The Arrival: launching the Comics Studies section at the Library of the Faculty of Communication Arts

Comics Studies Chulalongkorn
Launching the Comics Studies section at the Library of  the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, with a first selection of comics-related essays and graphic novels.

It was about time to launch a modest Comics Studies section at the Library of the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. First part of the inaugural order has already arrived with Hillary Chute’s Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form and Graphic Women: Life Narrative & Contemporary Comics, Barbara Postema’s Making Sense of Fragments: Narrative Structure in Comics, Matt Madden’s 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style, Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening, Thierry Smolderen’s The Origins of Comics: from William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, Thierry Groesteen’s Comics and Narration and The System of Comics, Neil Cohn’s The Visual Language of Comics: Introduction to the Structure and Cognition of Sequential Images, and the comics Deserter’s Masquerade by Chloé Cruchaudet and The Arrival by Shaun Tan. These books join the dozens of comics, manga, graphic novels and essays already available in Chula libraries; most of them are listed on THIS PAGE of our blog. More to come soon!

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“The Smurfette Principle” and “Whitewashing in Film” topics in Knowledge Comics form by Chulalongkorn students

The Smurfette Principle and Whitewashing in Film topics in Knowledge Comics form; group assignment following the lesson on Critical Tradition (Introduction to Communication Studies GenEd course developed by the Faculty of Communication Arts) and the lesson on Multimodal Narratives (Visual Media Studies GenEd course developed by the Faculty of Communication Arts) hosted by the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University).

Smurf Belgium Thailand
“2018 not only celebrates 150 years of Thai-Belgian friendship, it is also the 60th anniversary of the Smurfs,” the small blue human-like creatures who were first introduced in the Belgian comics series titled Johan et Pirlouit (translated to English as Johan and Peewit) in 1958 by Peyo [Pierre Culliford; 1928-1992]. The Smurfs have been selected as the icon of the Thai-Belgian friendship celebration.

On the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of Friendship between Belgium and Thailand and after introducing the Belgo-Palombian character Marsupilami in graphic narratives to denounce a case of black panther poaching in Thailand (see students’ comics HERE), students were invited to revisit another famous -and much scrutinized- Belgian comics character: Smurfette (or Schtroumpfette in the original version)!

Thai (and foreign) Chulalongkorn students from the two courses mentioned above were asked to create short graphic narratives (2 to 4 pages) on imposed topics related to the Critical Tradition which challenges “the control of language to perpetuate power imbalances by exploring the way communication establishes, reinforces and maintains power structures in society” (see Denis McQuail, McQuail’s Reader in Mass Communication Theory, Sage Publishing, 2002). With a vast majority of Asian and female students in my courses, the Smurfette Principle and Whitewashing in Film topics seemed to be appropriate and meaningful choices. The latter topic addresses the under-representation of minorities in the media, and more specifically the Hollywoodian habit of casting white actors to play non-white characters while disregarding the -mostly comics- source material (see articles by Steve Rose and Keith Chow). Infamous recent examples include Tilda Swinton casted as a Himalayan mystic in Doctor Strange, Emma Stone casted as a Chinese-Hawaiian character in Aloha, Scarlett Johansson playing a Japanese cyborg in the live-action feature Ghost in the Shell, or British actor Ed Skrein who decided to step down from his (half-Japanese) Ben Daimio’s role in the upcoming reboot of Hellboy. Criticism on cultural appropriation and whitewashing has also been raised towards Wes Anderson’s latest feature Isle of Dogs (see here).

“In its original sense, ‘whitewashing’ meant covering or cleaning something up. In today’s cultural landscape, it is a stain that won’t rub off. Now, ‘whitewashing’ describes the habit of casting white actors to play non-white characters, often to shoehorn in a star, sometimes out of racial insensitivity, invariably to the detriment of people (and especially actors) of colour.” Steve Rose in “The idea that it’s good business is a myth’ – why Hollywood whitewashing has become toxic”, The Guardian (source), 2017.

Dadu Shin WhiteWashing
Illustration by Dadu Shin for “Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?”, The New York Times (source), 2016.

In line with the Feminist Critical Tradition which criticizes communication content and practices that perpetuate patriarchal hierarchies and ideologies, The Smurfette Principle was coined and defined by poet and essayist Katha Pollitt in 1991 in the New York Times as a practice in fiction to include only one stereotypical female character in an otherwise all-male cast (see quote below).

“The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys.” Katha Pollitt in “Hers; The Smurfette Principle”, The New York Times (source), 1991.

Smurfette attributed to Peyo
Original artwork attributed to Belgian cartoonist Peyo [Pierre Culliford; 1928-1992].

 If Katha Pollitt bases her criticism on the Smurfs animated TV series, the Smurfette character was first introduced in Peyo’s A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette serialized in Spirou magazine (Dupuis, Belgium) in 1966 and written by Yvan Delporte [1928-2007] and Peyo [Pierre Culliford; 1928-1992]. The Smurfette was created from clay by evil wizard Gargamel in order to launch a feud in the all-male Smurf village. The recipe’s ingredients (see Fig. 2; “Sugar and spice, but nothing nice… A dram of crocodile tears… A peck of bird brain…”, etc.) used by the wizard present themselves as an appalling and misogynistic list of personalilty traits. Let’s point here that the recipe is accompanied by an asterisk leading to a footnote (see Fig.1 ). In the French edition (but I don’t know if the footnote was already in the first serialized publication), the footnote reads “This text only represents the views of the author of the grimoire ‘Magicae Formulae’, Beelzebub Publishing” (my translation). The 1976 English further relieves Delporte and Peyo of any responsibilities which are rejected on the “Male Chauvinist Pig Wizards” Incorporation…

Male Chauvinist Pig Wizards
Figure 1. Footnotes accompanying the French and 1976 English editions of A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette.

Nevertheless, the Smurfette’s origin story raises more criticism. Smurfette first appears with unruly black hair, a large nose, basic dress and slippers (see Fig. 3). Feeling miserable because of her physical appearance and lack of attractiveness, she undergoes an “operation of plastic smurfery ” [sic] at the hands of Papa Smurf to become a blonde Smurfette -inspired by French actress Brigitte Bardot- with shortened nose, curled eyelashes, gown and high heels; she is now “one of a kind, full of feminine grace and frivolous. She can also be very much a woman, playing with the feelings of her sweethearts” (from Smurfette’s official bio quoted in Jason Richards’ The Problem With Smurfette). Turned into an “object of desire” and with stereotypical feminine personality traits, Smurfette -and the male Smurfs themselves by competing for her attention- will bring even more trouble in the village soon to be flooded. Let’s add, to be fair, that Delporte and Peyo do not depict the male Smurfs from their best angle either; they do not save the day (except for the more tempered Papa Smurf) and are made laughable -and “identical”- by their hazardous and idiotic behaviour.

