Friday, March 13, 2009

"Brief introduction to the abstract strip"

So imagine my surprise when I found a piece of mine featured as the cover illustration for an article on abstract comics by Sebastien Conard, in the Belgian "Plots" magazine:

(I found it here.)

Surprise especially since I wasn't asked permission to use it--permission which I would have immediately given, btw, and also would have provided a better file for the piece than the one that I suppose they downloaded from this very blog (since it hasn't been published anywhere else yet).

Now, I can't speak Flemish (or is that Dutch? The journal's website has as the two language options "Nederlands" and English) to save my life, but I found online an article by the same author, on the same subject--and all evidence leads me to believe it is the very same piece. So, without further ado, I provide you with a terrible computer translation of it (On the other hand, if you imagine it as a stylistic descendant of Finnegans Wake, it might even have a certain charm, and be oddly appropriate):

Strips, allegedly still an art but if a loud, public mud. The fancier word story moffelt trouble with the uncomfortable throat sound way. Abstract strips than a topic for people with too much time? No doubt, but where was any art direction without its own (sensible) avant-garde? Consider this special exponents of the experimental story and dare you to this brief introduction to the STRIP ABSTRACT.

By Sebastien Conard

As the film is a form of popular entertainment as a child none of press rolls and newsprint, long remained a comic strip for the under inartistic people, morons, children and the illiterate. The wrikt is however independent of this image and after the revolution of the 60s there is a mature story. In the mature work after May'68 (the "graphic novel" included) is however what substance until the French 'nouvelle vague' from early 90s the new medium inblaast. On the menu are somewhat less weightiness and a no-nonsense approach to both young and old. Rising star was' L'Association, including David B., Blain, Blutch, Sfar and Lewis Trondheim ubiquitous. An introduction to abstract visual can without embarrassment 'to this centipede begin. The man has for years had an eye for everything in the strip of grass moving and ventured to many. Moreover, he was a central figure of the 'oubapo (ouvroir the bande dessinée potentielle) as the experimental counterpart of the' oulipo (ouvroir the littérature potentielle): all kinds of creative Spielerei based on shape restrictions.

Bleu (Trondheim)

In 2003, Trondheim steal a small blue booklet: 'Bleu'. This apparent sequence from one another takeover, repellent and split income amoebas applies now as a classic in the genre of abstract strip. The genre is so far distant origin in a funny eenpaginagag Maurice Rosy in stripblad Spirou and some psychedelic SF (s) breaks master Giraud / Moebius in the magazine Chaos (1989).

El Lissitzky

On is itself refers to "About 2 squares, a 12-piece set of compositions constructivist El Lissitzky (1922). How could it otherwise than in the Russian avant-garde start? After 'Bleu' to Trondheim in 2006 "La nouvelle Pornographie from, another abstract, formal sex game that he, as it were from inside the female body looks.

La Nouvelle Pornographie (Trondheim)

Again pretty funny but not particularly exciting. Moreover, the abstract to the extent that it is minimalist and only read a certain code is required to fully understood. Something similar applies for TNT and America 'by Jochen Gerner (2002) and "Poor Indian' Tom Lambeens (2008). The first is an exercise which Gerner oubapo the pages of Hergé's Tintin and America 'fully dyed black but there uitspaarde text on the modern, violent society of the USA. The original color planes he saved only icons that relate to the already saved words. In Lambeens’ In Lambeens' Poor Indian 'can enjoy the repetitive sequences and the detailed layout uitgedokterde the full reading required here cracking a code.

Ibn al Rabin

But let us back in time: early 2000 Trondheim contributes to the visual escapades of Ibn al Rabin and konsoorten. With 'L'Association gradually depopulated by the lokroep of commercial publishers, profiles the Swiss' Atrabile' as a fresher and younger group. Since the thirteenth number (2003) of their stripblad 'Bile Noire' maintains strip minimalist Ibn al Rabin a chapter abstract strip. In addition to Trondheim and Ibn al Rabin car Frederik Peeters, Guy Delisle, Andreas Health and others at the genre. Yet they all continue to fluctuate around the same idea and they merely abstract figuration. That they are not so far from the surreal strips Silvestre, Olivier Marboeuf and others in the publishing arty Frémok. In both cases you get strips of geometric figures fulfill the role of characters and dialogue with each other (with or without text). Moreover, beyond the image of a rare follow-up series animation stills (snapshots).

