Loading

French and Francophone Comic Books at UF George A. Smathers Libraries

History of Bandes Dessinées

Bandes Dessinées, or comic books, are very popular in Europe and originated in France and Belgium in the early 19th century. The Bandes Dessinées, or BD for short, started as small comic strips intended mostly for the entertainment of young readers. BDs are a mixture of images and text that tell a story. It wasn’t until 1925, when Zig et Puce by Alain de Saint-Ogan was released, that BDs not only became more accessible to readers, but also more accepted as a valid art form in society.

"Tintin and friends greet Armstrong" by Daniel Bowen is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

The first release of a BD in the form of comic books, as opposed to just comic strips as we commonly know them today, came in 1929 with the publication of Hergé’s Tintin, reporter du “Petit Vingtième”, au pays des Soviets (Tintin, the Petit Vingtième’s Reporter, in the Land of the Soviets). The next big step in the era of BDs was the release in 1934 in France of Le Journal de Mickey created by Paul Winckler, which attracted more American-style comics into Western Europe. Interestingly, Le Journal de Mickey still exists in 2021 and is still going strong.

"File:Charleroi - station Janson - Boule et Bill - 01.jpg" by Jmh2o is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

Unfortunately, World War II made it difficult for many BDs to thrive and be published. In addition, postwar up to the early 1960’s was a low period for the BD notably because of the influence of Nazi collaboration and the 12 July 1949 French law that required a limit on imported materials that could be published. Starting in 1959, however, and the publication of the journal Pilote (created by René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo, and Jean-Michel Charlier), a new surge of comics emerged and have become iconic in today’s cultural lexicon. This golden age of BDs saw the arrival of French titles such as Astérix, Lucky Luke, and Iznogoud at a time where the traditional style of BDs was shifting to have more text and fewer drawings, overall.

"File:Charleroi - station Janson - Boule et Bill - 01.jpg" by Jmh2o is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

Today, BDs are still being released and continue to cater to various ages and interests. Various measures over the years in France have even helped to consecrate BDs as an art form with the Bande Dessinée now considered to be the “Neuvième Art” (Ninth Art) and the festival d’Angoulême consecrating the best bandes dessinées released every year. And while the bande dessinée is mostly associated with French and Belgian authors, other Francophone writers are gaining popularity in the BD world (Marjane Satrapi, Marcelino Truong, Michel Rabagliati, Barly Baruti, or Marguerite Abouet). Bandes dessinées are loved. In 2020, despite the pandemic, sales of BDs rose by 6% in France. One out of five books bought there is a bande dessinée. The future of the BD is looking very bright.

"Francobollo Gaston Lagaffe 2001" by Gianfranco Goria is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Keep scrolling to learn more about some of the bandes dessinÉes available at uf

Comics are divided by regions. Each section highlights a few select titles. Click on each title to find it in the UF's Library Catalog.

Thank you to the University of Florida's Center for the Humanities in the Public Sphere and the Center for European Studies, as well as the University of Florida France-Florida Research Institute, a Center of Excellence funded by the French Embassy. The grants each of them awarded us enabled us to expand our collection of bandes dessinées. The Cultural Services of the French Embassy also funded a guest speaker series from the France-Florida Research Institute, "Francophone Artists, Bandes Dessinées and Diasporic Graphics." All the sessions were recorded and are now available online in UF's Institutional Repository.

Europe

Emma becomes famous in 2017 on social media with her article “Fallait demander” which sheds light on mental charge in France. Her most recent release, Un autre regard sur le climat, focuses on global warming and proposes solutions, showing that we can all work together to change the world.

Riad Sattouf is a French-Syrian cartonnist most famously known for his series L’Arabe du futur. The series recounts Sattouf's childhood growing up in France, Libya and Syria in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. The first volume of L'Arabe du futur won the Fauve d’Or prize for best graphic novel at the Festival d'Angoulême in 2015. The series has been translated into 21 languages, making Sattouf internationally known.

First published in 1995, with new editions in 1997 and 2000, this book drawn in an experimental style has been designated as one of the most important comic books of the past thirty years and is emblematic of the rise of independent and alternative publishers in France. Nègres jaunes focuses on issues of race and France’s colonialist legacy and is also a very powerful and important look into the Harki (Algerian loyalist) as a victimizer and a forgotten war victim.

Luz is a former contributor of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. He is the one who drew the cover of the magazine for its first publication following the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015. In Catharsis, Luz talks about how this event changed his life as he recalls arriving late to work that day (it was his birthday) and turning up just in time to see the shooters leave. The book depicts his nightmares, his insomnia, and his doubts as to whether he will ever be able to draw again.