Smurfette 12
Figure 2. A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette by Peyo, page 12, written by Yvan Delporte and Peyo, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, 1976. First serialized in French in 1966 in Spirou magazine (Dupuis, Belgium). ©Peyo/IMPS/ Dupuis
Smurfette 13
Figure 3. A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette by Peyo, page 13, written by Yvan Delporte and Peyo, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, 1976. First serialized in French in 1966 in Spirou magazine (Dupuis, Belgium). ©Peyo/IMPS/ Dupuis
Smurfette 28 29
Figure 4. A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette by Peyo, 3 last tiers of page 28 and 2 first tiers of page 29, written by Yvan Delporte and Peyo, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, 1976. First serialized in French in 1966 in Spirou magazine (Dupuis, Belgium). ©Peyo/IMPS/ Dupuis

The character of Smurfette evolved positively -albeit quite slowly- over the past decade; becoming the leader of the Smurf village in the 2010 adventure La Grande Schtroumpfette, or an airplane pilot on the outside paint job of some Brussels Airlines’ Airbus A320.

Smurfette brussels airlines
Smurfette as an airplane pilot on a Brussels Airlines’ Airbus A320.

The imposed format was “knowledge (or educational) comics” in order to explore the ability of text/image (multimodal) narratives to condense and convey a large amount of information in a limited space of only a few pages. See quote below.

“Just like diagrams, info-graphics, and other forms of science visualizations, comics use words and pictures to convey information, however they also divide the information into panels [McCloud, 1994] which can facilitate the reading experience and highlight important information, such as parts and processes [Mayer and Gallini, 1990]. Furthermore, comics not only break down the information into more digestible units but can also reassemble them into meaningful compositions […]. As summarized by comic scholar and educator Nick Sousanis: “the spatial interplay of sequential and simultaneous, imbues comics with a dual nature — both tree-like, hierarchical and rhizomatic, interwoven in a single form” [Sousanis, 2015]. In other words, comics can be read linearly, panel by panel, but also lend themselves to non-linear explanations, encouraging the reader to constantly reassess earlier panels in the light of new information. Similarly, science often requires readers to make connections between multiple scales and domains of knowledge, not necessarily arranged in a hierarchical, linear order. In conclusion, while comics are often perceived as an easy and playful format, they may be exquisitely suited at presenting complex information in a rigorous yet accessible way.” Matteo Farinella, “The Potential of Comics in Science Communication”, in JCom Journal of Science Communication 17/1 (source), 2018.

Examples of “knowledge comics” provided to the students included the excellent series La Petite Bédéthèque des Savoirs (Le Lombard, Belgium) which presents itself as “pocket-sized hardcover educational books on subjects as varied as artificial intelligence, sharks, heavy metal, and the history of prostitution. Each volume in the series is written and drawn by a different writer and artist pair. Internationally-renowned experts in the fields work with comics luminaries for a unique alchemy every time” (source). Some volumes are available in English by IDW Publishing under the series title “The Little Book of Knowledge”. Other references were Nick Sousanis’ doctoral dissertation in comics form Unflattening, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing by Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon.


The Smurfette Principle and Whitewashing in Film Knowledge Comics by Chula students

Chichi 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Grace, Chichi, Ping, Pang and Nene. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Chichi 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Grace, Chichi, Ping, Pang and Nene. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Chichi 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year CommDe students Grace, Chichi, Ping, Pang and Nene. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Noey 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year BALAC student Noey (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Noey 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year BALAC student Noey (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Noey 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year BALAC student Noey (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Taew 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/2) by 4th year BALAC students Taew and Petch (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Taew 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/2) by 4th year BALAC students Taew and Petch (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

 

 

Daria 01
“The Smurfette Principle” comics (page 1/2) by 3rd year INDA student Daria Dmitrieva (INDA: International Program in Design and Architecture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

 

Daria 02
“The Smurfette Principle” comics (page 1/2) by 3rd year INDA student Daria Dmitrieva (INDA: International Program in Design and Architecture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

 

 

Tung 01
“The Smurfette Principle” comics (page 1/2) by 3rd year CommDe students Tung, Tee, Mint and Mean. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Tung 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/2) by 3rd year CommDe students Tung, Tee, Mint and Mean. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Fern 01
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Fern, Pun, Oom, Bank and Lukpear. March 2018.
Fern 02
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Fern, Pun, Oom, Bank and Lukpear. March 2018.
Fern 03
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Fern, Pun, Oom, Bank and Lukpear. March 2018.
Joy 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Joy, Plye, Sunny and Nana. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Joy 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Joy, Plye, Sunny and Nana. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Joy 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year CommDe students Joy, Plye, Sunny and Nana. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Ploy 01
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Aom (P), Ploy, Mim, Mind and Tang. March 2018.
Ploy 02
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Aom (P), Ploy, Mim, Mind and Tang. March 2018.
Ploy 03
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year CommDe students Aom (P), Ploy, Mim, Mind and Tang. March 2018.
Shi 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Shi, Kris, Aom, Wakako and Gem. March 2018. NOTE: Panels 1 and 2 refer to Jeffery P. Dennis’ 2003 essay Queertoons: The dynamics of same-sex desire in the animated cartoon where the author states that the Smurfette “was introduced specifically to provide an object for the Smurfs’ heterosexual desire and defuse conjectures that they might be ‘really’ gay”. This claim has been subjected to criticism. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Shi 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Shi, Kris, Aom, Wakako and Gem. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Shi 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year CommDe students Shi, Kris, Aom, Wakako and Gem. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Natt 01

Natt 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 3rd year CommDe students Natt, Cartoon, Nich and Champ. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Natt 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 3rd year CommDe students Natt, Cartoon, Nich and Champ. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.
Natt 04
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 3rd year CommDe students Natt, Cartoon, Nich and Champ. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

The Smurfette origin (exploring elements from the Semiotics lessons: symbol, icon, connotation…).

Prim 01
“The Smurfette Origin” Comics (exploring elements from the Semiotics lessons: symbol, icon, connotation; and with a nod to Ibn al Rabin’ silent comics), page 1/3, by 1st year CommDe students Prim, Proud, Pauline, Pop and Suang. March 2018. Based on characters created by Peyo.
Prim 02
“The Smurfette Origin” Comics (exploring elements from the Semiotics lessons: symbol, icon, connotation; and with a nod to Ibn al Rabin’ silent comics), page 1/3, by 1st year CommDe students Prim, Proud, Pauline, Pop and Suang. March 2018. Based on characters created by Peyo.
Prim 03
“The Smurfette Origin” Comics (exploring elements from the Semiotics lessons: symbol, icon, connotation; and with a nod to Ibn al Rabin’ silent comics), page 1/3, by 1st year CommDe students Prim, Proud, Pauline, Pop and Suang. March 2018. Based on characters created by Peyo.

A satirical take on the Smurfette Principle starring Pepper Potts and Tony Stark (aka Iron Man).

Eve 01
“The Smurfette Principle” satirical comics (page 1/4) by 1st year CommDe students Byrd, Eve, Bask, Fahsai and Mild. March 2018. Based on the Tony Stark/Iron Man character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and on the Virginia “Pepper” Potts character created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.
Eve 02
“The Smurfette Principle” satirical comics (page 2/4) by 1st year CommDe students Byrd, Eve, Bask, Fahsai and Mild. March 2018. Based on the Tony Stark/Iron Man character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and on the Virginia “Pepper” Potts character created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.
Eve 03
“The Smurfette Principle” satirical comics (page 3/4) by 1st year CommDe students Byrd, Eve, Bask, Fahsai and Mild. March 2018. Based on the Tony Stark/Iron Man character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and on the Virginia “Pepper” Potts character created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.
Eve 04
“The Smurfette Principle” satirical comics (page 4/4) by 1st year CommDe students Byrd, Eve, Bask, Fahsai and Mild. March 2018. Based on the Tony Stark/Iron Man character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and on the Virginia “Pepper” Potts character created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.

