On arriving in Montréal in 1904, the young French illustrator Théophile Busnel was
immediately recruited by the La Patrie newspaper to continue “Timothée,” a series
created by Albéric Bourgeois. In the summer of 1908, however, Busnel had to return to his
native Brittany, where he was to die as the result of a long illness. Although his time in
Montréal was short, it coincided with the beginning in 1904, and the decline from 1908, of
the comic strip in Quebec’s French language press; the strip was gradually replaced by
American, then French imports. While Busnel was not the original cause of the comic strip’s
golden age, he was almost immediately involved in it and became one of its main actors.
Based on a corpus of drawings published in La Patrie, this article sheds light on
Busnel’s contribution to the history of comic strips and cartoons in Quebec, examining his
interactions with Bourgeois and assessing his graphic, narrative and iconographic
The current vitality of the comic art milieu in Quebec is related both to the
appearance of new authors and to the consolidation of their work through new editorial
formats in which their talents can develop. The recognition of this alternative way, more or
less consciously chosen at a time when the traditional model (44-page Franco-Belgian album
in colour) is still in use and a new model (identified with the “graphic novel”) is being
incorporated into the commercial channels of the book trade, is encouraging authors to
develop a reflexive discourse in which the visual creation of their panels is justified
according to various formal parameters that are acknowledged to enhance the work’s
storyline, as well as its narrative and expressive force. However, the range of these
parameters is orchestrated according to an equilibrium that is continuously changing,
depending on the project currently being carried out and on an underlying aesthetic position
developed from one project to the next. Through the works, interviews, and statements of
position of authors who have chosen this alternative way—Diane Obomsawin, Jimmy Beaulieu,
Michel Rabagliati, and Zviane—the author provides an outline of their metadiscourse, in
order to identify some of the aesthetic issues seen as relevant by well-known practitioners
of comic art in Quebec today.
To mark the fifteenth anniversary of Éditions La Pastèque, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts opened its space to fifteen Quebec comic strip/graphic novel artists as part of the exhibition Comics at the Museum, held from November 6, 2013, to March 30, 2014. Each author chose a work from the Museum’s collection and used it to create a comic strip consisting of a few panels. The transmediality at work in these productions, based on a relationship between the source work and the target work—or, in the words of Genette, between hypotext and hypertext—leads to a very specific kind of complexity. Going beyond adaptation, it involves the generation of new poetic propositions relying on quotation, borrowing, imitation, amplification, and placing in context, while a reflexive look is turned on mediums—movement from painting to drawing, from colour to black and white, etc.—and on the media that preside ontologically over the enunciated frameworks of the new works. This article analyzes such processes and shows how the meeting between comics and the museum, in renewing our understanding of both works of art and narratives consisting of images through a particularly fruitful approach to plasticity, authorizes us to ratify the legitimation of a genre expressing a long-denied understanding of the world of visual and narrative creation.
Described as autobiographical on the back cover, Philippe Girard’s Tuer
Vélasquez (2009) describes an episode of sexual abuse by a priest that was witnessed by
the author in 1983. The author’s writing about himself, however, is rather discreet in this
work, which—in the absence of recitatives—presents the subjectivity of Philippe’s character
in an oblique manner, through a network of references to art (Vélasquez, Picasso), folklore
(the legend of the chasse-galerie), and the influence of books (adventure novels
for young readers). This creates the impression that, notwithstanding the comment of the TV
employee who, at the beginning of the narrative, urges his colleague not to hesitate to
“play the personal experience card” (p. 16) by giving voice to one of the victims of the
pedophile priest, the author has chosen not to go full out in the autobiographical vein;
rather, he seems to have used the witness’s account simply to authenticate a narrative
material whose richness and complexity probably make this Girard’s most accomplished work.
The article focuses on this aspect of the work.
A key actor in the comic art milieu for close to twenty years, Jimmy Beaulieu has published in many different formats and explored a wide variety of themes. His works range from the voluminous Comédie sentimentale pornographique to the discreet Vitrine in fanzine format, and he has played many different roles in the comic book industry (as artist, critic, publisher, bookseller, teacher, lecturer, and more). However, through his various roles and multiple comings and goings between autobiography and fiction, Beaulieu has been quite constant in one thing: his sincerity. This article offers a comparative analysis of several of Jimmy Beaulieu’s works, identifying recurring elements and the integrity he has displayed since the beginning of his career.
In 2014, Zviane self-published Ping-Pong, an introspective essay dealing
with the connections between various artistic practices. Once the first run was sold out,
publisher Pow Pow offered to reissue the work, but the publisher’s house format, larger than
the original strip, was problematic. To occupy excess space on each page, the author chose
to comment on her strip and to ask other artists from Quebec and France to do the same, thus
creating a “dialogue between [herself] in 2014 and [herself] in 2015,” as well as a “shared
thinking space where everyone keeps the conversation going” (p. 8 and flap). This practice
demonstrates the difficulty of remaining consistent when producing an essay, a form which,
as Pascal Riendeau observes, “expresses a thought and deploys a subjectivity, but […] a
thought in motion, that does not fear incompleteness” (Méditation et vision de
l’essai, 2012, p. 11). Self-reflection and self-questioning, brought about by dialogue
with others and the effect of time on the author’s own thinking, are the core of
Ping-Pong, and this article analyzes how these elements are articulated within both
text and drawings.
In today’s social world, where various kinds of essentialism are challenged as a
consequence of biomedical manipulations and genetics as well as gender studies and human
reality itself is challenged by global networking and cyborgs, the figure of hybridity plays
a key role in fiction. This article focuses on Suréquipée, a novel by Grégoire
Courtois that takes the metaphor of anthropomorphism very far, making a car into a living
entity that is the main witness in a disappearance story. The machine becomes a kind of
monster—a cyborg of a highly unusual kind.