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The Roving Comic Book: Exchanges, Transfers, Circulation

La bande dessinée vagabonde : échanges, transferts, circulations

« Mémoires du livre / “Studies in Book Culture” » - volume 14, Number 1, Fall 2022

« Mémoires du livre / “Studies in Book Culture” » - volume 14, numéro 1, automne 2022

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Published on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 by Sarah Zingraff

Summary

After their emergence in the nineteenth century, comic books quickly became an important vehicle for transnational exchanges. This issue of Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture proposes a multi-disciplinary study of the cross-cultural transfer and circulation of comics. The notion of “transfer” is understood here in a broad sense, as a process in which objects, ideas and practices are transferred across two or several cultures.

Announcement

Editors

  • Maël Rannou (Université Paris-Saclay)
  • Philippe Rioux (Concordia University)

Argument

After their emergence in the nineteenth century (Smolderen 2009), comic books quickly became an important vehicle for transnational exchanges: Siegel and Shuster’s Superman, published from 1939 in Spirou, was hastily completed by Jijé in 1941; a European version of the Catholic Québécois magazine Hérauts consisting entirely of American content appeared from 1948 to 1952; in 1969, the magazine Charlie Mensuel was launched in France with a design and content directly inspired by the Italian Linus, created four years earlier. More recently, the porosity of national borders is apparent in the significant and long-standing presence of manga in Western markets, which has given rise to a number of innovative hybrid formats. For example, Les Légendaires (Patrick Sobral, Delcourt) and La Rose écarlate (Patricia Lyfoung, Delcourt) combine a Franco-Belgian format with manga’s graphic codes (Suvilay 2021, and the Indigenous artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas blends manga with traditional Haida imagery. Such crosspollination can be seen in a number of other countries—in Brazil, for instance, the manga scene began as early as the 1970s, with the work of Japanese-born author Cláudio Seto. Also noteworthy is the increased hiring of European and South American artists by major publishers of American comic books (JL Mast, Marcos Martin)—and, indeed, of mangas (Tony Valente)—and the creation in sub-Saharan Africa of studios that are keen to combine comic book codes with local mythology, including Zébra Comics in Cameroon, whose sales are, for the most part, in the United States.

This issue of Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture proposes a multi-disciplinary study of the cross-cultural transfer and circulation of comics. The notion of “transfer” is understood here in a broad sense, as “a process in which objects, ideas and practices are transferred across two or several cultures” (Meylaerts et Lobbes). More precisely, it assumes a modification or a reinterpretation of objects: “To transfer is not to transport, but rather to transform” (Espagne 2013). In addition, for this process to take place, it is essential for there to be contact among cultures, which often occurs through well-established distribution networks. It is important, therefore, to retrace the itineraries of comics and to put these itineraries in the perspective of globalization (Crane, Kawashima, and Kawasaki 2002). While paying particular attention to transnational and transcultural distribution, this issue will also address the underlying exchanges that facilitate or result from the global circulation of comics: economic transactions, transfers of symbolic capital, transfers of technical expertise, and so on.

Topics

Topics to be examined might fall within, but are not limited to, the following categories:

Category I: The circulation of the objects

The “physical” distribution of comics is, no doubt, the most obvious way in which they circulate. How are comics (single works, series, publishers’ catalogues) distributed on small and large scales? What happens to them once they are in the hands of their readers? Are they re-sold, loaned, given away, destroyed?In a broader sense, how do comics move from one cultural milieu to another? How do foreign corpuses intermingle across geographic, linguistic, logistical, moral, and other barriers? What role do festivals, exhibitions, and the institutions that finance them play in this process? From international publishing agreements to archival acquisition policies, what are the mechanisms that allow for the physical circulation of comics—as objects?

Category II: Adaptations and transformations

If it is true that, as Michel Espagne and Michael Werner put it, a cultural object must undergo a “transformation of its meaning” (Espagne 2013) in order to truly move from one cultural arena to another (Espagne and Werner 1988), then adaptation strategies must play a primary role in the exchanges, transfers, and circulation of comics. In what ways do these strategies affect the various components of comics: the illustrations and texts (sometimes touched up or censored), but also paratexts and supporting media, which are closely linked to the commercialization and consumption of these works? By what means do publishing media move from one arena to another? How do the materials that accompany the adapted works (publicity, critiques, press kits) affect their reception? Along the same lines, what is the impact of readers and their engagement with comics—whether through the publication of letters to the editor, the production of fanzines, or the posting of reviews on the Internet—on the expansion or the distribution of their contents (scanlations, unofficial translations, and fan fictions that incorporate existing versions)?