The French cartoonist, woman artist, is known for producing subversive works, which portray women and gender issues. She was one of the foremost socio-satirical cartoonists of her generation. One of her leitmotif character is Agrippine, an unimpressed and caricatural teenager of the 1990’s, who is dealing with existential questions, her sexuality, gossips, and fights with her parents. Agrippine is a humoristic view of the Parisian intellectual bourgeoisie and an avenue for Bretécher to not only use slang (“argot”) but to push things further and invent her own teenage slang. In 2001, Agrippine became a tv series for Canal Plus.

This autobiographical comic book, which deals with the author’s childhood, growing up with an epileptic brother (Haut Mal used to mean Epilepsy), received the Alph-Art du scénario at the Festival international de la bande dessinée d'Angoulême in 2000. In 2008, it was considered by the magazine Les Inrockuptibles one of the 100 indispensables comic books to have.

Africa

In 2016, Séraphin Kajibwami received the award for the best cartoonist from IRD, the “Initiative Régionale pour le Développement” (Regional Initiative for Development) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Les Diamants de Kamituga. This comic book shares a HIV/Aids prevention message while being a captivating thriller. 100,000 copies were distributed for free by the African Artists for Development.

This comic book contains eight investigations whose solution is only given in the very last pages for each. Commissaire Koro and Inspecteur Kouamé are the main investigators and take the readers throughout the Ivory Coast (post civil war), while also teaching us "nouchi", a local slang.

This comic book takes place in Central Africa during World War I. It features a story of a friendship between Gaston Mercier, an officer and a pilot in the Royal Belgian army, and Madame Livingstone, a kilt-wearing local who claims to be the métis son of famed Scottish explorer David Livingstone. It sheds light on a forgotten dimension of the Great War and the sociocultural complexity of colonial life in the Belgian Congo

This series of six comic books written by Marguerite Abouet and drawn by Clément Oubrerie (Abouet’s husband) was translated into English under the name Aya of Yop City. The story is based on the author's life in the Ivory Coast. The first album received the Prix du Meilleur premier album at the 2006 Festival international de la bande dessinée d'Angoulême. It is recommended by l’Education nationale in France as a book that middle schoolers in France should read. Aya de Yopougon was adapted into an animated film that was released in 2013.

With this thriller taking place in Abidjan, Marguerite Abouet offers a dark and violent book which focuses on many important topics such as homosexuality, prostitution, or the fracture between youth and older generations in the Ivory Coast.

North America

This is the third volume of the "non-adventures" series that Jimmy Beaulieu wrote on life in Montréal and Québec more broadly. This volume deals with ageing, youth, death and conflicts between the sexes.

The Canadian Francis Desharnais becomes famous in 2008 with the publication of Burquette. In 2011, he releases Motel Galactic. This science-fiction comic book was nominated for the "meilleure scénariste" prize of the 2012 Joe Shuster Awards and for the "Grand prix de la ville de Québec" for the 2011 Bédéis Causa.

This comic book deals powerfully with complexes linked to weight. Drawn entirely using a lead pencil, it sheds light on fat shaming in a very sensitive manner. La grosse laide received the Prix des libraries du Québec in 2020.

In 2021, the Quebec cartoonist received a Prix de la série by the Festival d’Angoulême for his latest publication Paul à la maison. He is the only Quebecer to have been decorated on two occasions by this prestigious comic strip festival. Published in 2019, Paul à la maison is the 9th volume of a series that started in 1999 with Paul à la campagne.

Franco-Asian Diaspora

Marcelino Truong grew up in the US, Vietnam, and the UK and now resides in France. He is the author and illustrator of several children's books as well as the author of several comic books. Une si jolie petite guerre tells the story of his childhood, growing up in Saigon in the 1960’s. Meanwhile Give peace a chance is about the life of his family during the war in Vietnam.

Clément Baloup has released several comic books focusing on Asian immigration issues. Quitter Saïgon for instance focuses on the exile of French Vietnamese people. Meanwhile, Little Saigon focuses on Vietnamese people living in the US. To write this book, Clément Baloup received money from the association Cultures France. His work has been translated into English, Spanish, Italian, German and can be regularly found in magazines.

Regional Languages

Several classic titles from Tintin and Astérix have been translated into a variety of regional languages such as Alsacien, Breton, Picard, Ch’ti or Occitan.

This website was created by Hélène Huet and Michelle Valoz, University of Florida.

Credits:

Created with an image by Capri23auto - "asterix obelix getafix"