent of old American newspaper comics, like Little Nemo or Krazy Kat. It’s as if he deliberately tries to make his comics look old, with a quite old-fashioned line and colours that look as if they’ve seen too much sun. The stories themselves bring to mind the fantastical strips that Winsor McCay created, but Schrauwen tends to be darker. His stories are nightmares, not dreams.
Earlier this year, the book also made it to the Angoulême festival’s shortlist, and it was only after being published in French by L’An 2 that a Belgian publisher picked up the book. As said, in English, because Schrauwen wanted to recreate the atmosphere of an old American newspaper strip. And also because this opens up a much larger audience (publishers in Poland, Denmark and Germany have shown interest).
(Page from My Boy, pinched from the ever-reliable Lambiek Comiclopedia)
It is clear that this book comes at the right time. I can easily see it published by Fantagraphics or Drawn & Quarterly, side by side with their collections of vintage comic strips. Now if only they would discover it (meantime you can order the Bries edition from the FPI webstore – Joe)
I don’t think the name Michel Regnier, or Greg, sounds familiar to a lot of you. Which is quite strange, since here is a guy who wrote almost 300 comic books (around 50,000 pages), worked with the greatest of the great (Franquin, Hergé, Goscinny, Hermann) and was responsible, along with people like Goscinny and Delporte, for the boom that the Franco-Belgian comic magazines made in the late sixties and early seventies.
(image pinched from Cool French Comics’ Luc Orient section)
The Brussels Comics Museum (CBBD) is currently staging a retrospective show about Greg (1931-1999), showcasing his enormous talent and above all the sheer volume of his work. He started out as a regular gag writer for Franquin, while also adapting Hergé’s Tintin books for a cartoon series on American television. For Pilote he wrote and drew the stories about the pompous anti-hero Achile Talon, who becomes extremely popular in France and Belgium for his long-winded way of speaking.
Greg’s most important, though – and the exhibition successfully shows this – for an enormous amount of series that he wrote for other artists (like Dany, Auclair, Hermann, Paape, Tibet, Derib, ou Vance) and for his 10-year stint as editor-in-chief for Tintin Magazine. During his “reign”, he completely changed the magazine from a dull and old-fashioned storybook to an exciting, modern comic magazine, publishing his stories in longer episodes and constantly giving new talent a first big break.
(poster for the Franquin exhibition at Autoworld)
If you happen to be in Brussels, go and visit the CDDB (and, while you’re at it, also visit the Franquin exhibition in Autoworld, which is still running until the end of April)