The first dynamic start in publishing was, with an american famous comic character, not Superman but Mickey Mouse. He gave his name in 1934 to the weekly "Journal de Mickey" before being stopped by the anti-american nazi "culture" to come back in 1952. Meanwhile, some publishers were courageous enough to print a few american comics. But some colours of ink were missing, that's why, out of the blue, the Phantom had a red outfit instead of the regular purple one. American pages couldn't arrive sometimes, that's why the young Albert Uderzo, who would later become a star with "Astérix", created some nice "Captain Marvel Junior" pages. But most of the magazines were not respecting comics so you wouldn't have find more than one comic page inside.
Then a couple of crazy guys from Lyon, Pierre Mouchot and Marcel Navarro, started to publish cheap black and white comic books right after war. But the people thought that you had to be from the lowest class and mentally weak to read this. No time to enjoy, censorship attacked in 1949. A law to protect the young readers was created this year. It still exists in our days and you'd better respect it!
During the 50's, the belgian publishers were doing better: professional stuff, colors, funnies and adventures. But reading comics was like doing drugs, you'd better hide yourself. On the other hand, there was enough different titles and not many authors so you could have made a lot of money by doing this job. At that time, comics were only for kids and organized like restrooms: some for girls and others for boys.
In the 60's, things changed very slowly. Marcel Navarro started to publish marvel super heroes in the late sixties, it was super exciting for the readers, even if it was printed in two colors. But the censorship freaked out by seeing violence everywhere! That's why these comics always had most of their elements erased for decades.
But at the same time, the saviour of the french comics world started to fight: René Goscinny was with the "Mad" team from New York in its earliest days. Back in France, he took every risk by publishing young hippies, who became the french kings of the comicdom, and classic comics by the best professional artists. They were both published in "Pilote", perfect name, that was a weekly for the youth that the adults started immediatly to steal from their kids. He wrote "Astérix", "Lucky Luke" and more mighty series that were the first ones to be respected by the medias. Just by treating comics with respect, he made them become "adult".
In the 70's,the ungrateful but talented hippies from
"Pilote", trying to "kill the father", created "Fluide Glacial", "Métal
Hurlant" and many more titles. You would find hardcover books and comics
magazines, weekly, monthly, any size, black & white or colorful, cheap
or fine, american, french, italian, spanish, porno stuff for truck drivers
and cute stuff for the innocent kids, boys and girls, political, funny,
serious, action, adventure, fine art, religion,
Then arrived the sad and cold 80's. René Goscinny
died during his first medical check-up so Big Brother could do his job
very well. I was in Angoulême [site of the biggest comics festival-MK.]
when mister institutional Number one, the president of french republic,
François Mitterrand made his speech. To show how left winged he
was, he declared "the art of comics is an official art". A good instinct
made me feel bad. So what did the publishers do? Art! "Pilote" became a
tasteless thing with intellectual pretension for the "mature" bourgeoisie,
the magazines were all losing their
But you could suddenly find comics art schools. When I think of my teachers who hated comics so much... I must admit that every ex-comics student that I met had a high-level of technique. But most of them had no desire, no ambition, well, no talent. They are not doing comics anyway, there is no room for them and TV cartoons are a better job.
You could also see the rise of comics museums and fine exhibitions in respectable places, some real treasures of original artworks are collected and preserved. But how many pages are you able to read when they're framed on a wall? Most of the people never enter a museum anyway.
In the 90's, it was okay for a small minority who could publish without readers by having money from the ministry of culture. Some of these comic books are brilliant because they don't have to respect commercial rules. But since their creators claim themselves independent, I would rather see my taxes spent for schools and hospitals. Meanwhile, many publishers went bankrupt and it was the game of who buys who. Every publisher was crying that the comics didn't sell while releasing tons of useless comic books. Then began the kingdom of the turnover and the dictatorship of the marketing.
Today, "Titeuf" from Switzerland invades the environment, millions of sales, TV cartoons, video games, toys, advertising... Same for "Kid Paddle" from Belgium. Only stuff for kids, the same kind that has been refused since 20 years! No one answers in the publishing companies. Every one is afraid to lose his job and the shareholders are no editors at all. The publishers don't even care about comics because that's not the level where their business is working.
So now the ministry of culture doesn't give money anymore,
you have these different possibilities as a french cartoonist, your talent
does not matter, it's just a question of opportunity:
It's time for the french comics world to open his eyes and watch the real world. I begin to have new hopes by communicating with the right guys all over the world but the situation stays hard: Big Brother is watching you but can not read comics, too many words. Big Brother hates comics. Je dis merde à Big Brother! Gardons espoir !
[Spider now responds to my remark about the US comics market being (for the type of books I enjoy) "finished ", and to my question: "I don't suppose things are any livelier anywhere else? ($)."]
|...I agree but maybe that's what they want us to believe.
Aren't they hiding something they know about $? From here, I've never seen
so many titles in our american comic shops, so many different publishers,
so many licensed products like action figures, tv shows and movies. In
french comic shops, it's funny too: 2 or 3 series are huge sellers but
there's never been so many different publishers and this never ending wave
of new releases before. These publishers are often going bankrupt fast
or are bought by their concurrency. But they wouldn't exist if the comics
market was really finished. It looks just like the gold rush!!!
There is no real market but there still are "customers". They don't know who these customers are, what they want, but they try to get their money. We have this strange thing called marketing that invaded publishing in the 80's. It destroyed the market. Before that, these mysterious customers were called readers and they weren't so anonymous. René Goscinny, but also Stan Lee or William E.Gaines, knew what meant the difference between a market and a readership: the readership shall always be considered first or the market can not exist. We need editors. But now that the european graphic novel format seems to be the choosen one, writers and cartoonists can and have to be their own very talented editors.
That's why I dreamed of teaming with you as I also think that you could bring something new to a non-american publisher. And I wish that I could work for an american publisher for the same reason.
And now that comics are supposed to be recognized as art -it's not so true- you can create any kind of artwork. Because this is true,
I hope that you'll see what I mean: our national cultures are treasures while our national business is killing us. The international business is on since a long time and the international artworld doesn't reply. The international comics world has to wake up and take a good look outside, without fear. Et voilà tout, non?