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Lynda Takes the Line for A Walk — Abstract for the Transitions 8 Conference

Lynda Takes the Line for A Walk: Attitudes and Philosophies of Drawing in Lynda Barry’s Comics

Transitions 8, 10 November, Birkbeck, University of London (detailed program)

Lynda Barry’s What It Is (2008), Picture This (2009), and Syllabus (2014) are not simply educational or self-help books on making comics, they reveal Barry’s theory about drawing and about creation. In my presentation I examine what Barry’s explanatory texts, creative exercises, and autobiographical comics inserts reveal about her philosophy of drawing.

In her exercises designed for either students or readers to engage in making drawings, Barry emphasizes the importance of bodily engagement in thinking and in creation. This idea appears in comics scholarship as well, but, unlike scholars, Barry thinks of the line as a trace of one’s personality. This way Barry engages in an ongoing discourse on the authenticity/conventional nature of the line in comics. Authenticity in non-fiction storytelling has become possibly the most overinvestigated term in the study of comics autobiography and journalism, but the relationship between the line and the drawer and the line and the story has not been studied that much.

While approaching Barry’s work, I reach back to theories of drawing by Jan Baetens, Hillary Chute, Jared Gardner, Simon Grennan, Philippe Marion, Nick Sousanis, and parallel theories in contemporary approaches to drawing in contemporary art, namely by Karen Kurczynski, Elizabeth A. Pegram, Katherine Stout. Philip Rawson’s Drawing and Laura U. Marks’ recent article “I Feel Like an Abstract Line” have shaped my understanding of the line and provide the starting point of my analysis of Barry’s work.s

As the title of the presentation hints, I believe Barry’s idea of drawing a line is closely related to that of Paul Klee. I will show that, similarly to Klee, Barry considers the line as a partner of the drawer. I also offer close readings of some of the drawing exercises Barry designed for her students and for the reader, and these pages will serve as prompts to illustrate the already mentioned theories on the nature of the drawn line.

barry what it is 157

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Roundtables on Literary adaptation comics and animation

The Hungarian Literature Copyright Protection Association and Rights management is organizing a two-day conference on the works and heritage of Jenő Rejtő. The event has two roundtables featuring comics artists, and I will be moderating both. What is more, the location of the conference is at a pub, which is the most fitting place to talk about Rejtő’s novels.

Rejtő was a journalist and writer who died in 1943 in a forced labor camp. His novels are witty, funny, really crazy. The status of his works in the Hungarian literary canon is debated by many, especially by those who prefer the strict separation of high literature and lowbrow whatever. I personally do not agree with that, and I admire the syntax and humor of Rejtő’s sentences and his crazy weird plots. I also believe that he could be nicer to women, but I think that is true to most works from his era. 🙂

Rejtő’s novels have been really influential in the history of Hungarian comics. His novels were adapted into the medium of comics by Tibor Cs. Horváth during state socialism. The most successful artist to draw Rejtő-comics was Pál Korcsmáros. Recently, the heirs of Korcsmáros republish digitally reworked versions of the original comics. The artists making these, Zsolt Garisa and Zoltán Varga, will be the guests of the first roundtable, as well as Márton Hegedűs, who proposed to make a comic on Rejtő’s life, though hasn’t received funding yet. (Are there any future patrons among the readers of this post who would support this project?). The final participant of the discussion is Zoltán Ádám Szabó, whose writings on comics I adore. Btw, Rejtő’s novels are adapted into comics even today, the most recent (and hilarous) publication is The Kidnapped Messenger by Ferenc Kiss and Zsolt Garisa.

The second roundtable on Thursday will be on an animation film in the making, the guests will be director Ferenc Varsányi, art director Dávid Cserkuti, and Péter Gelencsér film cirtic.

 

 

Kids’n’Comics – Exhibition opening

I had the honor to open the Kids’n’Comics (Kölykök és képregények) exhibition at the Deák 17 Youth Art Gallery on 7 Sept 2018. The exhibition has been curated by Bianka Zsigó, and it features the works of contemporary Hungarian comics artists. Here are some pictures from the opening ceremony — you can still visit this rich and entertaining exhibition till 27 Oct 2018.

Exhibiting artists:
Baranyai András l Bernát Barbara l Cserkuti Dávid l Csordás Dániel l Felvidéki Miklós l Fritz Zoltán l Fritz-Majer Nóra l Ghyczy Csongor l Halter András l Kárpáti Tibor l Koska Zoltán l Kovács Viktória l Lanczinger Mátyás l Lakatos István l Oravecz Gergely l Pásztor Alexa l Sárdi Katalin l Stark Attila l Takács Anikó

Catalog of Hungarian Comics I edited has been published

The bilingual catalog on the history of Hungarian comics that I edited in June has been published! And it is beautiful! Thanks to Judit Vincze for the amazing design!

