On 24-25 May I’ll be one of the respondents at the Performativity Conference 2019, an event organized by the Narratives of Culture and Identity Research Group. Though I am a founding member of this group, I could not take part in organizing this event because of my really intensive work on the 15th International Comics Festival at Budapest.
However, I am really happy to be able to take part as a respondent, and I cannot wait to hear the inspiring papers. Book of abstracts and schedule are available here.
I got interviewed by one of the coolest Hungarian websites devoted to SF, Próza Nostra, on the occasion that I was the main organizer of the 15th International Comics Festival of Budapest. Contrary to the past 14 years, when the festival meant basically a single Sunday packed with programmes, this year I made the festival last for 5 days. On the first four evenings there were cultural programs (two exhibitions and two roundtables), and the fifth day was a big fair + workshops + talks / interviews.
I am really happy that Próza Nostra interviewed me because it is a rare acknowledgement of my work as organizer, and because the questions were really clever and instead of asking me to recommend programs I was asked to reflect on tendencies in the Hungarian comics scene + broader bookish culture. Thank you!
3/1 I have survived the busiest couple of months of my life. I have been the main organizer of the 5-day (!) 15th International Comics Festival, Budapest. I have also become the chair of the Ninth Art Foundation, a foundation working on promoting comics culture in Hungary. Here is our festival poster, drawn by Miklós Felvidéki, and below are some details:
3/2 As part of the Comics Festival, I curated an exhibition based on the works of three amazing artists who won comics prices last year, Miklós Felvidéki, Olivér Csepella and József Sváb. I gave it the broad title of “A World Hidden in Panels” and I hope that many people who visit Restro Puskin will like the pictures on the walls. The exhibition was opened by András Beck on 10 May 2019.
3/3 On the third day of the comics festival, I had the honor of opening Márk László’s comics exhibition, Very Bad Dreams. I just love Márk’s works.
Moving Images: Comics and Travel (conference) 5 July 2019 Oxford Comics Network University of Oxford
other dimensions, mapping alien lands, and exploring the unknown both within
the the mind and in one’s (new) environment are common topics of SF comics, yet
in Jesse Jacobs’ comics these topics are handled in very different ways. In By
This Shall You Know Him (2012), Safari Honeymoon (2014), and Crawl
Space (2017), neither space nor creatures are static, they are constantly
in a state of becoming. Their morphing is paradoxically simultaneously organic
and mechanical, it is actual and hallucinatory.
I argue in my
paper that the never-ending morphing of biological and constructed forms is
just as important in exploring the motif of travel as is an actual narratable
and verbally constructed story (of gods practicing creation in By This,
of a couple exploring a jungle in Safari, and of a new dimension in
one’s washing machine in Crawl). I use close reading to analyze the
organic changes of alien life forms’ bodies and alien dimensions, and I show
that these transformations are guided by the changes of panel design and
by the geometry of the page, and not simply by a plotline.
Honeymoon and Crawl Space, travelling does not simply happen in
space or between dimensions, it also takes place within different forms of
creatures who are constantly in transition. Jacobs’ amazing visual logic uses
repetition, sequencing, isolation, morphing, as well as playing with
representing multidimensional spaces and reinterpreting what makes a figure a
figure. In his most recent work, Crawl Space, colour is added to this
experimental visuality, by which Jacobs does not simply represent the journey
or psychedelic trip of the characters, but invites readers to think of comics
narratives and narration in new, not easily verbalizible ways.
The paper relies on secondary works by James Elkins, Jared Gardner, Simon Grennan, Charles Hatfield, among others.
2018: The year most of my projects bloomed, when I finished my PhD, when I reworked my PhD thesis into a book (added 2 chapters, took one away) (to be published in 2020). In terms of non-academic achievements, I organized (almost alone) the comics festival in May, co-curated a major exhibition on comics in the National Széchényi Library, opened Hungary’s first community comics library. Basically a year when I worked my arse off.
1.Books I Edited
Turning The Page. Gendered Identities in Contemporary Literary and Visual Cultures. Ed. Kata Gyuris, Eszter Szép and Dóra Vecsernyés. L’Harmattan, Budapest. Download link.
2018 [Exhibition catalog, bilingual] Kép-regény-történet: A kilencedik művészet ikonjai Magyarországon. Ed. Eszter Szép. Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, Budapest, 2018.
2. Articles and Reviews in English
“Kids’n’Comics: An Equation with Variables to Rearrange.” Kids’n’Comics Exhibition Catalog, D17 Gallery, 2018. pp. 10-12.
“A review of Simon Grennan: A Theory of Narrative Drawing. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 277 pp, 96,29 €.” INKS – The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, Summer 2018, pp. 261-264.