Category III: Aesthetics and imaginative dialogue

Recent studies of popular literature have shown that the trend toward globalization in the early twentieth century resulted in the creation of transnational arch-texts that could be adaptable to various markets (Letourneux 2020). By extending this observation to the comic book domain, we can examine the ways in which a producer or consumer’s cultural arena affects how they engage with different publishing formats (graphic novels, comics, manga, etc.). More broadly, we are interested in reception and re-creation processes that propagate myths about certain characters. We need only think of, for example, the “Fabrique des héros” collection (Les Impressions Nouvelles), which studies the most famous characters in serial and trans-medial fictions. Questions about classification (autobiography, documentary, superhero comics, etc.), which are intimately linked to questions about the reception of objects, appear to be equally important. How is the circulation of new genres reflected in the filing and promotional systems of public libraries and points of sale? If exposure to transnational influences is essentially the norm for authors who have grown up in a globalized world, in what (sometimes secret) ways do works circulate in countries led by authoritarian regimes (the Eastern Bloc, the People’s Republic of China, Argentinian juntas, and Imperial Japan, among others)? Finally, what kinds of creative encounters take place in comics today? To what degree have these blended or hybrid forms been shaped by the proliferation of creative and distribution processes, especially digital? In short, how do the aesthetic traditions and imaginative domains of distinct communities with one another, in and around comics?

Submission Method

This call for papers is open to researchers in all disciplines (e.g., literature, history, library science, economics, education, political science). Interested scholars are asked to send a 300-word proposal together with a 100-word biographical text to

philippe.rioux@concordia.ca and maelrannou@lilo.org

before May 15, 2022.

Authors will be notified of acceptance or refusal by May 30, 2022 at the latest. Completed papers, between 25,000 and 60,000 characters in length (including spaces and notes) should be submitted by November 1, 2022 and will be published in Spring 2023.

Bibliography

Caraballo, Laura, and Jean-Paul Gabilliet, eds. “BD, comics, historietas, quadrinhos: les circulations transnationales de la bande dessinée au sein de l’espace américain”. IdeAs. Idées d’Amériques. (2022): https://journals.openedition.org/ideas/12035.

Crane, Diana, Nobuko Kawashima, and Ken’ichi Kawasaki, eds. Global Culture: Media, Arts, Policy, and Globalization. London: Routledge, 2002.

Espagne, Michel. “La notion de transfert culturel.”, Revue Sciences/Lettres, no. 1 (2013): http://rsl.revues.org/219.

Espagne, Michel, and Michael Werner, eds. Transferts. Les relations interculturelles dans l’espace franco-allemand (xviiie-xixesiècles). Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 1988.

Labarre, Nicolas. Heavy Metal, l’autre Métal Hurlant. “SF Incognita” collection. Bordeaux: Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, 2017.

Lacroix, Yves. “La bande dessinée dans les journaux québécois (1930–1950). Un inventaire.” La Nouvelle barre du jour, no. 110–11 (1982): 101–9.

Lesage, Sylvain. L’effet livre. Métamorphoses de la bande dessinée. Tours: Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2019.

Lesage, Sylvain, and Jean-Paul Gabilliet. “Angoulême and the Ninth Art: From Comics Fandom to Cultural Policies.” Journal of Comics and Culture, no. 5 (2020): 69–89.

Letourneux, Matthieu. “Incidence des supports dans les mutations des imaginaires sériels. Le cas d’Eichler et des dime novels européens.” Belphégor. Littérature populaire et culture médiatique 18, no. 1 (2020): https://journals.openedition.org/belphegor/2629.

——. “La disparition du genre des mystères urbains.” In “Les Mystères urbains au XIXe siècle: circulations, transferts, appropriations,” Médias 19, edited by Dominique Kalifa and Marie-Ève Thérenty (2015). http://www.medias19.org/index.php?id=17039.

Mazur, Dan, and Alexander Danner. Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present. London: Thames & Hudson, 2014.

Meylaerts, Reine, and Tessa Lobbes. “Transfert.” In Le lexique socius, edited by in Anthony Glinoer and Denis Saint-Amand. http://ressources-socius.info/index.php/lexique/21-lexique/55-transfert.

Sabin, Roger. Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art. London: Phaidon, 2001.

Smolderen, Thierry. Naissances de la bande dessinée. Brussels: Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2009.

Suvilay, Bounthavy. Dragon Ball, une histoire française. “ACME” collection. Liège: Presses universitaires de Liège, 2021.

——. La culture manga. “L’Opportune” collection. Clermont-Ferrand: Presses universitaires Blaise Pascal, 2021.

Event format

Full online event


Date(s)

  • Sunday, May 15, 2022

Keywords

  • bande dessinée, échange, transfert, circulation, littérature

Contact(s)

  • Judith Haviernick
    courriel : mdl-sbc [at] usherbrooke [dot] ca

Information source

  • Anthony Glinoer
    courriel : mdl-sbc [at] usherbrooke [dot] ca

To cite this announcement

« The Roving Comic Book: Exchanges, Transfers, Circulation », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, https://calenda.org/987584

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