Tom Spurgeon entrevista a Bart Beaty en Comicsreporter. Beaty, al que Spurgeon considera el mejor teórico en inglés sobre tebeos europeos, es Profesor Asociado en la Facultad de Comunicación y Cultura de la Universidad de Calgary, lleva años trabajando en la columna Euro-Comics For Beginners de la revista teórica The Comics Journal, escribe también para la propia Comicsreporter y además ha publicado este año su libro UNPOPULAR CULTURE, del que ya hablamos en su momento aquí mismo. Durante la conversación con Spurgeon, Beaty habla de su colección de tebeos (en el sótano, los americanos; en el comedor, los europeos: franceses, alemanes, españoles, italianos, portugueses...), de cómo procura cambiar la voz y el tono -más o menos académico- según dónde va a publicar sus artículos, del impacto del manga en el panorama del cómic europeo, de los autores finlandeses, y también del tema principal de estudio de UNPOPULAR CULTURE: la ascensión de la generación actual de la BD francesa, los Sfar, Trondheim y demás.
Algunos highlights de la entrevista a Beaty en Comicsreporter:
Sobre el impacto de PERSÉPOLIS de Marjane Satrapi y su relación con la percepción francesa de los emigrantes:
"(...) I'd have to say that if Marjane Satrapi had not existed in real life at this point in time, the French would've had to invent her. So much recent discussion in France has been about French identity and new immigrant populations, particularly Muslim immigrants. These discussions have flared up around the riots of 2005, this year's presidential election, and, in 2004, around the decision in France to ban the wearing of veils in French schools. Satrapi, whose book talks extensively about the politics of the veil that she was forced to wear during the Islamic Revolution in Iran, was quickly caught up in the debate. She came out opposed to the veil but also opposed to the law that had been proposed by Jacques Chirac, a pretty nuanced position born out of her own experiences (a good article in The Guardian provides her position).
I think for a lot of French critics, Satrapi is the "good" middle-Eastern immigrant. She speaks French, is dedicated to a secular society, fits in nicely with notions of Frenchness (although she is still very critical of many aspects of French life). She's a model of integration. And her work touches on so many issues that are so important in France right now: identity, personal history, and so on.
I don't want to seem to suggest, however, that she only has this platform because of the politics of who she is. I think that the work has to have value for people to respond this strongly to it, and I think that she is an intelligent and important voice."
Sobre las posibles causas de la revolución de la generación de L' Association, de por qué según él esa ola ya se ha calmado y no ve un relevo generacional ahora mismo con el mismo ímpetu renovador:
"One thing that my book is really about is this giant wave of cartoonists who were in their 20s in the 1990s and who kicked down a lot of our assumptions about what comics were or could be. Now some of those people are passing into their 40s and suddenly they're thinking "comics is a young person's game" and wondering how they're going to pay the bills for their kids. So I think that some of the energy of the movement that I wrote about will naturally dissipate or be redirected elsewhere. But I haven't really gotten a strong sense that the next generation has arrived. There are great next generation cartoonists, to be sure, but I'm not sure that they are feeling the same need to overthrow the generation that preceded them. There's a certain lack of revolution in the air right now, largely because I think that the comics scene is very permissive."
Beaty compara los cómics autobiográficos de uno y otro lado del océano:
"That said, I'm not always sure why Europe turned out so many great autobiographers in contrast to the U.S. I think that one of the differences is a greater level of self-reflection and less straight reportage. A lot of North American autobio material is very story driven, even among the greats (I'm thinking of Joe Matt or Joe Sacco). Whereas if you look at Epileptic [La Ascensión del Gran Mal] or Fabrice Neaud's work, it is much more introspective and uses the medium in a more expressive manner. I don't think that is a function of these artists being European so much as it is that they set a very high standard for the form, and now subsequent artists feel a need to try to match their accomplishment."
Sobre la polémica de Jean Christophe Menu (L' Association), acerca de cómo las grandes editoriales se aprovechan ahora de los hallazgos de los autores independientes que triunfaron durante los noventa:
"Without trying to put words into Menu's mouth, I think he sees the very real possibility that the big publishers could wipe out the movement that my book talks about. Here's the nightmare scenario: Big, well-financed publisher X comes along and says "Hmm. These small press guys get a lot of good reviews and critical acclaim, and some of them make some money. I bet we could sign them up and maybe have the next Persepolis on our hands." Certainly Big Company X (BCX) could probably outbid L'Asso for the talents of a lot of cartoonists. But will BCX sign up everyone? No. They would want the biggest names, the artists with the best chance of breaking through. That would leave L'Asso and the other small press publishers with all the real difficult material, and likely not enough revenue to survive. The success of Persepolis funds a lot of L'Asso's riskier material, just as the success of Peanuts funds a lot of what Fantagraphics can do. If Satrapi left, L'Asso would have a big problem, maybe even a fatal one."