 

 

#VforVersion(s): alteration of foreign language text in a transformative constrained comics exercise

#VforVersion(s); alteration of imposed comics pages in foreign language -to the participants- (German edition of British creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd‘s V for Vendetta, and original edition of French cartoonist Lewis Trondheim‘s Psychanalyse) by partial deletion with white-out liquid of textual elements -such as sentences, words, letters or letter parts- to form a new text in English language which would be consistent with the unaltered pictorial sequence.

V02 copy
Fig 1. A. – Tier from the 1988 American color collected edition of V for Vendetta by DC Comics/Vertigo (original text). B. – Tier from the 2003 German edition of V for Vendetta (V wie Vendetta) by Speed Comics, with black and white pages as serialized in the 1982 original British edition. C. – Same tier of the German edition but with partial alteration (elements of the text are whited out) by Thai student Mon to form English words and sentences. D. – Same tier as before but with Mon’s selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Credits: V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art) with colors by Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Doods and David Lloyd.

1. Introduction

April 2018. The 62 students of the Creative Writing for Printed Matter course (sections 10 and 11; “Graphic Writing”) at the International Program (BA) in Communication Management (Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok , Thailand) were provided with a series of imposed comics pages excerpted from the 2003 German edition of V for Vendetta (1 to 3 pages depending on section), of the 1996 edition of Lewis Trondheim‘s Psychanalyse (2 consecutive pages in French language), and of the American edition of the ongoing manga series Sunny by Japanese cartoonist Taiyō Matsumoto (2 consecutive pages).

“Ajarn [teacher], where do you find all the ideas you torture us with every week?”

Student Gam during the in-class assignment. Answer: Oupus series, OuBapo FB page, and my tortuous mind.

Winsor McCay Melissa Eddings Mancuso.jpg
A remarkable example of white-out text alteration by Melissa Eddings Mancuso for Matt Madden’s online course about constraints for The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In a comic strip from the series Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (launched in 1904) by Silas (aka Winsor McCay), Melissa “looked for names of body parts in the original dialogue and then simply whited out the other letters,” providing us with instant poetry.

Under a “transformative constraint (which alter existing works)” students -in teams of 2 to 5 participants- were asked to do a partial alteration of the written texts, by erasing/covering with white-out liquid some textual element in order to form new sentences which would be consistent with the unaltered pictorial sequence. Additionally, students had to compose English (words and) sentences by respecting the order of appearance of the selected letters (or groups of letters). The most painstaking -if not painful- aspect of the exercise was related to the pages in German and French languages, two foreign languages that participating Thai and exchange students do not speak. If text alteration constraints aren’t new in Literature or Comics Art (see Lettrism, Tom Phillips, blackout poetry, cut-up techniqueTNT en Amérique by Jochen Gerner [Fig 2], OuBaPo), the use of texts written in a language not spoken by the participant(s) seems to me less usual (as far as I know). The inability to understand the content of the foreign text and the constraint to propose an altered text in a mastered language (here English) are indeed quite a radical restrictions.

Text 04.jpg
Students Pat and Nymph whiting out fragments of text from imposed pages of Taiyō Matsumoto’s Sunny and Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta to create new narratives.

Even if German, French and English languages share the same Roman script (with sometimes additional letters) and if they share numerous cognates (or words with a common etymological origin) as neighboring Indo-European languages, these cognates have taken different forms (such as “colleague” in English, “collègue” in French and “Kollege” in German). Unable to use cognates (or false cognates or false friends) unless sharing identical spellings, participants are thus forced to compose English words (and sentences) with smallest units of writings like graphemes or syllables (or digraphs or larger groups of successive letters). In the first illustration (Fig 1), student Mon was forced to the radical alteration of the German sentence “Den Zorn, der Feuer vom Himmel regnen liess.“(Fig 1B; That Wrath which did rain fire from the Heavens) to compose the English clause “No lie” (Fig 1 C, D). Participants also came to appreciate (sigh) the different ratios of vowels and consonants, as well as the different frequencies of letters and syllables, in German, French and English languages… Students noted the low frequency of the vowel ⟨o⟩ in German (2.594%) compared to French (5.796%) and English (7.507%). Consequently, the newly formed English sentences tended to be quite short. Using V’s theatrical tirades (and Alan Moore’s verbose writing) was truly convenient in this regard. Let’s note here that the high frequency of the vowel ⟨e⟩ and ⟨d⟩, ⟨o⟩, ⟨t⟩) in French language will be put to good use by students Por and Jean in their hilarious story “DOT” altering pages of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse (see Fig 5). Accidentally and to the delight of the French speakers, the two students ended their narrative on an English-French false friend word (and within the purest Lewis Trondheim tradition). Quite a revealing slip of the pen, would have said Freud and Lacan.

Text 07
Students Belle, Fame and Prim whiting out fragments of text from imposed pages of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse, Taiyō Matsumoto’s Sunny and Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta to create new narratives.

The two main objectives of this exercise under radical restriction were: first, to prevent the participants from relying to much on familiar words and clauses that could be used without much alteration; second: to ensure that the altered text would be a complete creation with a new set of meanings, not influenced by the original content of the written text (as its meaning isn’t understood by the participants who don’t speak the language in which it is written) but mostly by their own interpretation of the visual sequences they are imposed with. The accompanying visual sequence is an additional productive constraint which led to the selection of possible themes and story-lines. The alteration of the comics pages excerpted from Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse -a proto-OuBaPian comics itself using the constraint of iconic iteration applied to only two different panels (see below)- was in this respect less productive; the minimal visual “context” complicated the selection of a theme or concept (within the allocated time). However, it led to the brilliant “DOT” story by students Por and Jean (see Fig 5). The challenge was, as I said, painstaking -if not painful at times (sorry, kiddos!)- but the resulting pages were worth the effort, filled with comics poetry -if not Poetic Justice- and concert tickets for AC/DC (see Fig 20)…

Additional comments on the constraints:

  • The choice of V for Vendetta pages was made for several reasons: first, as a nod to the Master Class held two years ago during this course by V for Vendetta‘s co-creator and artist David Lloyd; second, the pleasure to enjoy his starck chiaroscuro technique with masterful use of negative spaces, third; to make the use of Alan Moore’s verbose script in the process of extended deletion of text; fourth, because the graphic novel V for Vendetta is sadly as relevant now than it was then, moreover in current Thai context.
  • Time limit for the in-class assignment was 3 hours for section 10’s teams (with all three V for Vendetta pages to be altered) and 2 hours for section 11’s teams (with only one V for Vendetta page to be altered).
  • As mentioned earlier, many letters are not as frequent in German or in French as in English. To alleviate their suffering, students were allowed to tamper with some letterforms but only by reduction (deletion/erasing). The leg of ⟨K⟩ could be white out to form a ⟨Y⟩; same goes for ⟨R⟩ turned into a ⟨P⟩ (or even a ⟨D⟩). The diagonal stroke of ⟨Z⟩ was turned in a typographical slash (to form the slash in AC/DC). ⟨E⟩ could become ⟨I⟩ or ⟨L⟩ or ⟨F⟩; ⟨N⟩ turned into ⟨V⟩; or “NV” into ⟨W⟩ with erasure of the first stroke and some stretch of closure. Digraphs could be transformed into punctuation marks, such as “TR” into an ellipsis (“…”).
TNT en Amérique
Fig 2. Left: page from Tintin en Amérique (Tintin in America) by Hergé. Right: radical reduction (with only fragments of the original text remaining) of the Tintin page by Jochen Gerner for TNT en Amérique“.

