This month began with an adventure far from my shores in Lucerne, Switzerland. Apart from being a beautiful, historic town set against a back drop of breathtaking alpine scenery, every spring in Lucerne you will find the place blooming with comix. Thanks to the Fumetto International Comix Festival, a wide range of talent from around the world is showcased with a focus on innovative and non mainstream creators. The 9 day festival not only hosts numerous exhibitions but also features talks, discussion panels, workshops, book fairs, and the opportunity to meet creators throughout the week. Each year Fumetto holds a competition, with all entries writing and drawing to a specific theme. This years theme was 'You + Me =Us.'A milestone in my short history of making comix was winning the Scenario Prize for my story 'P.S.' Click on each page for an enlarged version.
So many fantastic artists were exhibited and their books launched, but I will highlight only a few. I enjoyed discovering the work of Chihoi, a creator based in Hong Kong.
À L'Horizon (published by Atrabile) is a collection of short stories that will haunt you pleasantly after you have closed the book. Chihoi takes universal experiences to a philosophical and often spiritual level (although not in a religious sense) in a beautifully understated way. His imagination is vivid, as is his sense of poetry. His books are not yet available in English, but hopefully this will soon change.
Another great discovery at Fumetto was Brecht Evens, hailing from Belgium.
This is the French edition (Les Noceurs) although it will also soon be available in English from Drawn and Quarterly under the title 'The Wrong Place.' This book is a visual feast, a festival of colour, but all carefully considered. Whether Brecht's characters are vacuous or vibrant, his choices in colour help describe his characters but also leave the reader questioning how we read people in social situations. As French operates at a much slower rate in my brain, reading this edition only ensured I lingered longer over each page, allowing me to enjoy it even more. Don't even bother reading any more of this blog until you have clicked here to see more of Brecht's work.
Brecht also specializes in drawing peoples phobias and dislikes, so here are mine illustrated in the inside cover of my book. This is me with a WET bath mat and LARGE caterpillar.
Finally, it would be criminal not to mention Emmanuel Guibert and his book 'The Photographer,' originally published in France some years ago but published only last year in English by First Second.
This is an incredibly moving book. Emmanuel tells the story of his friend Didier Lefèvre, who travelled into a war ravaged Afghanistan in the mid 1980s as a photographer, documenting a mission carried out by Médecins Sans Frontières. Humanitarianism meets human atrocity and while the Doctors seem to be performing heroic achievements on a daily basis in very primitive conditions, it is often the Doctors who are humbled and changed by their experiences. Didier's voice is honest, as are his extraordinary photos that feature throughout the book. My last words are simply, please read this book.
Here is a drawing of Didier Emmanuel drew for me in my sketch book with an ink dropper.