Andrei Molotiu

Jessie Bi, Stéphane Girod and Mark Staff Brandl make everything work crazier but it is truly fascinating with Andrei Molotiu, an American who for some exercise on His abstraction beyond the grid of boxes, because usually is a comic page Molotiu is an abstract composition. Similarly, the strips of Bruno Schaub (Brusche) on You get the story right? Then maybe you get expert 'le Carré de fait du ski Malevich, how over a white page displays ... You do not have to strip so as Malevich original.

Greg Shaw-Veuve Poignet

All these examples are rare abstraction of sequentialiteit itself. In other words, they have replaced the familiar figures within the frameworks more geometric shapes but hardly play with the actual sequence of multiple image frames on a page. See also the beautiful 'Popeye and Olive "by Richard McGuire (Cornelius, 2001): a minimalist pop art treatment of the silhouettes of the classic American comic strip couple. But again limits the abstraction to figuration. Where do we or those extracted sequentialiteit? Greg Shaw was one passage in there and let Atrabile 'Walk pictorial' (2005) after. This change gepixeleerde planes of color and in their mutual relations, while the layout of the framework evolves. (Who incidentally means of pixels must agree to practice the abstract machine strip of Health: ) The Brussels'5 e Couch 'brought Greg Shaw than Veuve Poignet (2006) from another step further. It reduces the interaction between text and the sequence of images to a minimum abstract. By reading the rows color boxes to connect to a text legend, he plays with the basic codes of the story. Indeed, a series of images will only significant due to the accompanying text and vice versa. That this book an ode to masturbation and is thematically close to 'La nouvelle Pornographie' is doing some suspicion that one of Greg Shaw Trond Heim many passers-double is. (See also the online mysteries around the blogs and Frantico Jerry Tongdeum).

In addition to these formal abstractions, the visual experiments at the level of text and narrative. Even with figurative and very classic, realistic forms a strip in abstract texts and story structure. Trondheim supplied with a Menu on in that direction. 'Moins d'un quart the second pour vivre (1990) was a oubapo exercise of the first hour on the same sort of images in each sequence and to provide appropriate text. Yet the real perfect example of abstract narrative 'The Cage' (1975) by Martin Vaughn-James: a succession of perfectly readable snapshots off brokkelde and shiver ran interiors, subtitled by an independent text only atmosphere in relation to the images. The story is entirely abstract, emotional and character-based but carved in shape realistic still lifes. Here are the authors of Fremok report worthy. In their article stie kereteken strips often we find a preference for the abstract language of colors and textures back. However, the images are usually figurative and already read. The texts and storylines, however poetic, indirect or even hermetically. Today, the experimental Matière publishing the work of Yuichi Yokoyama, who with only slightly abstract images very abstract stories offers.

Yuichi Yokoyama

In 'Travaux publics' (2004),' Combat '(2004) and "Voyage" (2005) provides futuristic Yokoyama pressing and public works, conflicts and travel. The images are clear (a workman is a workman, a spaceship a spaceship, etc.) but the story leads nowhere or in other words abstract. His strips are also full of Japanese onomatopeeën, dynamic movement lines and detail shots, so he creates a timeless image of an out of modernity.

The term abstract swallowed all the same difficulties as the situations in which it is applied. Often seems an excuse for artistic charlatans and other Kramers of hot air. Because air or at least a little lightness, there is the question. Ibn al Rabin: 'C’est un truc amusant sur lequel on peut faire plein d’essais et qui en plus permet de s’offrir une contenance en cocktail en balançant des explications bourrées de mots plus grands que soi'(Bile Noire, Atrabile, 2006) that the general public it is sometimes difficult, especially when it comes to comics as a popular child is, is probably the lack of tangibility. Because if the abstraction is to extract the visible reality, the concrete and tangible, as there is still about?

That reference to "other Kramers of hot air" is priceless, isn't it? (Oh, yeah, I should mention that the things that look like intertitles are actually stand-ins for illustrations. It's too much of a pain to put those in, so you'll just have to follow the link to the original article to see them.)

The article had two comments. The first one, by "willem gay," says:

I like experimental strips. But this is something I am too far. Sometimes in a cold I think such things in my handkerchief, after the blow of my nose. No thanks, I'm for this kind experimlenten apparently not yet ready.

