A Foray Into European Graphic Novels – An Introduction
Like many people in the UK who grew up with their heads buried in graphic novels, my early years were dominated by the giants of the British and American comic industry. My imagination was entirely filled with exactly the sort of superheroes and heroines that have become forever assocated with the medium. Being lucky enough to see the heydays of 2000AD, and the stories its authors and artists produced for the big American publishers across the pond, it never really occured to me to cast my net any further or seek out the stories being told in other corners of the world. Of course, the comic industry today is a very different beast to the one I grew up with. Japanese titles now occupy almost as much shelf space in retailers as our own, and fans are familiar enough with their enormous catalogue to render a blog entitled ‘A Foray into Manga’ almost entirely pointless.
However, throughout all this time, there existed a healthy European graphic industry, happily chugging away to itself on the mainland; paying little attention to the style and accepted practices of either the Anglo-American, or the Japanese markets. There were, of course, occassional times that a European comic series would break ground on this side of the channel, as happened with Tintin or Asterix, but these were rare and only ever represented a small portion of what was produced or a fraction of the European style. Also, given our own prejudices towards the medium, it could almost be guaranteed that anything that wasn’t aimed towards teens or younger was going to be overlooked.
So it is that someone like myself, who has probably read more graphic novels than is acceptable to admit in mixed company, comes to an entire sector of the industry that is a complete unknown. If the difficulty of obtaining such titles is anything to go by, then I suspect it is something that will be unfamiliar to a quite a number of people.
…Next time: Thorgal: Child of the Stars
Photo used courtesy of Dylan Parker