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Angoulême focus on Arab comics

In France, a new exhibition on Arab comics launches at the Angoulême Comics Festival.

France’s 46th Angoulême International Comics Festival, which closed last week, included a special focus on Arab comics, according to Olivia SnaijeBookwitty‘s English-language editorial manager in Paris and Publishing Perspectives contributor.

As Snaije writes at Bookwitty, traditions of cartooning in the Arab world can be traced to the 19th century. In the modern era, “The lead-up to the Arab Spring and its subsequent failings has galvanized the comics scene, also giving rise to women cartoonists such as Nadia Khiari, known as Willis from Tunis, and many others, in what was a traditionally male-dominated area.”

An exhibition, The New Generation: Arab Comics Today, opened with the festival and is scheduled to be on view until November 4 at Angoulême’s Museum of Comics on Quay Charente.

The official catalogue of the exhibition was published Friday (February 2) by Alifbata, and is available now with its text in both French and English. The volume features more than 40 of the artist-authors from the exhibition, as well as three critical essays that contextualize the frequently challenged place the comics sector has held in the Maghreb and Levant.

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And now, a dapper Ravana: Amar Chitra Katha undergoes makeover

Benevolent kings and their beauteous queens stroll in palace gardens or verdant forests while loyal servants eavesdrop and evil enemies plot. Meanwhile, marauding armies scale impossibly high walls and are beaten back by animals that can miraculously talk. A courtier outwits his king every single time and a poet brings strong men to their knees with his intelligence.

This complex cast of characters operating in a fantastical world held us in thrall every single issue of Amar Chitra Katha that we devoured eagerly. As the legendary comic brand reaches its 50th year of production, with over 450 titles to its credit and an astounding 100 million copies sold in over 35 languages, like any 50-year-old, it is emerging from its own version of a mid-life crisis.

Although adored by two generations of Indians, in the last 10 years, some of the adulation has been countered by scepticism bordering on outrage about what has been labelled Amar Chitra Katha’s ‘regressive’ content, both in its art and script.

A number of scholarly writings have come up, criticising and condemning the comics for reinforcing stereotypes: women characters are too subservient, caste hierarchy is established by skin colour, with upper caste characters invariably lighter toned, and its religious biases are clear. The controversy has been similar to what the Enid Blyton pantheon faced, forcing it to rethink its golliwogs and dwarves.

Beards and saris

If all this had happened in an Amar Chitra Katha, a single word from the superhero (placed in a spiky speech bubble) would have reduced the grumbling detractors to tiny, powerless creatures to be borne away on a tidal wave of nostalgia and affection. But real life is less forgiving. Thus, recently, when young artists in the comic house’s studios pointed out that there were no women in the crowd scene in a new title on Sardar Patel, Reena Ittyerah Puri, Executive Editor, immediately had it rectified by removing beards and adding saris for some of the crowd.

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HOCA Foundation presents “The World of Tintin”

Tintin

HONG KONG. – 11 October 2017 – HOCA Foundation is proud to announce a landmark exhibition exploring the adventures of global icon Tintin. The largest presentation in Hong Kong to date, it showcases 8 albums from the renowned “The Adventures of Tintin” series. The immersive experience, featuring vivid scenography, celebrates the imaginative world created by the Belgian illustrator and creator of Tintin, Hergé. Presented in collaboration with the Hergé Museum, “THE WORLD OF TINTIN,” will run from November 17 – December 26, 2017 at the new ArtisTree, venue sponsored by Swire Properties. A public two-day conference, as well as a series of educational comic art workshops will run in parallel, tailored for students in collaboration with local schools.

Created in 1929, the Tintin adventures have been translated into over 100 languages and sold more than 230 million copies worldwide. Each thematic section of the exhibition has been designed by HOCA Foundation to bring the intrepid boy reporter to life. “THE WORLD OF TINTIN” traces Hergé’s path from his first stories to his mature works, following Tintin as he crosses continents between North America, Africa, Asia, Europe and beyond.

A cultural touchstone of the 20th century, the canonical series of Tintin albums featured include Tintin in America; Cigars of the Pharaoh; The Blue Lotus; The Broken Ear; King Ottokar’s Sceptre; The Shooting Star; The Red Sea Sharks and Tintin in Tibet. Packed with gripping adventures, action and page-turning humor, the show highlights Tintin beyond the fictional narrative, offering a lens into the social and political contexts of its time. Visual art has played an important role in documenting historical events, and the series serve as vehicles to express Herge’s views on the conflicts and topics of his time. Ushering a new dimension in comic strips, the Tintin series has since been recognized as an important work of art that reflects the changing perspectives of its audience throughout the 1900s.

The welcoming exhibition also includes three specially created models of Tintin scenes, including a model of Tintin’s apartment; a large diorama of the ticker tape parade in Chicago from Tintin in America, highlighting Hergé’s sophisticated use of perspective; and a collector’s model of a street scene populated by signature Tintin cars, accurately rendered from the automobiles of the time. Flanked by colorful scenes set in vinyl throughout the space and reconstituted as the show’s wallpaper, the exhibition design transforms Hergé’s motifs into a compelling environment that befits his trademark characters and evokes the illustrator’s magical world and limitless imagination.

Committed to art education and enabling access to art for the wider public, HOCA Foundation also presents a 2-day public conference exploring the importance of comic art in contemporary society. The free event will feature panels exploring Tintin’s legacy, as well as a keynote lecture by Michael Farr, the world’s foremost ‘Tintinologist’. In collaboration with local schools, a series of comic art workshops, led by local illustrators will also activate families and students to engage with and be inspired by Tintin stories. All educational events are generously sponsored by blueprint and Semeiotics, with additional support from the ticket sales of Freespace at Taikoo Place, co-presented by Swire Properties and West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. (Please refer to Appendix I for full details of Educational Program)

To celebrate the first full-scale exhibition of Tintin in Hong Kong, 3 pop-up shops will also be presented around Hong Kong, at ArtisTree, CityPlaza and Central, presenting a wide range of Tintin gifts, books and memorabilia.

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