And here's the author's reply:

Then, best Gay, I urge you strongly to be creative to deal with your handkerchiefs. Not washing please!

Ha! Good one!

(Actually, I should say that it seems--through the fog of that translation--that Sebastien says nice things about me, and for that I thank him. But, honestly, dude, I could have provided a better, hi-res file. Come on!)

Oh yeah, one more comment: both Greg Shaw and Lewis Trondheim are in "Abstract Comics: The Anthology," I have dealt with both via email, and as far as I can tell they are definitely two distinct individuals.


troylloyd said...

great find Andrei!

"other Kramers of hot air"

priceless indeed.

it seems the googtrans mangles up the Dutchie pretty bad, but an enjoyable kind of bad i must say.

1. Flemish. We verstaan hieronder auteurs die, al dan niet in Vlaanderen geboren en/of opgegroeid, hun opleiding genoten hebben en/of in Vlaanderen zijn beginnen publiceren. We mean this authors who, whether born in Flanders and / or up, their training and / or in Flanders started publishing. Een aantal Franstalige, Nederlandse en Duitse auteurs die ons inziens een belangrijke invloed uitoefenen op de Vlaamse, alternatieve stripmarkt zullen we wel betrekken. A number of French, Dutch and German authors that we believe an important influence on the Flemish and alternative comics market we are involved. Er zijn evidente economische, politieke, culturele en linguïstische redenen voor deze categorie. Maar voor diezelfde redenen staat ze natuurlijk onder druk… There are obvious economic, political, cultural and linguistic reasons for this category. But for the same reasons, they obviously under pressure ...

bouncing around the Dutch digiscape, i discover'd Ever Meulen's real name is Eddy Vermeulen (news to me)

& i also found this site pretty interesting:

image [&] narrative


troylloyd said...


i post'd the wrong link,
here is the correct addy:

image [&] narrative


Sébastien Conard said...

Well, well. Things go fast and slow. Dear Andrei, I'm really sorry about not asking for the use of your pics. I wrote the article for Plots (Flemish comic mag) and provided links to the pictures. Now, the editors probably didn't feel the urge to go contacting everybody and in a sense that is normal: there's no copyright involved when the use is scientific, educational or critical and references are explicit. You would have provided a better pic, you say, but don't worry, things came out pretty OK in print. For the record: you can buy the last issue of Plots in Flanders or through Peter, the editor, will satisfy any demands. But of course, you can read that piece online, on Stripel online, where you also found it. You will also see my Costa, another kind of abstract comic: I hope the current issue is sorted out with this apology.

To go further on the content of things... The googletrans is very funny and enjoyable, of course. But it quite misses the point(s) as one would expect. (The Kramers baking hot air is strangely accurate...) Comes to abstract comics, I contacted you months ago (sept/oct 2008?) but there was no reply. Mark Staff Brandl send a nice response and I had some interesting e-discussions with Frenchman Brush (Bruno Schaub: Contacting Ibn Al Rabin didn't work until he now popped up on (comments about Baladi's Petit Trait: And there he openly informs about your project for Fantagraphics. It spooked around as a rumour but now I get confirmation: there is going to be an anthology. Hurray!

I don't no how far things are and if you have any interest in what comes from this little corner of the world called Flanders. (Greg Shaw is a Flemish guy, btw, I didn't know back then). When it comes to me, it would be my pleasure to translate my article to English. It is mainly a short historical overview of the genre (I already did a quick translation to French for Brush). Further on, I hope you might enjoy my chromatic abstract comics (where I try to narrate only by color and leave shape behind as much as possible). You will find them in my Sediments #3: The article is reproduced there as well, in the shape Swahili (Plots' layouter) casted it into. (All 3 Sediments are not published yet, not on paper.) I'm working on other things meanwhile. Also, I'm collaborating with Tom Lambeens, whom I talk about in the article and also works on abstract comic (for a doctorate now). He will certainly be interested. A piece of his work: and

Once again, sorry for the not-asking. As I said, things go fast and slow in this era. Wish we had met otherwise. But now we've kind of met, I hope further interactions and collaborations might flourish. Oh yeah, and I did say positive things about your work.

Kind regards,

Sébastien Conard - seb.c