The catalog is based on the material of our Comics as Narrative exhibition in the National Széchényi Library (14 May – 28 July 2018), and it provides a richly illustrted survey on Hungarian comics on 84 pages. The book is divided into two major sections, one on the history, and another one on the current tendencies of Hungarian comics. The short supporting texts were written by the curators of the exhibition, Ágnes Anikó Patonai, Rita Szűts-Novák, and myself.

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On the structure of the volume:

Our introduction reaches back to word and image relations in the baroque emblem, and we also show the beginnings of Hungarian comics in 19th century magazine culture.

Literary adaptation comics were a defining tendency in the history of our comics, and several subchapters are devoted to this characteristic tendency that started in the 1950s. I really like the subchapter when different versions are placed next to each other: adaptations of the same novels by different artists are in dialogue, and so are draft and printed versions of the same page. We also devote a section to one of the most celebrated original author behind these adaptations, Jenő Rejtő, and to the afterlife of adaptation comics in the 1980s and onwards.

Literature is an important inspiration for contemporary Hungarian comics, and so is the quality of self-expression, which is most often associated with poetry (at least in Hungary). The subsections focus on two significant topics in the contemporary scene, alternative realities as in dreams, nightmares and fantasy, and metacomics.

And, as I have said, everything is available in English, not only in Hungarian. 🙂

Thanks for the artists and colleagues who made this amazing catalog possible!

 

My review of Simon Grennan’s A Theory of Narrative Drawing is out in INKS

To reveiw Simon’s Grennan book has been my greatest accomplishment recently. It is a book that you either put away instantly or you immense yourself into it by taking notes and by constantly using google. I elaborate in detail why Simon’s model and demonstration of narrative drawing is indeed seminal, and I also say that the book demands maybe too much from the reader.

On a personal note, this book is important for me as my upcoming monograph is also about drawing, at least the first part, and I think that my view on drawing and Simon’s view on drawing are very close.

So here is the review:  muse.jhu.edu/article/698085

inks

Csepella Olivér: Nyugat + Zombik kritika online

Elérhető az Alföld folyóirat honlapján az áprilisban megjelent kritikám, amit Csepella Olivér Nyugat+ Zombik című képregényéről írtam.

Szerettem ezt írni, mert a sok hibája ellenére jó érzés egy olyan képregényről gondolkodni, amely maga is gondolkodik, és egy olyan képregényről mondani valamit, aminek van mondanivalója.

alfoldonline.hu/2018/07/kepregeny-a-kolteszet-hatalmarol/

“A képregénynek értelmezésemben két tétje van: a frappáns alapötletet az olvasóközönség érdeklődését fenntartva végigvezetni kétszázhatvan oldalon, valamint a megidézett nyugatosok nyelvi és kulturális örökségét a 21. század kultúrafogyasztói számára aktualizálni.”

“A képregény második részét olvasva az az ember érzése, hogy a szerző túl sok ötletét igyekezett belezsúfolni a képregény oldalaiba, és nem szánt elegendő helyet ahhoz, hogy ötletei érvényesülhessenek. Emiatt a zsúfoltság miatt a vizuális poénok, átkötések és viccek egy része első ol­vasáskor sajnos szintén elsikkad, hiszen az olvasó nem ezek észrevételére, hanem a cselekmény fonalának megtalálására fordítja energiáit.”

“A Nyugat + Zombik egyenetlenségeivel együtt is egy kreatív vizuális gondolkodó és nagykedvű történetmesélő szórakoztató munkája, ami sok kultúrafogyasztónak mutathatja meg a képregényes kifejezésmódban rejlő lehetőségeket és a kép­regény­olva­sás örömét, ezzel segítve a képregény médiumának értőbb elfogadását.”

Roundtables

A) Last week (24 May) I was invited to be a participant of a roundtable on the use of popular culture in the classroom, particularly using science fiction in the teaching of literature. The issue has been raised by many educators more qualified to do so than me, as the situation is that Hungarian teenagers have to read a great number of dated texts that border on the unbearable both in terms of narrative techniques and unattractive storylines. This roundtable addressed the issue from an SF angle, plus I was constantly referring to comics and statistics on comics, and, of course, SF comics.

It was in Hungarian, and can be watched here.

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B) This week I’ll participate in a roundtable on the history of comics in Hungary. This is an event linked to the Comics as Narrative/Kép-regény-történet exhibition I was co-curating. It will take place at the National Széchényi Library on 31 May, starting at 5 pm. oszk.hu/konyvtarlat/konyvtarlat-vii-9-jatek-es-kepregeny

The National Library also made a short interiew with me (in Hungarian): link.