“The main interest for me of the comic strip is the infinite possible links between text and image : a system of representation continually confronting , in a kind of alchemy, text and picture . This is the field I endeavour to explore on my own or with OuBaPo (Ouvroir de Bande dessinée Potentielle).
The idea ‘TNT en Amérique’ sprang from these remarks with OuBaPo, from exercises, experiments. I try to find new reading perspectives. I dismantle a given material to make something else of it.” Jochen Gerner (source).

  • The use of logograms was also allowed. With ⟨N’⟩ for “and”, ⟨C⟩ for “see”, ⟨U⟩ for “you”, ⟨R⟩ for “are”, etc. Usage of slang was permitted too. The slang shortnening “Da” for “the” was accepted as well as “De” for “the” as it remained consistent with the accent of a German character (see Fig 3: A.B. Frost‘s comics, #VforVomans!).
  • Lewis Trondheim’s handwriting in Psychanalyse tended to complicate the browsing of the text to find usable graphemes and words. However, some ambiguous handwritten letterforms were put at good use with some ⟨O⟩ used as ⟨D⟩ (or conversely), ⟨U⟩ as ⟨V⟩, or ⟨L⟩ as ⟨C⟩.
  • WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE [sic]. We do apologize for the use of graphic language in the resulting pages, but the high frequency of the letters ⟨F⟩, ⟨U⟩, ⟨K⟩, ⟨C⟩ or ⟨B⟩, ⟨I⟩, ⟨T⟩, ⟨H⟩ in German language led to the formation of some English swear words; that’s explanation I’ve decided to provide anyway… And yes, “underwear” was spelled “underware” (see Fig 22), because it’s how I pronounce it with my French accent, I guess… #PoeticLicense #PardonMyFrench #Sic
AB Frost 1
Fig 3. #VforVomans! American cartoonist A. B. Frost’s first comic: a German attempts to pronounce English-language “th” phoneme. “De man, dis horse, dose vomans!” In: Harper’s News Monthly, December 1879.

2. Results for Psychanalyse

Note on Psychanalyse. In the pages of his minicomic series ACCI H3319 self-published between 1988 and 1990, then-debuting French cartoonist Lewis Trondheim produced comic strips and single-page comics narratives relying only on the repetition of a photocopied single panel or a highly limited set of different panels. For instance, in the series of strips collected under the title Psychanalyse [Psychoanalysis] (by Le Lézard Noir, and later by L’Association), each comics page is built only with 4 different panels -but duplicated and arranged following the constraint of “iconic iteration”- presenting, in close-up, the minimalist depiction of a patient discussing with his psychiatrist (kept off-panel). Our transformative constrained exercise is thus applied to comics pages built themselves on proto-OuBaPian productive constraints.

Psy 00
Fig 4. CLICK ON THE PIC TO ENLARGE. Two imposed consecutive pages (in French language) of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse.
Psy Jean Por Ping
Fig 5. CLICK ON THE PIC TO ENLARGE. Same pages of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse but with partial alteration (elements of the text are whited out) by Thai students Por and Jean to form English words and sentences. Their “DOT” comics, accidentally and to the delight of the French speakers, ends on an English-French false friend word (and within the purest Lewis Trondheim tradition). “Bite” usually defines the “use the teeth to cut into something” in English, but can be a (vulgar) synonym of “penis” in French language. Quite a revealing slip of the pen, would say Freud and Lacan.
Psy ERIN.jpg
Fig 6. CLICK ON THE PIC TO ENLARGE. Same pages of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse but with partial alteration (elements of the text are whited out) by Thai students Erin, Misha, PingPing, Tanya and PunPun to form English words and sentences.

3. Results for V for Vendetta (excerpt 1)

V01
Fig 7. Page from the 1988 American color collected edition of V for Vendetta by DC Comics/Vertigo (original text). V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art) with colors by Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Doods and David Lloyd. Compilation ©2005 DC Comics.
V00
Fig 8. Same page but from the 2003 German collected edition of V for Vendetta (V wie Vendetta) by Speed Comics, with black and white pages as serialized in the 1982 original British edition. V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V Mon 01
Fig 9. Same page of the German edition of V for Vendetta but with partial alteration (elements of the text are whited out) by Thai student Mon (and his teammates Tap, Ik, Golf and X) to form English words and sentences.
V MON DEF
Fig 10. Same altered V for Vendetta page from the German edition but with Mon’s selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V NYMPH DEF
Fig 11. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Nymph (and her teammate Pat). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V VICKY DEF
Fig 12. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Vicky (with exchange student Marin). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V TONG DEF
Fig 13. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Tong, French Fries, Grace and Pim. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V NOINAE DEF
Fig 14. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Noinae, Paan and Boss. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

NOTE: more resulting altered pages of this first excerpt are displayed at the end of this post.


4. Results for V for Vendetta (excerpt 2)

V11
Fig 15. Page from the 1988 American color collected edition of V for Vendetta by DC Comics/Vertigo (original text). V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art) with colors by Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Doods and David Lloyd. Compilation ©2005 DC Comics.
V10
Fig 16. Same page but from the 2003 German collected edition of V for Vendetta (V wie Vendetta) by Speed Comics, with black and white pages as serialized in the 1982 original British edition. V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V2 NYMPH DEF
fig 18. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Nymph (and her teammate Pat). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V2 POON DEF
Fig 19. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Poon (P), Poon (K) and Win. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V2 FRENCH FRIES DEF
Fig 20. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student French Fries (and her teammates Tong, Grace and Pim). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

“[V trying to get tickets for] an AC/DC concert: believable. Convincing scenario is essential in any storytelling…”

David Lloyd, V for Vendetta co-creator and artist, commenting on the previous page altered by student French Fries.

