The Reception and Creation of Post-1960 Franco-Belgian BD

McQuillan, Elizabeth Carmel (2001) The Reception and Creation of Post-1960 Franco-Belgian BD. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the reception and creation of post-1960 Franco- Belgian bande dessinee, through an examination of the key BD journals of the period, namely, Pilote (1959-1989), L'Echo des savanes (1972-present) and (A Suivre) (1978-1997). The BDs considered as representative of these magazines are not only contextualised socio-historically as cultural artefacts of the period, but are also analysed as texts. This thesis also considers the historical processes of the institutionalisation and intellectualisation of the BD in France and Belgium in a bid to understand the current cultural status and popularity of Franco-Belgian BD. In terms of reception, I focus mainly on the critical reception of BD. In terms of creation I focus particularly on the work of three authors, Claire Bretecher, Christian Binet and Benoit Peeters, concentrating on a personal aesthetic appreciation rather than a general public appreciation of their work. After a structural introduction to the thesis, I discuss certain significant aspects of pre-1960 BD history. In particular, I highlight the political suspicion in which children's illustres were held in the immediate post-war period. I then suggest specific cultural and historical reasons, which explain BD's transition from frowned-upon illustrated children's material in the 1950s to its welcomed reception as a medium capable of meaningful adult commentary in the 1970s. This introductory chapter concludes with a summary of the key events marking BD's cultural institutionalisation in France and Belgium. This summary particularly emphasises the State intervention of the 1980s, which definitively recognised post-1960 BD as a national asset. In chapter one, I discuss the field of BD criticism, and investigate, in three sub-sections, the contents and context of the main critical trends such as they developed in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s-1990s. I argue that the decisive process of BD's intellectualisation was inaugurated with the establishment of the CBD {Club des Amis de la bande dessinee) in 1962. From the fan discourse of Giff-Wiff of the 1960s, via the semiotic approach of the young university researchers of the 1970s, to the attempts at medium-specific theorisation of the new critics emerging from Les cahiers de la bande dessinee in the late 1980s and 1990s, I identify the underlying cultural and historical reasons for the emergence of particular critical trends throughout the decades and evaluate the repercussions of each decade's critical discourse on the BD's perception of itself In chapter two, I argue that it was not until the late 1960s and the phenomenal success of the Asterix series, and shortly afterwards the emergence of a new generation of artists at Rene Goscinny's Pilote magazine, that BD became a truly self-aware art form in France. From 1968 onwards, as a direct result of the social changes inaugurated by the May events, Pilote headed in an increasingly satirical direction and thus opened itself to a more adult audience. The increasingly adult nature of the magazine led inexorably to the establishment of new independent satirical magazines such as the Echo des Savanes. This chapter outlines the nature of Asterix's, Pilote's and L 'Echo des Savanes'' satire and discusses BD's progression into adulthood from Pilote to the Echo in the late sixties and early seventies. In chapter three, the work of one of the founders of the Echo des Savanes, Claire Bretecher is compared and contrasted with the work of Christian Binet, another adult humorist, in order to investigate the possible cultural specificity of their output. This section discusses the tension between innovation and imitation in this genre, the subversion of the iconic traditions of the ecole franco-belge, and the borrowings from a much wider European comic heritage. Finally, in chapter four, I examine the emergence of (A Suivre) magazine by the previously Belgian owned Casterman in 1978. This chapter bridges a gap between a previously French orientated discussion and a new discussion on francophone Belgian BD history and its relation to France. This final chapter investigates 1980s Franco-Belgian BD claims to adulthood with the collaborative works of Benoit Peeters, BD scenario writer and theoretician, considered as an example of the new found self-consciousness of 1980s BD. This thesis considers through theoretical analysis of certain BD and through the socio-historical contextualisation of BD's rise in status in France and Belgium, BD to be a unique language of the Twentieth Century, and distinct in its Franco-Belgian expression.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Laurence Grove
Keywords: French literature
Date of Award: 2001
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2001-75683
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 18:57
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 18:57
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/75683

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