Category Archives: Comic

Japanese Notebooks of an Italian

Who hasn’t? You rummage in a bookstore, and a work catches your eye that appeals to you and whose creator is unknown to you. Igort – short for Igor Tuver – an Italian comic artist born in Sardinia, was responsible for Japanese Notebooks: A Journey to the Empire of Signs. In it, the artist documented his years in Tokyo, where he has been drawing very popular mangas for various publishers since the 1990s.

And Igort’s style is versatile, as you can see in his Japanese notebooks. Half comic, half narrative, he guides us through his personal experience with his longer and shorter stays in Japan, and introduces us to Japanese history, stories and special features. He changes his drawing styles to match the respective narrative level.

Cover of Japanese Notebooks
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Duckenstein And His Duck Homunculus

For some time now, the French publishing house Glénat has been publishing a new series of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse comic albums that stand out in their quality. After wonderfully drawn volumes like Horrifikland or Mickey and the Lost Ocean, Duckenstein (English: Disney’s Frankenstein) is now coming out.

As can be seen from the title and cover picture, it is an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The story of fictional author Mary Shelduck follows Shelley’s plot very closely, with slight adaptations that make it less gloomy and lighter for a younger readership. Of course, all the well-known characters appear, such as Uncle Scrooge, Gladstone Gander, Daisy Duck, and the Donald Ducks nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Donald Duck himself Victor von Duckenstein. The plot itself is set partly in Ingolstadt and partly all over the world.

Cover Art Duckenstein
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YPS With Gimmick – A Walk Down Memory Lane

Occasionally childhood memories come to mind and make you wallow in nostalgia. For me as a primary school student in the 1970s, the most desirable weekly magazine was YPS with gimmick. This children’s magazine differed from all the others at the time in that each time a more worthless than valuable toy – the gimmick – was included.

This had to be assembled first, if it was anything made of plastic. Sometimes it was a powder or simply a plastic sheet, which were then imaginatively advertised as “primeval crabs” or “adventure tents”. Often they were scientific gimmicks, like a hygrometer – a moisture meter, which failed with me because I couldn’t find a hair long enough, and which would contract or expand with changes in humidity and would control it that way – or because other parts were missing, like the zeppelin, to which I had no helium. Or simply that the parents didn’t play along, like with the square eggs.

While the gimmicks were usually quickly broken again, the comics still remained in the booklet. And they were of different quality. There were some original comics that only appeared in the Yps, like Yinnie+Yan, a TV crew that had their wild adventures. Or Yps, which was also the name of a striped kangaroo.

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Sangre – A Girl Sees Red

A young girl with a rare gift makes one cut after the other to a priest to bleed him as painfully as possible. This is the introduction to a story by the bustling French scenarist Christophe Arleston and skilfully staged by Adrien Floch.

What begins with amazing brutality at the hands of the young Sangre has a history that goes back years. Her parents, who were wine merchants, were massacred by the Dark Skimmers, along with their caravan, in the fantastic world. The Skimmers use flying dragon creatures to attack their victims, slaughter them with magic and traditional weapons, and steal their belongings.

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The Eternaut – A Force of Argentinean Comic

By chance, in December I came across the Argentinean comic scenarist and journalist Héctor Germán Oesterheld, who was unknown to me until then. And what a sensational work this activist, who “disappeared” under tragic circumstances during the military dictatorship, has left behind.

Argentine National Library in Buenos Aires

While exploring Buenos Aires, I passed the Argentine National Library, a masterpiece of Brutalism, and while photographing I stumbled over the Comic Strip Museum behind it, which commemorated Oesterheld’s work with an exhibition. As small as the museum was, as traditional the exhibition was, the more interesting the exhibits were and the more my interest in the person grew.

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A Lord As A Patrolman

We imagine life as a lord, who thanks to generous family riches does not have to suffer, as a comfortable one. In the morning, i.e. rather at noon, we are awakened by the butler who serves us breakfast in bed with the morning paper, and after enjoying it to the fullest, we only have to slip into the ready and ironed clothes to indulge in polo, fox hunting or taking a stroll through the lush estates.

