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European Comics are criminally underrated (Rageaholic video)

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Trond:
Razorfist is right in this one. European comics are too often overlooked, despite often being superior in the amount of work and artistry that went into them. American comics are sometimes great (Brubaker & Phillips anyone?) but tend to be too dominated by superheroes if you ask me. As far as Manga goes, I tried to get into it years ago, but never could. Too many cutesy faces, monsters that are basically blobs, and stories that (to me) make no sense.

By comparison, try e.g. some of the stuff by Marini for brutally good brutality (Eagles of Rome) or Cosey or Hugo Pratt for more introspective stuff.

Video here:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVsmxJYSZVI

Shrieking Banshee:
Oh Il agree on this point as well. Its also near impossible to find good translations for some things. I can like Elves, Dwarves, and sci-fi all I like, they will not get continuation past 36.

Reckall:

--- Quote from: Trond on July 29, 2022, 06:08:56 PM ---Razorfist is right in this one. European comics are too often overlooked, despite often being superior in the amount of work and artistry that went into them. American comics are sometimes great (Brubaker & Phillips anyone?) but tend to be too dominated by superheroes if you ask me. As far as Manga goes, I tried to get into it years ago, but never could. Too many cutesy faces, monsters that are basically blobs, and stories that (to me) make no sense.

By comparison, try e.g. some of the stuff by Marini for brutally good brutality (Eagles of Rome) or Cosey or Hugo Pratt for more introspective stuff.

Video here:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVsmxJYSZVI

--- End quote ---

(WAVES!)

As a European comic creator, I can fully agree that "La Bande Dessinées" is a primary reference point over here. However, that video is somewhat superficial. As someone who worked (and it is working) for different European markets (including the French one) I have some things to add. I'll try to be brief, as many essays could be written on the topic.

- Soleil, the first publishing house mentioned in the video, almost killed the whole French marked single-handedly when, in the early 2000s, they started to flood the comic book shops with cheaply produced books. A lot of high quality books suddenly hadn't the exposure needed to break even: after a week they were buried under a new wave of Soleil comics. Consider how a high-quality comic book usually takes from six months to one year of work and you will see how many creators started to wonder if it was worth the effort.

The answer from some other publishing houses was to flood the market themselves, compounding the problem. This happened when the reading habits were changing: today it is difficult for someone to wait 6-12 months for the "next episode". One answer is to publish self-contained stories - but the classic French comic is only 46 pages long and you can do only so much with them (for France I wrote a three parter and a two parter), and still this doesn't solves the low exposure problem. A partial solution was to publish the whole series at once: 3-6 volumes coming out at the same time, Netflix-style. This meant, however, that a publishing house had to produce the whole series before knowing if it was successful.

The decline in the average quality was so marked that, for the first time ever, mangas became really popular in France. Before this crisis the French only read French comics, today it is estimated that the French market has permanently lost 30% of its sales to mangas. Many major publishing houses now have both a manga label and a label of manga-style comics produced in France (a friend of mine - actually one in my CoC group - has two manga-style projects in the works for France; I'm revising the texts but I don't plan to do mangas of any kind ever).

- Moebius created the visual basis for Blade Runner with "The Long Tomorrow" but he was already working as a visualist for "Alien". Anyway, if you mention Moebius, I agree that the "Blueberry" saga is a masterpiece; however you can't not to mention the pinnacle of his work, L'Incal, written by Alejandro Jodorowsky. A five parter for which "The Long Tomorrow" was the dry run.

- If you mention the influence of the French comics on the US film industry, especially SF movies, then don't forget Jean-Claude Mézières - whose works were robbed by basically everyone (until Luc Besson gave him formal recognition with "The Fifth Element" - which he did alongside with Moebius). And you can't really mention Moebius without mentioning Caza (who, BTW, is an avid "Call of Cthulhu" player and contributed with some illustrations to the French 30th Anniversary Edition).

- "No one does Western like the French". ?? Hello? Italy? Tex Willer among many? "Spaghetti Western" was born in Italy and influenced the Italian comic book market before it reached France (the US Westerns, however, already had a strong influence: the earliest Western comics were published in the 1950s). More generally speaking, if there is one thing that the French learned from the Italians, it was the quest for historical accuracy - no matter the genre and the era.

- What about Italy? - part two. The Italian comic book format is smaller than the French one and usually in B/W. The exception are the "Giganti" - Giant Format - who are as big as the French format but still 224-300 pages long in B/W; I wrote four, with one of them being published six years after I finished the script; drawing is slow. In the "Giganti" more experimentation is usually allowed. The page count for the average "book format" comic book, however, still ranges from 94 pages to almost 300. The stories I'm writing now are 154 pages long and I write one a year (because I always diversified my work and especially now I'm doing a lot of things). I would like to link one but that would amount to doxxing myself, so you have to believe me :D The small format still doesn't deter artist from pulling some stunts.

Italy has a lot of problems with the French market: they want Italian artists (like Manara and Pratt), have more problems with writers (due to the language barrier) and the imports are almost nil. Italy, however, dominates the Latin countries (South America included), the Balkans and Turkey. There was an attempt at "spaghetti manga", but a benevolent god looked down and killed it.

- There was a moment, between the 1950s and the 1990s when Italy produced 70-80% of all Disney comics (the rest being covered by the US, Denmark and Brazil). They were produced by Mondadori Editore under license until in 1985 Disney Italy was formally founded. The pinnacle was the creation of W.I.T.C.H. in 2000. Mismanagement and other factors led to a stunning collapse in quality - even if not across the board. One of the last nails on the coffin was when WINX surpassed W.I.T.C.H. to the point that the latter was made irrelevant (I was there, as I was working for other Disney comics when they asked me to write for W.I.T.C.H. After two meetings I ran away. I'm still under NDA about that one). Disney Italy is still producing very good comics for the international market, mostly centered on Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, which is most beloved (the main reference for the latter and his world is still Carl Barks) but Disney never regained its golden years status.

So, you want to discover the wonderful world of Italian comics? Too bad, as they seldom are translated in English (the only exception being Disney comics and artists that have a breakout in the French market - like Pratt, Manara and Barbucci&Canepa). Other artists who started in Italy are now working in the US - drawing US scripts. There were some experiments in the 1990s but, IMHO, badly put together. Other scattered attempts over the years never gained a foothold. Same with Germany and Northern Europe (again, Disney Italy is a different matter up there). If you speak Spanish, Portuguese, any Balkan language or Turkish I can give you some pointers. My current publishing house is now trying to reach the English international markets with a more organised effort. We will see.

Bonus: Talking about influences, this page was inspired by a famous story by R.E. Howard. Which one? (I have read this comic book and the plot is totally different - an "ancient astronauts" story - but when I saw this I thought "Wait a minute..." :D The writer confirmed, the artist was clueless).

Trond:
Reckall, that’s interesting, feel free to do some shameless self-promotion here.

I always thought of European comics as such, European (mostly continental), not only French. Some were French, others Belgian, Italian or Spanish. Growing up I usually bought my books translated to Norwegian (if I was lucky) or Danish (who are thankfully pretty big into comics), with just a few original titles produced in Norway or Denmark.

By the way, some English translations are censored, one I noticed personally was “the Scorpion” by Marini, where breasts etc. have been covered in the English version.

Lurkndog:
European comics really are good, but in the US it is difficult to actually purchase them legally.

I like Henk Kuijpers' Franka, for instance, but there are no English translations, and they are expensive and hard to import.

Even internationally famous works like Moebius's The Long Tomorrow and Airtight Garage are out of print in the US.

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