V2 MON DEF
Fig 21. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Mon (and his teammates Tap, Ik, Golf and X). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V2 NOINAE DEF
Fig 22. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Noinae, Paan and Boss. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

 

5. Results for V for Vendetta (excerpt 3)

V12
Fig 23. Page from the 1988 American color collected edition of V for Vendetta by DC Comics/Vertigo (original text). V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art) with colors by Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Doods and David Lloyd. Compilation ©2005 DC Comics.
V13 .jpg
Fig 24. Same page but from the 2003 German collected edition of V for Vendetta (V wie Vendetta) by Speed Comics, with black and white pages as serialized in the 1982 original British edition. V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V3 DEF
Fig 25. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Poon (P), Poon (K) and Win. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

 

V3 MON DEF.jpg
Fig 26. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Mon (and his teammates Tap, Ik, Golf and X). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

6. Results for Sunny

Sun 01
Fig 27. Two successive pages excerpted from the manga series Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media
Sun 05 POON
Fig 28. Same Sunny pages, with text alteration by Thai students Poon (P), Poon (K) and Win. Based onSunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media
Sun 03 FAME
Fig 29. Same Sunny pages, with text alteration by Thai students Fame, Belle, Lukkaew and Prim. Based on Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media
Sun 02 EERNG
Fig 30. Same Sunny pages, with text alteration by Thai students Misha, Erin, PingPing, Tanya and PunPun. Based on Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media
Sun 04 GAM
Fig 31. Same Sunny pages, with text alteration by Thai students Gam, Mint (Si), Tip and Golf. Based on Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media

“When Por told me her concept, I said: ‘Por, this is an idea to get us a F’.”

Student Jean about the following altered narrative; a bold move indeed…

Sun 04 POR
Fig 32. Same Sunny pages (here starting with left page), with (bold) text alteration by Thai students Por and Jean. Based on Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media

7. More altered pages (“V”)

V ART 00 DEF
Fig 33. V for Vendetta page from the German edition (see original above), altered by Thai students Art, Mark, Junior and Book. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V ERIN DEF
Fig 34. V for Vendetta page from the German edition (see original above), altered by Thai students Erin, Misha, PunPun, Earn, Tanya and PingPing. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V GAM DEF
Fig 35. V for Vendetta page from the German edition (see original above), altered by Thai students Gam, Mint (Si), Tip and Golf. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.
V PRIM DEF.jpg
Fig 36. V for Vendetta page from the German edition (see original above), altered by Thai students Lukkaew, Prim, Fame and Belle. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

“I’m gonna die. I’m gonna die. This is too complicated, Ajarn [teacher]. I’m gonna die.”

Student Noinae during the in-class assignment.

“Marsupilami and the Black Panther” tribute comics by CommDe students

On the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of Friendship between Belgium and Thailand, and to explore the ability of comics to tackle social and political issues with much effectiveness and immediacy, 8 students at the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand) were asked to create 2-page comics starring the Marsupilami -an imaginary animal created by Belgian cartoonist André Franquin (for Belgian publishing house Dupuis in 1952)- and addressing the recent story of a construction company mogul charged with six poaching-related crimes (including the killing of a black Indochinese leopard/panther) in a Thai Wildlife Sanctuary. High-resolution pages are displayed at the end of this post, after an introduction to the historical context and the guest-lecture on André Franquin.

Marsu vivi 2
Poster of an angry Marsupilami for the “Geneva League Against Vivisection”. By André Franquin (1970s).

1. Historical context

radio_04-9291f
Left: cover of The Secret Chronicles of Thungyai (1973). Right: illustration of a “gaur lying dead under the Thai flag” by Prayoon Chanyawongse in The Secret Chronicles of Thungyai (1973).

The Secret Chronicles of Thungyai [Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary] (in Thai: บันทึกลับจากทุ่งใหญ่) is a journal published in 1973 by a group of students against elephant hunting (and other animal poaching) in Thailand in the aftermath of the crash of a military helicopter in the Thung Yai forest revealing an illegal hunting party of senior military officers, businessmen, family members, and a filmstar. The ‘zine’ documented “the ecological value of the area as well as the incident” (The Nation, 2018), and was accompanied by satirical illustrations from various influential cartoonists (with an introduction, and two illustrations, by the “King of Thai Cartoon” Prayoon Chanyawongse; see figure above). 200,000 copies of the student journal were sold in 2 weeks (Eawsakul, 2015), fuelling nationwide public outrage. “In a time of great political unrest the incident became a focus for the prevailing discontent with the military rule” and “a rallying cry for the pro-democracy movement” (Seub/Stewart-Cox 1990:34), triggering public protest and demonstrations. “The protests were suppressed on October 14, with scores of killed, followed by a great number of students fleeing to the forest to join communist groups” (The Nation, 2018). The bloody crackdown ultimately led to the fall of the Thanom-Prapas regime. “The area finally was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1974 under a new democratic government” (Buergin, 2001).

44 years later (on February 5, 2018) in the same Wildlife Sanctuary, construction company mogul Premchai Karnasuta -the 63-year-old president of Italian-Thai Development- and three other men were charged with six poaching-related crimes after they were caught with “two rifles, a double-barrelled shotgun, various bullets, the body of a Kalij pheasant, a muntiacini deer carcass, a skinned and salted black leopard and a black panther skull”. (Thaitrakulpanich, Khaosod English, 2018a). “Investigators examining Premchai’s camp site found cooking equipment they believe the rotund CEO used to consume the animal. The black leopard, commonly called a black panther in Asia and considered a vulnerable species, was killed by gunfire” (Thaitrakulpanich, Khaosod English, 2018b). Mr Premchai and other suspects still deny the charges against them, which include illegal hunting and possessing firearms in a sanctuary.” A ranger and his coworkers have told police that the powerful construction magnate they arrested on suspicion of poaching a rare black panther tried to bribe them” (Thaitrakulpanich, Khaosod English, 2018c). “The case has sparked a fierce outcry from environmental groups, celebrities and the public in general” (Bangkok Post, 2018). “As people following the case have shown dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the investigation, many have expressed their feelings regarding the case, and the hunting of endangered big cats in general, in many ways.” A campaign calling for the prosecution of a construction tycoon over “his alleged killing of a black leopard and other protected animals has expanded, with people expressing their grief and anger in essays, poems, paintings and, in the latest development, street art” (Chimprabha, The Nation, 2018). It was just about time to address the issue in #ArtOfThePanther comics form…

(Note: sources at the end of this post).

“The first mural apparently was the work of a Facebook user known as ‘Headache Stencil’, who painted a picture of a black leopard’s head accompanied by a symbol of a mute button on a wall on Sukhumvit Road. The symbolism was described as urging the public not to remain silent regarding the case” (Marisa Chimprabha, The Nation).

Lecture 01

2. “From Harvey Kurtzman to André Franquin” guest lecture

On Wedneday February 7, I had the pleasure to be invited to hold a guest lecture for ajarn Oat Montien’s Visual Narrative course at the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University). My topic was the evolution of Comics Art from American cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993), with complete analyses of his classic short comics BIG ‘IF’! (Frontline Combat #5, March 1952) and 3-DIMENSIONS! (art by Wally Wood, MAD #12, June 1954), to Belgian cartoonist André Franquin‘s (1924-1997) creations such as Gaston Lagaffe and the Marsupilami, and Les Idées Noires (Die Laughing, soon in English by Fantagraphics).

The lecture also included an analysis of the comics masterpiece Master Race by (Al Feldstein &) Bernie Krigstein (Impact #1, EC Comics, April 1955), and a presentation of the seminal role of French comics writer René Goscinny (The Adventures of Asterix) and Belgian cartoonist Jijé (figurehead of the Marcinelle School, author of seminal semi-realistic comics series Jerry Spring and mentor of André Franquin, Smurfs‘creator Peyo, or Jean Giraud/Moebius) in the development of humour, realism, and more adult content in Franco-Belgian comics (influenced partly by American cartoonists such as Harvey Kurtzman and Milton Caniff).