Far from it! The young and still green Lord Harold – the twelfth of that name – is an example of nobility with a passion. His is for the police, and that is where he wants to go. And not just to any district, where a lord is well-suited, but to the worst part of town, Blackchurch, where he is looking for a post. His wish is granted, and he is on the trail of a secret that leads him to mysterious deaths, a police station that seems to have a deal with the villains, and an inscrutable balance between villainous gangs. In the middle of all this is the pretty owner of a dive where all the threads come together.

Cover picture of “The Investigations of Lord Harold”
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In Sherlock Holmes’ Mind

London in the 19th century must have been a cesspool of sin, where murderers and manslayers and other dark criminals must have met. At least that’s what the crime literature of the time tries telling us.

But luckily, the city of London accommodates the impersonation of the bad boys’ nightmare, and this is well known to us. Sherlock Holmes with his sharp logic and his somewhat simple-minded sidekick Watson – a doctor, no less – put a stop to the scoundrels in many stories.

No wonder that more than 130 years after the first appearance of this duo, penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the stories are still fascinating audiences worldwide and produce new interpretations. The comic album In Sherlock Holmes’ Mind (original title: Dans la tête de Sherlock Holmes) introduces the reader to the character in a different way. We can literally see the thought processes of Holmes in his head and how he analyzes and solves the Case of the scandalous ticket on the basis of the evidence.

Album cover of Dans la tête de Sherlock Holmes
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The master of the carpets

The Orient and Dark Russia come together in this delightful comic album about the aging carpet dealer Fedor, who travels through the vastness of a country that modern times have not stopped at. The modern age has moved into homes in the form of parquet and wooden floors – a development that is slowly making carpets that protect against the cold of stone or clay floors obsolete.

But Fedor is even more worried: he feels his age and is worried that he has no successor for his profession. Then young Danil runs in front of his sleigh while fleeing from the henchmen of the boyar Nazar Alymoff. Because he has killed the ruler’s favorite greyhound, the death penalty is awaiting him. Fedor reacts instinctively, prepares a flying carpet and escapes with Danil – leaving his other carpets behind.

Album cover for Le maître des tapis
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The incredible adventures of the swindler Pablo of Segovia

One would hardly like to believe it, but it was to take 150 years until religious texts or pamphlets were finally replaced by secular printed matter in the size of the edition. Since the invention of letterpress printing by Johannes Gutenberg, the Bible and Martin Luther’s pamphlets have been among the best sellers. Luther was so popular that at that time a third of all printed matter was written by him.

At the beginning of the 17th century, a new type of writing began to establish itself, namely the novel. The first fictional bestseller in printed book history was Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. The sad hero of the story, with his struggle against the windmills and his faithful servant Sancho Panza, is still well known to us four centuries later.

El Buscón

Cervantes novel inspired a number of authors and in 1626 the History of the life of the Swindler, called Don Pablos, model for hobos and mirror of misers (original title: Historia de la vida del Buscón, llamado Don Pablos, ejemplo de vagamundos y espejo de tacaños) was published in Spainby Francisco de Quevedo.

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Mafalda in Buenos Aires

In my youth, I came a few times across a comic strip with a little heroine called Mafalda. At that time I didn’t really know the meaning of this precocious girl, she had been nothing more to me than the heroine of a comic strip like Charlie Brown from Peanuts. Later I learned from an Argentinean friend how well-known and popular Mafalda was there. But only a vacation in Buenos Aires and an analysis of Mafalda in the form of a political and socio-historical investigation brought me closer to the comic strip and its significance for Latin America.

If one strolls through the streets of Buenos Aires, one cannot overlook the amount of Mafalda drawings in the city. On a small square between the streets of Defensa and Chile there is a queue of people at any time of the day, patiently waiting to take a picture with Mafalda and her friends.

A line in front of the Mafalda statue in Buenos Aires

The statue is located opposite the house where the cartoonist and inventor of Mafalda and her friends Joaquín Salvador Lavado Tejón, better known by his stage name Quino, lived. Since the statue was erected, this area of the San Telma district has become a tourist spot. Every weekend an artists’ market is held along Defensa.

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