Compendium of Francobelgian Comics

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Compendium of Francobelgian Comics
Author Ilan Manouach
Language French
Publisher La Cinquième Couche, Forlaens, L'Endroit, Fortepressa, Hélice Hélas, Topovoros, Antilope, Gnat (18€)
City Brussels, Copenhagen, Rennes, Rome, Athens, Veuvey, São Paulo, Tel Aviv
Year 2018
Pages 48
ISBN 978-2-39008-018-3
E-book PDF (51 mb)

Compendium of Francobelgian Comics (Abrégé de bande dessinée franco-belge) was published in 2018 in book catalogues of eight publishers in Europe and elsewhere. Abrégé was built following the precepts of ontography, a model of conceptual representation for objects theorized by video game designer and OOO philosopher Ian Bogost. Compendium presents a visual a personal typology of graphemes drawn from a shared reservoir of the Franco-Belgian bande dessinée tradition, where one can find a variety of comics proto-memes, metanarrative devices, paratextual elements and building blocks of the European BD.

Compendium of Franco-Belgian Comics takes as its starting point the 48CC comic book format. The name, contemptuously christened by the alternative publisher l’Association, points to the product of a normative and just-in-time book industry that dominates the French speaking publishing industry. During a single afternoon, I purchased from second hand shops a selection of forty-eight 48CC books and after a careful reading I built a non-exhaustive idiosyncratic index of elements considered to generally define the tradition of Franco-Belgian comics. Among a variety of comics proto-memes, metanarrative devices, paratextual elements and other hovering dark clouds, shark wings, identity stereotypes and body-shaped holes, Compendium presents an orchestral comic book, where instantiations of this typology, freed from the imperatives of specific narratives can be read as the in situ building blocks of the European BD.

Compendium invites readers to forensically parse the cited works by foregrounding as in for themselves the heterogeneous objects of a local comics industry. It points toward the constitution of new practices of indexation. It uses the concept of the ontograph as a way to present comics as objects, without requiring an interpretation that comes from the elucidation of the original narrative functionalities, or having to demonstrate the referential significance of distinct narrative units and building blocks. By merely charting the networks among reading experiences, Compendium provides a virtually present construct of relational juxtapositions and claims the irreducibility of objects to their effects or compounds. Compendium argues for the necessity of different modes of reading in relation to comics by exemplifying how combined modes of an approach to a text can allow new works to develop. Its objects are freed from the imperatives of the specific narrative in which they were initially implemented, and from the correlations implied by storytelling functionalities. Similar to an autopsy, the distinct narrative units and the building blocks of the Franco-Belgian comics tradition are laid bare, emerging and imposing themselves as dense singularities.