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Representing the comic(’s) author

« Thématic » directed by Benoît Berthou and Sylvie Ducas

Confused with his noble alter ego - the writer - or its romantic variant - the artist, the author is this complex false friend for those who want to raise the thorny issue of creating art. Applied to comics, this author does not advance unless hidden : is it a figure, a simple representation of the one who takes the pen and sign the book ? the subject of enunciation (which only exists in the space of the board) ? an imaginary self-representation or fantasy ? or all three at once ? and what can we infer from such a “feature writer” about realities related to the comic’s industry and culture ?

This Comicality’s “thematic” invites researchers to rely on any drawings representing the comic author in his creative activity. His figure can appear in a single box (like Hergé in Tintin or Quick et Flupke) or occupy a prominent place in the story : we are open to analysis of all kinds of productions that we can classify roughly into several categories.

  • Self-representation when the author portrays himself (as in the case of autobiography or “self-fiction”) in a way that it would be interesting to study : Fabrice Neaud is represented in the fourth volume of its Journal (see bibliography bellow for more information) under the appearance of a little character looking like a puppet and contrasting with the very precise drawings of the rest of his work, while Jean-Christophe Menu appears (in Livret de phamille) oscillating between drawing from nature and cartoon… In this matter, comics could be studied as self-portraits : what about the representation (by the author) of his tools, his activities while he creates and the board that is being created ? Are welcome proposals wondering what new modes of creators representations are built in comics and exploring their links (challenge ? imitation ? indifference ?) to other artistic practices (litterature, painting, cinema…).

  • Representation of its peers when the author represents other authors in very different ways : sarcasm (in the case of Les Mauvaises humeurs de James et la Tête X), irony (in, for example, Approximativement by Lewis Trondheim), heroism (for example, in his comitment in opening new creative ways in publishing comics : the Journal of Serge Clerc relating the creation of Metal Hurlant and Les Humanoïdes Associés or La Véritable histoire de Futuropolis by Florence Cestac). Could also be studied biographical works that evoks life of other authors in very interesting ways : McCay drawn by Jean-Philippe Bramanti is built around the notion of “attraction” dear to the scenarist Thierry Smolderen, and this “critic” approach contrasts with the “epic” bias of the very long biography focusing on Tezuka’s life…

This list is not exhaustive and we encourage researchers to complete it by books coming from U.S. or Japanese comics and every work that provides answers to this background question : what value ​​is the representation of the comic author ?

Marginal yet fully 30 years ago (let’s think about the “top pages” of Yann and Conrad or the “funny” signatures of Franquin at the bottom of the board in Spirou), the comic author representation is now extremely common and this fact seems to give rise to several approaches.

  • Editorial approach : it would be interesting to better understand (in time or space) the terms of the appearance of the comic author, that is to question the modes of publication (publishers, collections, translations...) of concerned works as well as its structural aspect (in the practice of "blogging" or through the definition of "graphic novel") ;

  • Aesthetic approach : it tries to identify the terms of the appearance of the author, either in terms of graphics (is it similar to portrait, caricature ?) or narrative (is the author a character in itself or does he appear as a reference, or even through a complicity ?) ;

  • Symbolic approach : it questions the value acquired by this representation of the author. Filiation (to a tradition, a style, an idea of comics ?), inscription in the field of literature (by representing a comic’s author next to writers or by choosing autobiography) or painting ? Dealing with pastiche and homage, parody or subversion, this representation seems to deal with the question of artistic heritage : the question of its importance in the “avant-garde” of comic art could be studied…

This call for papers is open to all researchers, whatever their status (academic or not) and their origin (although we can only peer-review and publish texts written in French or English). We invite them to send us proposals by submitting two documents in two separate files (use Open Office or Microsoft Word : no “pdf”) :

  • A fact sheet in the form of a short CV outlining the candidate's areas of research.

  • An anonymous text of 3000 characters (spaces included), presented without any enrichment other than italics or bold, and adopting a standard presentation format (Times New Roman 12 pt for body text, 10 pts for the notes, line spacing 1.5).