Jijé Hem Vejakorn
Both unfairly lacking international recognition, Belgian comics creator Jijé (Joseph Gillain, 1914-1980) and Thai cartoonist Hem Vejakorn (เหม เวชกร, 1904-1969) were probably the most influential comics artists in their respective countries in the 1950s. Is it in the Franco-Belgian or the Thai comics fields, they introduced a seminal and groundbreaking semi-realistic drawing style, adapted the lives of spiritual and historical figures (Jesus/Emmanuel or Baden Powell for Jijé and King Razadarit or Buddha for Hem Vejakorn), influenced and taught the following generation of comics and animation masters (Morris, André Franquin, Will or Jean Giraud/Mœbius for Jijé or Payut Ngaokrachang and others for Hem Vejakorn)… among other similarities. “The Horseman and The Mahout” (or “Khwanchang” in Thailand), another pending project…

Belgian cartoonist Hergé, creator of the Adventures of Tintin, stated: “Franquin is a great artist. Next to him, I’m only a mediocre pen-pusher”. Fantagraphics’ Kim Thompson agreed with Tintin’s creator, writing that “in terms of ultra-classic greatness, Hergé has that abstract line but Franquin has something else. He created the most complete, the most alive, the most absolute cartooniness in comics history” (source: The Comics Journal).

On 31 January 1952, the first appearance of the Marsupilami in the adventure of Spirou et les Héritiers (Spirou and the Heirs) in the weekly Spirou magazine marked a generation of readers. The myth did not need decades to settle permanently (MarsuPro). The original Marsupilami was found from the jungle of Palombia, a fictitious South American country, by adventurous journalists Spirou and Fantasio and their squirrel Spip. The marsupial was taken to Belgium, where he was shortly kept in a zoo (Comic Vine). The Marsupilami will later accompany Spirou and Fantasio in many adventures, before returning to Palombia and have adventures of its own. The Spirou et Fantasio album Le nid des Marsupilamis (1956) is mostly concerned with female reporter Seccotine‘s documentary-within-the-comic about the life of a family of Marsupilamis still living in the wild in Palombia. Marsupilamis have a long, strong, flexible, prehensile tail, used for almost any task. They are able to use their tail as a weapon, by tightening the end into a fist and the remainder of the tail into a spring-like spiral for maximal force (see figure above). Marsupilamis must regularly defend themselves against poacher Bring M. Backalive and his associates…

For those interested, comic books of Spirou and Fantasio (with the Marsupilami) and Marsupilami adventures are available in English from Cinebook.


 3. Presenting 1940s-1970s issues of Spirou magazine

After the lecture, CommDe students had the opportunity to flip through a collection of 1940s-1970s classic and rare issues of the Franco-Belgian Spirou magazine (with Spirou/Marsupilami pages by André Franquin, Jerry Spring pages by Jijé, Johan and Peewit pages by Smurfs creator Peyo, etc.), and issues of the Spirou magazine mythic supplement Le Trombone Illustré. I would like to thank warmly Philippe Capart, owner of the bookstore La Crypte Tonique in Brussels, who helped me to select and acquire the issues of this invaluable collection used for my comics courses in Thailand.

MM01
CommDe students flipping through 1940s-1970s issues of the Spirou magazine (with some Spirou/Marsupilami stories, Jijé’s Jerry Pring pages, and Le Trombone Illustré supplement).

Students were given one week to develop the layouts of their Marsupilami and the Black Panther two-page comics. During the following lesson, ajarn Oat Montien -with the assistance of yours truly- gave comment and advice on the comics layouts (see figures below).

Marsupilami
Work-in-progress page of “Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Entryh (FB: Entryh) (page 1/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis). Final version near the end of this post.
Marsupilami
Work-in-progress page of “Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Entryh (FB: Entryh) (page 2/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis). Final version near the end of this post.

4. “Marsupilami and the Black Panther” tribute comics

One week after presenting their layouts, the 8 students of the Visual Narrative courses submitted the final version of their comics! Enjoy!

Marsupilami Darnis 1
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Darnis (FB: Especialist) (page 1/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
Marsupilami Darnis 2bis
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Darnis (FB: Especialist) (page 2/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).

Zam 01
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Zam (FB: Angus) (page 1/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis). Note: the present story confers to the Marsupilami the ability to “force through the dimensional barrier into our world” like Popeye’s Eugene the Jeep, the supernatural animal that André Franquin loved as a kid. See figure above.
Zam 02
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Zam (FB: Angus) (page 2/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis). Note: the present story confers to the Marsupilami the ability to “force through the dimensional barrier into our world” like Popeye’s Eugene the Jeep, the supernatural animal that André Franquin loved as a kid. See figure above.

??
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Korean student Seung Yeon (page 1/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
??
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Korean student Seung Yeon (page 2/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).

comic
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Beam (double spread). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis). Note: in the actual events, the rangers didn’t take the bribe.
comic
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Beam (page 1/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
comic
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Beam (page 2/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis). Note: in the actual events, the rangers didn’t take the bribe.
Marsu Pear 01
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Pear (page 1/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
Marsu Pear 02
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Pear (page 2/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
Jao 01
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Jao (page 1/2). Printed on multiple layers of tracing papers, with appropriation of art by Batem (from “Marsupilami: The Marsupilami’s Tail” and “Marsupilami: Bamboo Baby Blues”, Franquin/Batem/Greg, Cinebook, 2017). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
Jao 02
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Jao (page 2/2). Printed on multiple layers of tracing papers, with appropriation of art by Batem (from “Marsupilami: The Marsupilami’s Tail” and “Marsupilami: Bamboo Baby Blues”, Franquin/Batem/Greg, Cinebook, 2017). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
PROUD Marsu-01
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Proud (page 1/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
PROUD Marsu-02
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Proud (page 2/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
Marsupilami
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Entryh (FB: Entryh) (page 1/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).
Marsupilami
“Marsupilami and the Black Leopard” tribute comics by Thai student Entryh (FB: Entryh) (page 2/2). Based on the Marsupilami character created by André Franquin (©Marsu/Dupuis).

Marsu vivisection 3
Original artwork of an angry Marsupilami for a poster of the “Geneva League Against Vivisection”. By André Franquin (1970s).

Sources

Bangkok Post (2018, March 7). Black leopard soup confirmed in poaching case. Bangkok Post.

Buergin, R. (2001). Contested Heritages: Disputes on People, Forests, and a World Heritage Site in Globalizing Thailand, SEFUT Working Paper No. 9, University of Freiburg, p.5.

Chimprabha, M. (2018, March 8). Art breathes life into black leopard campaign – despite repeated attempts at suppression. The Nation.

Eawsakul, T. (2015), Cartoon Thai Tai Laew (catalogue expo, “การ์ตูนไทยตายแล้ว”, “Is Thai Cartoon Dead?”). Bangkok: PUBAT, The Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand, n.p.