“A review of The Materiality of Writing. A Trace-Making Perspective. Edited by Christian Mosbæk Johaannessen and Theo van Leeuwen.” Image & Narrative. online.
“A review of Unflattening, Nick Sousanis (2015), Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 208 pp., ISBN: 9780674744431, p/bk, £18.95.” Studies in Comics 8.2. 262-264.
“Ben Katchor: A képregény túllép a próza kifejezési lehetőségein” [The title is in Hungarian, but the interview is in English] Ben Katchor: Conversations. Ed. Ian Gordon. University Press of Mississippi, 2018, pp. 152-154.
3. Articles and Reviews in Hungarian
“Metacomics: Poetics of Self-Reflection in Comics” [Metaképregény: Az önreflexivitás képregényes poétikái”][This is the Hungarian version of my article in Studies in Comics featuring examples taken from H. comics.]Intézményesülés, elbeszélések, médiumok: Tendenciák a kortárs magyar képregényben és képregénykutatásban II. ed. Ferenc Vincze, Szépirodalmi Figyelő Alapítvány, 2018, pp. 95-119.
“Kölykök + képregények: egy régóta rendezésre váró egyenlet.” Kölykök + képregények kiállításkatalógus, D17 Galéria, 2018, pp. 7-9.
“Setting a Limit on Fantasy.” [in Hungarian. Original title: “A fantáziának határt szabni.”] Szépirodalmi Figyelő no. 3, 2018, pp. 100-104.
“Comics on the Power of Poetry: Nyugat + Zombik by Olivér Csepella.” [in Hungarian. Original title: “Képregény a költészet hatalmáról: Csepella Olivér: Nyugat + zombik.”] Alföld, vol. 69, no. 4, 2018, pp. 96-101.
“Comics Around the Globe Today: A Review of Gyula Maksa’s Comics in Intercultural Currents,” [ “A képregényről globálisan, ma: Maksa Gyula Képregények kultúraközi áramlatokban című könyvéről.”], Médiakutató vol. 19, no. 1, 2018, pp. 97-99.
Around two months ago Adam approached me with the idea of establishing a comics library. He had a vision of a bookshelf of comics donated by nice people. I immeditely loved the idea. We worked on it for two months. Discussed stuff. Made a Facebook page. The next thing we realized was that there are so many comics donated that there is no more place on our bookshelf and we need a new one. And within two days, someone donated a new bookshelf. This is how Hungary’s first comics library opened on 13 Dec.
Here are three things I particularly like about this project and that make me proud:
It is a community initiative. For me, this means two things: everything is done on a voluntary basis, and this initiative has the potential to create a community around comics. If you have followed the news about Hungary recently, you could not have missed the political dissatisfaction that is shared by most Hungarians, even by those who do not protest. The biggest challenge in living in Hungary now, the way I see it, is that communities have been eroded. People do not work together, do not discuss stuff. Everyone is an island, alone (as in Houellebecq’s novel), isolated by what he or she presumes about others, but has never discussed. Moreover, in Hungary people are often suspicious about causes: politics has way to often preyed on causes and gutted them. I have high hopes that this library can be a place for some people to be part of a community and that we can transform the cause of making this library happen into maintaining this library.
The library is located at Nem adom fel café, which translates as I don’t give up café. This is a special place, a community in itself: it is the first café of Budapest run by people with disabilities. They have been extremely welcoming from the first minute. Just like us, they would not have expected that we would open with nearly 400 copies of comics, really good ones, all donated. When it turned out that we need a second bookshelf, they immediately offered extra space for us to place it. I see a parallel between the perception of comics in Hungary and the perception of people. As comics are not visible (few bookshops sell them), people have only stereotypes about them: they are presumed to be non-serious and childish. But comics is more diverse than that. It is rich and interesting and multivocal. Just like people — and this is what Nem adom fel café shows to the world so perfectly. Get rid of your stereotypes, get to know the people and comics around you!
The third thing I like is personal: the experience of working with Adam. He has more experience of community initiatives than I do. I learn a lot about trust. And about the risk involved in trusting a community with making something happen: they might not take part, or some comics might mysteriously disappear. But so far everyone has been positive: we had a lot of shares and positive comments on social media, 3 major news sites shared news about us. And, the best of all, the people who came to the opening really understood what this thing is about: they stayed for hours, they were browsing the collection, and strangers started discussing comics. It was an amazing experience.
We are planning to have some programs, but I think just to announce some dates of silent reading together is as much fun as a more organized program.
Here is our Facebook page, link. You can also find a lot of photos of the opening ceremony, or, rather, opening comics reading.
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.