The proposal will be evaluated anonymously by two members of the Scientific Committee of Comicality ( : its acceptance will be worth encouragement and suggestions for an article of a size between 25,000 and 50,000 characters (spaces included). It must reach us at following addresses :

Benoît Berthou (university Paris 13), director of Comicality

Sylvie Ducas (university Paris Ouest-La Défense)


Ayroles, François. Nouveaux moment clés de l’Histoire de la bande dessinée. Paris : Alain Beaulet Editeur, 2008.

Ayroles, François. Mon Killoffer de poche. Paris : L’Association, 2006.

Baladi, Alex. Encore un effort. Paris : L’Association, 2009.

Cauvin, Raoul, Pauvre Lampil. Marcinelle : Dupuis, 1977.

Cestac, Florence. Comment faire de la bédé sans passer pour un pied nickelé. Paris : Dargaud, 1998.

Cestac, Florence. La Véritable histoire de Futuropolis. Paris : Dargaud, 2007.

Cestac, Florence. La Vie d’artiste. Paris : Dargaud, 2002.

Clerc, Serge. Journal. Paris : Denoël, 2008.

Clowes, Daniel. Pussey ! Paris : Rackham, 2002.

Crumb, Robert. Mes problèmes avec les femmes. Paris : Cornelius, 2007.

Davodeau, Etienne. L’Atelier. Montreuil : PMJ-Les Rêveurs, 2002.

Dupuy et Berberian. Journal d’un album. Paris : L’Association, 1994.

Eisner, Will. Le Rêveur. Paris : Delcourt, 2009.

Fabcaro. La Clôture. Saint-Jean de Vedas : 6 pieds sous terre, 2009.

Fromental, Jean-Luc et Stanislas. Les Aventures d’Hergé. Paris : Reporter, 2007.

Gaudelette, Michel. La Vie des festivals. Paris : Fluide Glacial, 2001.

Guillevic, Joëlle, Le Journal de Joe Manix. Poitiers : Flblb, 2009.

Horrocks, Dylan. Hicksville. Paris : L’Association, 2002.

James et la Tête X. Les Mauvaises humeurs. Saint-Jean de Vedas : 6 pieds sous terre, 2007.

Killoffer. 676 apparitions de Killoffer. Paris : L’Association.

Larcenet, Manu. Critixman. Montreuil : Les Rêveurs, 2006.

Long, Guillaume. Comme un poisson dans l’huile. Paris : Vertige Graphic, 2002.

Malher, Nicolas. L’Art selon madame Goldgruber and L’Art sans madame Golgruber, Paris : L’Association.

Matt, Joe. Le Pauvre type. Paris : Delcourt, 2001.

Matt, Joe. Strip-tease. Paris : Le Seuil, 2004.

Menu, Jean-Christophe. Livret de phamille. Paris : L’Association, 1995.

Neaud, Fabrice. Journal (4 tomes). Angoulême : Ego comme x.

Ohba, Tsugumi. Bakuman. Paris : Kana, 2010.

Osamu Tezuka. Biographie. Paris : Casterman, 2004.

Pekar, Harvey, American splendor. New York City : Ballantine Books.

Roosevelt, José. Juanalberto Dessinator. Antony : La Boîte à bulles, 2007.

Seth. La Vie est belle malgré tout. Paris : Delcourt, 1998.

Sfar, Joann. Harmonica (one of the Carnets de Joann sfar, 9 tomes). Paris : L’Association, 2002.

Smolderen, Thierry. Bramanti, Jean-Philippe. McCay. Paris : Delcourt, 2004.

Spiegelman, Art, Breakdowns. Paris : Casterman, 2008.

Taniguchi, Jiro. Un zoo en hiver. Paris : Casterman, 2009.

Tatsumi, Yoshihiro. Une vie dans les marges. Paris : Cornelius, 2011.

Trondheim, Lewis. Carnets de bord. Paris : L’Association, 2002.

Trondheim, Lewis. Désoeuvré. Paris : L’Association, 2005.

Yann and Léturgie Simon. Spirou dream team. Marcinelle : Dupuis, 2011.

Zep. Le Portrait dessiné. Grenoble : Glénat, 2010.

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