The webcomics blog about webcomics

From Europe, And The Blurring Of Creative Boundaries

One of the great advantages we at Fleen have is the continued willingness of Pierre Lebeaupin — our esteemed Senior French Correspondent — to keep an eye on the French indie/web comics scene (and, more broadly, that of Europe in general) and share his insights with us. And while we at Fleen welcome contributions from anybody who can provide passably-constructed thoughts that don’t take a mountain of editing, the rest of you have a lot of catching up to do before you get to be as good as Lebeaupin is.

We’ll take a gander at his latest look at the relationship between French webcomickers and French Youtubers, but there’s another item to mention first.

  • As noted in the past, dashing chalkboard provacateur Dante Shepherd has unmasked himself as mild-mannered professor of Chemical Engineering Lucas Landherr, although he has kept his nom du webcomics for the STEM-themed Science The World series.

    The latest in the series (the tenth, in fact) covers the topic of gene therapy, and is unique in that it’s the first where he’s taken a back seat in creative terms. Previously he’s written scripts and gotten various artists to illustrate; this time, he’s editing the script of one of his students (Zoe Simonson), which was illustrated by another (Monica Keszler).

    The reason I wanted to mention this strip (aside from the fact it released on Chemical Engineering Day … nice try Shepherd, tell me what part of a two-story fractional distillation column gene therapy relates to) is that Keszler (who illustrated a previous comic on refrigeration cycles), is well fascinating. She’s doing a co-op in Germany right now (there’s your European connection), and in addition to studying Chemical Engineering¹, she’s an accomplished digital artist taking a minor in animation. That’s impressive as hell, and I thought you should know.

Okay, take it away, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin:

  • After covering the happenings of French webcartooning for a while, I began to notice a pattern: Youtubers were often involved together with webcartoonists, and in a way that I don’t see with English [language] creators, at least not as much.

    You may have seen it a bit through some of my previous contributions, first when Maliki started her ongoing crowdfunding site and in the process of doing so, explicitly credited Youtubers for trailblazing in the popular consciousness the notion that you can make a living from your passion projects; and second when an equal number of Youtubers and webcartoonists were involved in Editions Delcourt’s new collection, Octopus.

    But this is only the tip of the iceberg: for instance, following a number of them on Twitter I often see them in conversation with one another; and thinking about it, I can recall a number of other interactions that really tell a connection between webcartoonists and a subset of Youtubers.

    The most significant one is between Cyprien Iov (usually just Cyprien) and Paka. With 10 million people subscribing to his humor videos, Cyprien is one of the most popular independent video creators in the French web; and Paka has been writing and drawing his webcomic for more than 11 years and 2000 strips², so he has been around. So it was no small event when they released a comic book together a few years back, Roger Et Ses Humains, with Cyprien writing and Paka drawing.

    But this phenomenon is not limited to humor. For instance, Patrick Baud’s channel presents weird, unlikely, but true stories of scientific research, encounters, exploration, etc. And when he published a book of such anecdotes, who did he call to illustrate them? That’s right, webcartoonists such as Marion “Professeur Moustache” Montaigne, Boulet, and a few others. Octopus, as we’ve seen, is another instance of these interactions in the same area of scientific vulgarization.

    Some events also involve the two together: for instance, Boulet is a recurring participant to the Nuit Originale shows of Thomas Hercouët; and to a lesser extent, we have Yves Bigerel’s intervention in La Veillée.

    And that is without mentioning creators who do both, such as Les Kassos (which I’m told are blocked in the US, unfortunately³) where Bigerel is a writer, or Lays Farra, who creates both L’Eclaireuse and C’est Pas Sourcé.

    More generally, it appears that a number of webcartoonists and Youtubers are figuring out at the same time how to thrive as independents, whether it be through publishing books or crowdfunding or other means, and are in this together, one way or another. So I expect such collaborations and links to only increase in the future.

Gary again. The trend that FSFCPL has identified specifically in French webcomickers/Youtubers is analogous to a tendency I see generally in modern creative life — namely, that the limits to how one makes a creative life are falling at the same time that the boundaries between creative avenues blur.

The perfect example being the day I left work in Midtown Manhattan and happened to see an enormous billboard in Times Square drawn by a webcomicker, advertising a stage show featuring an internet nerd-music band, a writer/former teen actor, and a goofball that builds things (and frequently blows them up) to celebrate the scientific method.

The only thing they have in common is that they really liked each other’s work, so why not collaborate across every artistic boundary possible? Why not have a circle of people that do Cool Things that incorporates a radio host, a NASA flight director, a webcomicker who happened to write a book that became a blockbuster movie, and an astronaut (who, if not the poet they keep telling us we should send up, is pretty damn close4)? Why, in my youth, did writers only ever seem to socialize with writers, musicians with musicians5, actors with actors? Why shouldn’t Chemical Engineers and comics artists be working together?

No good reason that I can see. Thanks for reminding us, FSFCPL.

Spam of the day:

Bizarre Cure Destroys Toe & Nail Fungus

Well, now that I know it’s bizarre, I guess I’ll keep the fungus!

¹ Which I will grudgingly allow might be as difficult a discipline as my own, beloved Electrical Engineering.

² The only reason I haven’t introduced it by now is that it is 99% corny, untranslatable puns; don’t expect an English version any time soon …

³ Editor’s note: I was able to click through a sampling of the videos in this channel; I can’t say that they’re all available, or will remain so, but they don’t appear to be uniformly blocked at this moment.

4 Also: possessor of the most magnificent moustache of modern times. Respect.

5 To be fair, musicians also associated a lot with supermodels, although the latter now seem to be more likely to be found around athletes.

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