joi, 13 martie 2014

Europa SF: “French and Romanian Comics in Focus” by Ahrvid Engholm (Sweden)

Left: Ola Hellsten, artistic director of the Comics Library in  Stockholm
8-9th of March the Comics Library (Serieteket) of the Stockholm Culture House (Kulturhuset) arranged French Language Comics Days, with support from embassies and cultural institutions of France, Belgium, Canada, Romania as well as Swedish comics organisations.

There was a “prequel” the 6th of March in the Romanian Culture Institute in Stockholm (and also an event in Malmö), when the author and comics expert Dodo Niță lectured about the history of Romanian comics. More on that shortly.
French and Belgian comics have for a long time been very influential and popular. We just have to remind ourselves of Tintin, Asterix, Metal Hurlant, Lucky Luke, the Smurfs and much more. International guests during the Comics Days were Marguerite Abouet (France), Julie Delporte (Canada), Xavier Löwenthal (Belgium) and already mentioned Dodo Niță (Romania). Apart from lectures and panel debates there were a comics market, films and exhibitions.

Science fiction literature and comics as we know them today have evolved from the same popular mass-market publication environment, originally in the US from the 1930′s and on. As the pulp magazines wrote about spaceships and alien planets, sf fans like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the first true superhero, Superman, coming through space from the alien planet Krypton.
I know the pulps very well and read Superman as a kid (in Swedish “Stålmannen”, originally “Titanen från Krypton”, ie “The Titan from Krypton”, when it in 1940 began in the Swedish sf pulp Jules Verne Magasinet/Veckans Äventyr). I have of course read all the Tintin albums, the Asterix ones, and a reasonable chunk of the different comics from Metal Hurlant (“Heavy Metal” in English), especially as they were introduced in a wide way in Sweden in the 1980′s by the publisher Horst Schröder.

But I knew nothing about Romanian comics or any from – what we used to refer to as – the East Bloc, so Dodo Niță’s historicy lecture was of particular interest. He is the author of “Istoria benzii desenate romanesti” (The History of the Romanian Comics) covering the whole history of Romanian comics, and many other books on the subject. He also held a lecture Saturday the 8th titled “Tintin en Roumanie”, based on one of his publications dealing with how Hergé’s fictitious country Syldavia, in particular in the album King Ottokar’s Sceptre, is inspired by Romania. The Tintin book will shortly be published in a dual language Swedish/English edition by pioneer press in Sweden. Nita’s history lecture was in Romanian, translated to Swedish by Arina Stoenescu (of pioneer press), while his Tintin lecture was in French – the language he originally learned from comics! (He also speaks good English, I noticed from chatting a bit with him.)

As a young boy Dodo Niță could only find the comics approved by the then communist regime, until he as a student discovered the library of the local French language institution in Craiova where he lived. It had a wealth of French books – and comics. Since French is related to Romanian he could begin to pick up the language and was introduced to a whole new world, the globetrotter Tintin in particular!
Right: Arina Stoenescu, director of Pionier Press Publishing House

The comic book market in Romania today probably looks very similar to the market in other European countries. According to Dodo Niță there are somewhere around 50 Romanian comics artists active today, of which maybe 5-6 can make a living on it full time. The new era in Romania – for better or for worse – means that everyone has to compete for the comics audience, with all that this comes with.
But if a free market can be creative or if capitalism is just stupid, is an entirely different debate.

Ahrvid Engholm

More on "Europa SF" (

2 comentarii:

Anonim spunea...

Vad ca ati prezentat si imagini cu Pisica, adica artistul super cunoscut Ciubotariu - asta inseamna ca v-ati impacat si ati trecut peste polemici. Bravo, imi place sa vad asta - sper sa aveti in continuare o colaborare fructuoasa!

Dodo Niţă spunea...

Ar vrea Ciubi ca Pisica Spelata sa fie personajul sau!
Din nefericire, pentru el, Pisica respectiva este desenata de Constantin Jiquidi.
Bineinteles, nu voi inceta niciodata sa nu-l consider un autor de benzi desenate (chiar daca e unul mediu spre mediocru). El a realizat cateva albume care mi-au placut si banuiesc ca au placut la mai multa lume: Alex la Paris, Cipollino, Doxi.
Si daca va publica si alte albume BD, voi scrie despre ele, vorbind despre desenatorul Ciubi si nu despre "omul" Ciubotariu.
Acest lucru nu-l face insa pe Ciubotariu artist (nu este membru UAP si nu a participat niciodata la o expozitie de arta din Romania, doar de BD si mai ales de street art) chiar daca se auto-intituleaza el artist pe blogul mincinos denumit Muzeul Benzii Desenate.
Ciubotariu nu este deloc "super cunoscut" (asa se prezinta toti impostorii) - va invit sa comparati cronicile la BD-urile sale cu cele ale albumelor desenate de fratii Popescu, surorile Surducan, Tamba si altii din generatia sa si apoi mai vorbim.
In fine, nu exista nicio polemica intre mine si el, doar dihotomia intre victima si hot. Ciubotariu si-a insusit pe nedrept atat titlul de autor al Istoriei BD romanesti(si pentru asta ICR i-a bagat in buzunar aproape un miliard de lei) cat mai ales sute de planse originale de la Puiu Manu, Livia Rusz, Burschi, Nobilescu,Valentin Tanase, Matty, etc.
Cata vreme nu restituie aceste planse, ba mai mult, le-a scos la bisnitareala, dupa cum puteti citi chiar pe blogul sau, el se numeste hot si escroc si va avea de suportat rigorile legii.
Colaborarea fructoasa intre noi doi a durat zece ani si nu regret nicio secunda din acestia, dar este definitiv de domeniul trecutului. Nu poti sa fii prieten cu un om care te injunghie pe la spate.