Bart Beaty on Euro-comics malaise

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Has the European comics scene, long the idol of US comics elitists jumped the shark? Bart Beaty examines the issue at The Comics Reporter:

After a period of tremendous experimentation and growth in the 1970s, the 1980s witnessed a devastating retrenchment, where publishers chased best-sellers by duplicating what they’ve always done. Very little of the resulting work was worth remembering, and the industry collapsed. It was revived by new voices — the L’Association generation of small press artists and the manga invasion.

But more and more I hear from artists who meet tremendous resistance to change from the established houses. The manga generation wants longer stories? I’m sorry, we do 46-page albums here. Black and white is ok? I’m sorry, our albums are always full-color; it’s a tradition. You have an interesting new take on storytelling? I’m sorry, Spirou and Fantasio are busy in Tokyo. Perhaps we’re primed for the next big generational shift in comics, with this generation’s L’Asso equivalents prepping their work in their ateliers. But after a long period of aesthetic expansion, there’s a conservative tone starting to seep back in to things at the moment.

Comments

  1. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Thanks!

    Although it’s “Beaty” like the robot says on “Buck Rogers”.

  2. Peter Bangs says:

    The big french houses do seem to have the same obsession with format that Marvel and DC do, the 46 to 90 page album being their “floppy”. That said there is still a far greater choice of styles and genres available in Supermarkets and the like across Europe than there is outside of a handful of choice comics shops in the UK and US. Experimentation may be at something of a low point at the moment but perhaps that’s simply because it’s so hard to find something that hasn’t been done before.

  3. mario boon says:

    it’s true.
    The problem is every publishing house is now part of a conglomerate. FOr example: Dupuis is now together with Lombard, Dargaud. Casterman is another. Which creates a big profit-only atmosphere.
    There’s a glut of new books as well, often running no longer than 3 albums, often just another fantasy-knockoff or a Titeuf-knockoff, that makes it a very stale creative market.

  4. Peter Bangs says:

    But surely this is exactly the sort of market situation that gave rise to L’Association et al. It may be grim for a while yet but I definitely expect a countersurge to begin soon enough.

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