Whole Lot of Preening Going On These Days, Not So Much Substance

Cynthia Rose is here with a report on "The Golden Age of Belgian Comics", an impressive exhibit of comics art from the Museum of Fine Arts in Liège now on display in France.

Their pages detail a comics revolution, the era when – led by Tintin – the ninth art forever changed leisure on the continent.

Its big names are the gods of this particular origin myth: Hergé (Tintin); Edgar P. Jacobs (Blake & Mortimer); André Franquin (Gaston Lagaffe and Idées Noires); Peyo (Les Schtroumpfs – the Smurfs); Maurice Tillieux (Gil Jourdan); Morris (Lucky Luke); Raymond Macherot (Chlorophylle and Sibylline); Didier Comès (Silence) and Willy Lambil (Les Tuniques Bleues).

Their tale is as unlikely as it is significant. Few of these artists had dreamed of working in anything like cartooning. Whether it was a life at sea, fine art or detective fiction, their first ambitions were a reaction to the Belgium where they grew up. Society there was mostly sober, parochial and largely Catholic. But then came the World War II, Occupation and Liberation – the first utterly traumatizing, the latter establishing a Euro-dependence on its "liberator."

From films to comics, cars to clothes, all of Europe felt the pull of post-War US style. But, within a decade, these artists managed to fuse it with a European and Francophone experience. Certainly the best of them – Hergé, Franquin, Morris, and Macherot – drew like geniuses. But it was really thanks to insight, intuition and sheer insouciance that they transformed modest genre stories into something all their own. They gave the European comic an architecture much of which remains with it today.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Paul Morton writes about Drawn & Quarterly's 25th anniversary for The Millions.

At Hyperallergic, Anthony Cuday writes about Kris Mukai and Aidan Koch, and pays a lot more attention to their art than most comics critics tend to do...

Loren Lynch writes about Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine de Landro's Bitch Planet for The Nation.

Rob Clough on minicomics.

—Interviews & Profiles. Karen O'Brien talks to Glenn Head. Head then writes about his own experiences with underground comics for CBS.

CBR talks to Alex Robinson.

—Misc. This story on cult author Dennis Cooper (who also co-created the experimental graphic novel Horror Hospital with Keith Mayerson) explains his attempt to create a "novel" formed from gifs. This strikes me as one possible path forward for comics, or at least it's not entirely unrelated.

—Crowdfunding. Longtime inker Bob Wiacek is in need of financial help after a bad fall.

The Women Write About Comics site is running an indiegogo campaign and is close to its goal.