Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Barthélémy Schwartz's, Balthazar Kaplan's and Others' Dorénavant - Coda










1. Thierry Lagarde's STP # 0 (cover; first quarter, 1977); I don't share Lagarde's taste, obviously;
2. Bruno Lecigne's Controverse # 1 (cover; May, 1985);
3. "Accident" by Barthélémy Schwartz (Dorénavant # 3, September, 1986); the work is not only the graphic part (an Hergé's détournement), but also the Balthazar Kaplan's explanation (5; my translation): "In this page (a remake of a sequence from L'affaire Tournesol [the Calculus affair] by Hergé), the global surface is considered. The division, by its austerity, puts in relation every image with the whole. The result is an impression of echoes between panels, of visual rhymes which emphasize the scene's dramatic tension.
The link between the images is not exclusively narrative. It partakes in a superior logic: the dialectics between the fragment and the whole. Every image is a fragment of the scene. The latter can only be felt by a global vision of the page, by a synthesis of the fragments.
It also gives an impression of rhythm: the time represented is a syncopated one.
The pleasure of reading: this page functions as a whole. We may scan it endlessly in all directions. It contains both emotion and vertigo."; Balthazar Kaplan describes what Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle dubbed the tabular reading ("Du lineaire au tabulaire" - from the linear to the tabular -, Communications # 24, Seuil, 1976: 7 - 23); it exists in every comic, but it's also true that some comics artists (mainly with a tendency for description: e. g.: Guido Crepax; or practicing what Thierry Gröensteen called "tressage" - braiding -: Système de la bande dessinée, PUF, 1999: 8) stress it more than others; I would say that Schwartz's page is innovative in another way rather than as an example of the tabular: it's a synchronic instead of a diachronic page; it invites a vertical instead of an horizontal reading, amplifying the emotional charge of the event;
4. the first thirty titles and authors in a list of a Dorénavant's putative comics anthology; the first seven entries belong to the restrict comics field; number eight is a poster, but, from number nine on, all the entries belong to what I called the expanded field and Barthélémy Schwartz described as "bande-dessinée non consciente de son existence en tant que telle" (comics without a conscience of being comics; "Dorénavant et la bande-dessinée," Dorénavant # 2, June, 1986: 5; my translation);
5. number ten in the aforementioned list: Textuel (textual) by Michel Seuphor and Piet Mondrian (1928); speaking of which, Barthélémy Schwartz: "in [Broadway] Boogie-Woogie, the gutter plays an active role, like images themselves." (Dorénavant # 2: 20; my translation);
6. poster announcing a Dorénavant exhibition (Dorénavant # 2) and showing Joost Swarte's influence;
7. satirical drawing by Frank Le Gall (Les cahiers de la bande dessinée # 70, July / August, 1986), it isn't clear who's being satirized: Schwartz and Kaplan, who supposedly wrote a "difficult" book about the gestalt theory?; or the comics milieu (personified by Louis Forton's the Pieds Nickelés) which is too stupid to understand them?;
8. Jean-Christophe Menu was the managing editor of the satirical mag Globof (# 9's cover by Charles Berberian, January, 30, 1988); it mainly made fun of the Angoulême comics con; two years later Labo was published (Barthélémy Schwartz participated with the text "Une période de nuit, l’idéologie bédé" - a night period, children's comics ideology): L'Association was born and the rest is history;
9. Matt Konture's page (Globof # 8's back cover; January, 29, 1988) satirizing the low standards of comics readers (children, young adults, old hippies and babymen); the comics author herein depicted is forced to sell-out "juste pour buffer" (just to eat).


TheChris Beneke said...

Great to see scans of the original zines. I still treasure my printouts of the Dorenavant pages from a defunct ab irato site of the late '90s (archive.org's wayback machine retains mmuch of that website).

Would like to know how much Dorenavant material is published in the second volume of l'Eprouvette? My french was never good and has only gotten worse, but I remain intrigued by these unmet challenges to the status quo comics thinking.

Apologies if this second comment attempt replicates an earlier attempt. Just set up my googled identity to write you... and it doesn't like me.

Isabelinho said...

Hey Chris:

Unfortunately there's not much in L'éprouvette, but more than that, it lacks, above all, the DIY feeling (the writing machine fonts, for instance) + the comics and exhibition advertisements.

TheChris Beneke said...

Thanks for the (disappointing) info about the coverage in L'eprouvette: it does save me an expensive (and probably disappointing) purchase, however.

I've always appreciated those basic Courier (typewriter) fonts and anyone who is hyper-aware of the way things (words or pictures) look on a page might rewrite or re-break a line based on that sensitivity...and probably did.

Perhaps Dorenavant's creators would authorize a scan of the original zine materials?

I was surprised and pleased by archive.org's The Anarchist Library, which contains full texts of Hakim Bey/Peter Lamborn Wilson and others.

Isabelinho said...

Oh, but I highly recommend L'éprouvette, the whole three issues. If you have no prob with the French, that is. When I said before that there's not much in L'éprouvette, I meant to say that there's not much compared to the total output of Dorénavant. What's in there is more than enough to, at least, give an idea of what it was all about.

A fac-simile edition would be possible, I'm sure, but who would buy such a thing?

TheChris Beneke said...

I linked to this page in a recent, but apparently not ongoing, discussion on a DCM forum: I don't follow contemporary superhero comics, so these missing-thought-balloons complaints were news to me.


More relevant to the concerns here is my link to archive.org's wayback machine's collection of Dorenavant materials:


Following links from this page should mostly work, though some pages and images don't seem to have been archived.

Perhaps other searchers for Dorenavant critiques, which remain prescient...or ignored...or both, will find this helpful.

Still saving $$ for an eventual purchase of the Eprouvette boxset.

Do you know Hal Rammel's Aero comics?

Isabelinho said...

Thanks a lot, Chris!

Isabelinho said...

Sorry Chris: I couldn't see your email. You may sent it to me. I will not publish it.