Seub N., Stewart-Cox, B. (1990). Nomination of the Thung Yai – Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary to be a U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Site. Bangkok: Royal Forest Department.

Thaitrakulpanich, A. (2018a, Feb 6). Italian-Thai President Charged with Poaching Wild Animals. Khaosod English.

Thaitrakulpanich, A. (2018b, Feb 8). Rangers: Premchai ate the Leopard in a Soup. Khaosod English.

Thaitrakulpanich, A. (2018c, Feb 8). Forest Ranger: Poacher Premchai Offered Bribe. Khaosod English.

The Nation (2018, Feb 7). Hunting arrests recall events leading to 1973 uprising crisis. The Nation.

 

#LetMeSeeYourEyes text substitution constrained comics exercise

 #LetMeSeeYourEyes; substituting the dialogue of a comics/manga page with imposed lines excerpted from Norwegian cartoonist Jason‘s Why Are You Doing This? (Fantagraphics, 2005; Editions Carabas, 2004, for original French version).

BLURB!

“Great idea for an exercise (the source is impeccable, of course!). The examples work really well, and the Peanuts page shows how this principle can be expanded on and could even be used for a book-length work made up of quotes, borrowed page layouts, mash-ups, etc.” Matt Madden (February 17, 2018), cartoonist and teacher best known for his book 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (Penguin), as well as a member of Oubapo (Workshop for Potential Comics), and later a French knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.

January 2018. The sixty-two (3rd and 4th year) students in the Creative Writing for Printed Matter course (sections 10 and 11; “Graphic Writing”) at the International Program (BA) in Communication Management (Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok , Thailand) were provided with a series of imposed lines excerpted from Jason’s comics Why Are You Doing This?: “So… Did you do it? / Sorry? / Was it you who killed that man earlier today? / No. No, it wasn’t. / Let me see your eyes. / All right. Follow me.” After being shown an example (Tintin in Tibet; see below) and as a home assignment, students were given one week to find a comics/manga page in which the dialogue might fit -with the least possible alteration- by substitution.

“The function of relay is less common (at least as far as the fixed image is concerned); it can be seen particularly in cartoons and comic strips. Here text (most often a snatch of dialogue) and image stand in a complementary relationship; the words, in the same way as the images, are fragments of a more general syntagm [sequence of linguistic units] and the unity of the message is realized at a higher level, that of the story, the anecdote, the diegesis […].” Roland Barthes, Rhetoric of the Image (translation S. Heath), in: Image, Music, Text, 1977.

Goals of this warm-up exercise; production of new comics pages by students without any particular artistic training; browsing of dozens of comics pages, and development of the  “image reading” skill by focusing students’ attention on visual motifs in pictures and sequences; development of multimodal literacy through the combination/confrontation of visual (drawings), aural (speech, tone), linguistic (delivery of both “written and spoken” text), gestural (facial expressions/body language/postures) and spatial (spatialisation of text & sequences of adjacent panels) modes; exploration of text/image relationship (anchorage/relay); to stress out the importance of eye contact in drama.

Inspired by a constrained comics page from American cartoonist Matt Madden‘s 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (2005). And from Will Eisner‘s illustration of “facial postures with a parallel set of statements” (in Comics and Sequential Art). See below.

99 ways template and different image
Left: original template. Right: text from original template, but different images. From Matt Madden’s 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (2005)”.
EISNER facial expressions
“Expressive anatomy” in Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art, page 110. Poorhouse Press, 1985. ©1985 Will Eisner.

 “[Comics] doesn’t blend the visual and the verbal – or use one simply to illustrate the other – but is rather prone to present the two non-synchronously; a reader of comics not only fills in the gaps between panels but also works with the often disjunctive back-and-forth of reading and looking for meaning.” Hillary Chute, “Comics as Literature? Reading Graphic Narrative”, in: PMLA, 123(2), 2008


WAYDT original
Page from Jason’s comics Why Are You Doing This? (Fantagraphics, 2005). Imposed lines for the exercise were excerpted from panels 6 to 12.
tibet subst original
Example provided to the students: original (half-) page of Tintin in Tibet by Hergé; before text substitution.
tibet subst Jason
Example provided to the students: (half-) page of Tintin in Tibet by Hergé after text substitution (by yours truly) of the imposed lines excerpted from Jason’s Why Are You Doing This?.

Commenting on  Gunther Kress’s Multimodality, Jacobs notes that linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, and spatial elements combine in comics narratives and that, “[taken] together, these elements form a multimodal system of meaning making.” (“More than Words: Comics as a Means of Teaching Multiple Literacies”, in: The English Journal, 96(3), 2007.


1. Text substitutions by CommArts students; without any order/speech balloon alteration (except for an additional ellipsis, or “…”, in a couple of pages)

00 SHERLOCK subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Mint (Sirivadee) in a page from the manga adaptation (Titan Comics) by mangaka Jay of the TV series Sherlock.
Sherlock Original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 POKEMON subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Golf (Sorasak) in a page from the manga Pokémon Adventures v.34 (VIZ Media) by mangaka Hidenori Kusaka (script) and Satoshi Yamamoto (art).
POKEMON Original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 ZITS subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Ben in a Zits comic strip by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman.
ZITS original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 CONAN subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Prim in a page from the manga Case Closed (or Detective Conan; VIZ Media) by mangaka Gosho Aoyama.
CONAN original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 DISNEY subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Erin in a page from the Disney fan comic, or doujinshi, Disney High School (featuring Rapunzel and Quasimodo as siblings) by Morloth88.
MODEL DISNEY
Original page.
00 UZUMAKI
Text substitution by CommArts student WIN in a page from the manga Uzumaki (VIZ Media) by mangaka Junji Ito.
UZUMAKI original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 ONE PIECE subst
Text substitution by CommArts (Taiwanese exchange) student Edd in a page from the manga One Piece (VIZ Media) by mangaka Eiichiro Oda.
One piece original
Scanlated page (before text substitution).
00 SIMPSON Subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Plawan in a page from the comics series Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror (Bongo Comics).
Simpson Original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 Batman bernet
Text substitution by CommArts student Yaiyaa (Creative Writing, 2016) in a page from the comics Batman: Blackout (“1940’s Catwoman”, DC Comics, 2000) by Howard Chaykin (script) and Jordi Bernet (pencils).
Original Batman bernet
Original page (before text substitution).
00 Cyanide.jpg
Text substitution by CommArts student Mark in a strip from the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness (written and illustrated by Rob Den Bleyker, Kris Wilson, Dave McElfatrick and formerly Matt Melvin).
MODEL Cyanide
Original strip (before text substitution).

2. Text substitutions by CommArts students; respecting the order of the imposed lines but not their strict succession (distribution of the imposed lines before and after text  retained from the original comics page). 

