Friday, March 02, 2007

Bandes dessinées

That's what the French call comic books and strips, and it's a more accurate term than comic books and a less grating and pretentious one than graphic novels. The Ile noire blog discusses some recent bandes dessinées here and here, and even if your French is not up to par, you can enjoy the pictures.

On a related note, a reader of this blog suggested that I might post a comment comparing written with drawn crime. It was a fine idea, but I haven't read any crime "comic" books since my Batman and Superman days. That's probably because French readers and publishers take that particular art form more seriously than North Americans do, which means more offerings, more artists, more writers and more readers.
I think Belgians and perhaps the Dutch and the Finns as well may regard bandes dessinées as fit reading for adults. What about the U.K. and Australia? Any good crime bandes dessinées there?

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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Blogger ShellyS said...

Well, I don't think graphic novels sound pretentious. When a story with art is designed to be a complete, self-contained story it makes sense to call it that. Calling collected issues of comics "graphic novels" is a bit much, but it's a marketing ploy to attract people too "grown up" for comics or "funny books."

An excellent writer of comics crime noir, tho he mostly writes superhero crime solvers, is Ed Brubaker, who also does novels, I think. And he's doing an amazingly wonderful noir with an original, criminal protag with artist Sean Phillips, called Criminal. He was writing Catwoman and now Will Pfeifer who took it over is keeping up the noir aspect of the book nicely.

Also, the Spirit was recently revived, brilliantly, by Darwyn Cooke, for DC.

Mystery writer Greg Rucka writes comics, and now Brad Meltzer is doing comics, most recently reviving the Justice League of America for DC.

There are a fair amount of crime comic books being done these days in the US, some by Marvel and DC, but mostly from the smaller, independents.

March 03, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks very much for those names and titles. I'll look for all of them.

I suppose it's no big deal what one calls these books, but I'm still not comfortable with the term graphic novel. For one thing, I'm not sure that most work that is so called, no matter how full and rich, is sustained and comprehensive enough to deserve the name of novel. I mean, I've read and liked and been haunted by some of Will Eisner's stories, but they have seemed more like very well crafted short stories to me. OK, call Maus a graphic novel.

Maybe the problem is not that the term is pretentious, but that the gap between the number of true graphic novels and the number of comics that call themselves graphic novels is so large.

But perhaps I'll soon find out otherwise. To this outsider, graphic novel has less to do with literary and artistic form than it does with trappings: full-bleed color, moody atmosphere out the wazoo, and high cover prices.

It's an interesting phenomenon that the word comics has come to include stories that are anything but comic. I envy the French, because their term, bandes dessinées, is simple and equally applicable and accurate for Harvey Pekar and Spawn.

March 03, 2007  

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