00 SNOOPY Subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Por in a Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. Retaining the two original speech ballons “Right” in panels 9 and 10.
Snoopy Original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 BONBONZAKA KOUKOU
Text substitution by CommArts student Sean in a page from the manga Bonbonzaka Koukou Engekibu (1992) by mangaka Takahashi Yutaka. Retaining the two original speech ballons “Damn” and “Da…” in panel 3.
MODEL BONBONZAKA KOUKOU
Original scanlation (before text substitution).
00 Mickey
Text substitution by a CommArts student (Graphic Writing, 2015) in a page from Mickey Mouse and the World to Come: The Sinking of Illusitania (Boom! Kids, 2010) by Andrea Castellan (aka Casty). Retaining various two original speech balloons.
Mickey Original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 Wotaku ni Koi ha Muzukashii subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Nymph in a page from the manga Wotaku ni Koi ha Muzukashii (It’s Difficult to Love an Otaku) by mangaka Fujita. Retaining various speech ballons, and adding an ellipsis (“…”).
Wotaku ni Koi ha Muzukashii original
Original scanlation (before text substitution).
00 CEREAL
Text substitution by CommArts student Pat in a page from the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach WeinersmithRetaining various speech ballons.
Original Cereal copy
Original strip (before text substitution).
Was it you, comics
Text substitution by CommArts student Boss in a page from the comics Immortal Iron First issue 16 (Marvel Comics) by Matt Fraction (writer) and David Aja (penciller). Retaining the original speech ballon “Noooooo” in panel 4.
Was it you, comics
Original page (before text substitution).
00 KINDAICHI subst 2
Text substitution by CommArts student Poon K. in a page from the manga The Kindaichi Case Files (Tokyopop) by mangaka Yōzaburō Kanari and Seimaru Amagi (writers) and Fumiya Satō (art). Retaining the original speech ballon “I’m amazed by your work” in panel 4.
KINDAICHI original
Original page (before text substitution).
00 Grumpy Cat
Text substitution by CommArts student Tip in a page from GRUMPY CAT AND POKEY (Dynamite; writers Ben Fisher, Derek Fridolfs, Ilias Kyriazi; and artists Ken Haeser, Ilias Kyriazis, Steve Uy). Retaining various speech balloons, and with additional ellipsis (“…”).
Original Grumpy Cat
Original page (before text substitution).
00 Superman
Text substitution by CommArts student Mos (Creative Writing, 2016) in a page from Superman #14 (The Invention Thief, DC Comics, 1942), by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, and Leo Nowak. Retaining various original speech balloons.
Original Superman
Original page (before text substitution).
00 NARUTO subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Mon in a page from the manga Naruto (VIE Media) by mangaka Masashi Kishimoto. Retaining the original sound effect “SHWUUU” in panel 5.
NARUTO Original
Original scanlation (before text substitution).
00 TinTin and Alph-Art
Text substitution by CommArts student Mo (Creative Writing, 2016) in a page from Tintin and Alph-Art, inked and colorized by Yves Rodier based on (unfinished) pencilled page by Hergé. Retaining the original speech balloon (“?”) in panel 6.
Original TinTin -24- TinTin and Alph-Art - 01
Original scanlation (before text substitution).
00 QUEST subst
Text substitution by CommArts student TG in a page from Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life – Volume 2 (EQ Comics) by Dan Long. Retaining various original speech balloons.
Original Quest
Original strip (before text substitution).

 

3. Text substitutions by CommArts students; without order alteration, but with additional bubbles.

 

00 cat vs human
Text substitution by CommArts student Note in a page from Cat versus Human by Surovec Yasmine. Retaining various original speech balloons, and with additional bubbles.
Original cat vs human
Original page (before text substitution).
00 SAPHIE
Text substitution by CommArts student Pitchii in a page from the webcomics Saphie the One Eyed Cat by Joho. Retaining various onomatopoeiae, and with additional bubbles.
MODEL SAPHIE
Click on the page to reach the original webcomics.

 

#BiggerQuestions constrained comics exercise; weaving scattered wordless panels into a graphic narrative.

#BiggerQuestions: in-class creative assignment (Intro Comm course developed by the Faculty of Communication Arts; Interpersonal Communication chapter); weaving 7 scattered wordless panels (taken from Anders Nilsen‘s Big Questions) into a 2-page graphic narrative.

BLURB!

“Great exercise!” Matt Madden (February 9, 2018), cartoonist and teacher best known for his book 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (Penguin), as well as a member of OuBaPo (Workshop for Potential Comics), and later a French knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.

“More good stuff from [Bangkok], thanks for sharing!” Nick Sousanis (February 9, 2018), assistant professor of Humanities & Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University. He received his doctorate in education at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2014, where he wrote and drew his dissertation entirely in comic book form. Titled Unflattening, it argues for the importance of visual thinking in teaching and learning, and was published by Harvard University Press in 2015.

January 2018. Fifty (1st year) Thai students at the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University) received 2 pages displaying 7 scattered panels (with erased text) taken from various pages of the graphic novel Big Questions by American cartoonist Anders Nilsen. Within 90 minutes, they had to produce additional panels (if necessary) -and add dialogues- in order to bridge the imposed panels and weave a cohesive and convincing graphic narrative. Following brief comments provided on their comprehensive layouts, students finalized the artwork at home. See below for 20+ of their #BiggerQuestions constrained comics.

Inspired by on a constrained comics exercise used at Pierre Feuille Ciseaux international comics residency-lab.

BQ 01 02 ref
Pages from Anders Nilsen‘s Big Questions (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011).
BQ 01 02
The 2 imposed pages -with scattered panels and blanked-out dialogues- taken from Anders Nilsen‘s Big Questions (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011).

20180108_233504[1]
CommDe student bridging the gaps between Anders Nilsen‘s panels.


Click on the 2-pagers below for larger size.

01 PLYE
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PLYE
YOSHIYUKI 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student YOSHIYUKI
BYRD 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student BYRD
02 PT
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PT
SASINAN 01 02 def
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student SASINAN (PING)
CHICHI 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student CHICHI
OOM 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student OOM
AOM P 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student AOM (P.)
TAT 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student TAT
PHURICH 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PHURICH
SHARON 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student SHARON
BASK 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student BASK
EVE 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student EVE
NENE 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student NENE
AOM T 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student AOM (T.)
FAHSAI 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student FAHSAI
LUKPEAR 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student LUKPEAR
SUNNY 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student SUNNY
PLOY 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PLOY
MIM 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student MIM
KARIN 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student KARIN
MICK 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student MICK
PEACHY 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PEACHY
KRIS 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student KRIS

“Comics” Field Trip and Lectures at the National University of Singapore (Dec. 2017)

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It was an honor and a pleasure to visit the prestigious National University of Singapore  with khun Cue and 15 junior students in the International Program of Communication Management (Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University), and to give a short lecture on the development of Thai Comics during the first half of the 20th century. Our warm thanks to our host Associate Professor Dr. Ian Gordon, Head of the Department of History (NUS), and to Associate Professor Dr. Titima Suthiwan, Director of the Centre for Language Studies (NUS). We also want to thank Singaporean comics scholar Lim Cheng Tju for his presentation on “Consumption of Manga and Anime in Singapore”! Glad we were able to share perspectives on South-East Asian Comics, Manga and… Superman (as Dr. Ian Gordon is the author of Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon)!

This faculty field trip also gave me the opportunity to prepare our CommArts students for next semester’s Creative/Graphic Writing for Printed Matter course! Comics Shopping Day in Singapore!