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Broadening Horizons

March 21, 2017


The Original French Version HERE - The English version has been translated by Jon-Michael McLean




The review Hors-Cadre[s]: Observatory of the Picture Book and Graphic Literature, is 10 years old. Founded in 2007 by Sophie Van Der Linden with the help of l’Atelier du Poisson soluble and Quiquandquoi editions, and translated since 2012 by Pantalia in Spain under the title Fuera [de] Margen, the review endeavours to decipher contemporary production of literature for youth and comic books for grown-ups through the lense of thematics, picking up on underlying trends of these creations.


The review was born ten years ago from a context. That of the emergence of the expression "graphic literature" when the age-old terms "comic book" or "children's book" seemed insufficient to describe the evolutions occurring in these two domains. That of the flourishing of the graphic novel, of its formal likeness to the children's picture book, which itself was losing little by little the specific character of those it addressed, while some authors – Art Speigelman, Dave McKean, Benoît Jacques – passed with ease from one domain to another, creating these "uncertain borders"* between readerships, genres and mediums.


If, today, the notion itself of frames or borders has been progressively disappearing from debates, and if this rigid conception of the field is fading before the appreciation of interactions that are constantly fluid, dynamic and creative, it must yet be noted that certain rifts have been maintained, even reinforced. Henceforth no longer anybody affirms that the picture book will be able to free itself from its readership of predilection and to turn itself without complexes, or with success, towards an adult audience, whereas the field of the graphic novel is only very exceptionally addressed to youth. So much so that the ambition of a vast united ensemble of "graphic literature" struggles in the end to establish itself. 


Yet, these evolutions indeed occurred, even sped up over the course of this mad decade, touching all domains, to the point that, for commentators, the terms of diversity or hybridization have become central markers. Mutations, fusions, interactions, this impossible field of graphic literature seems indeed to have performed like an ecosystem in full expansion, whose inventiveness presents itself as a key to the protection of the species.


We congratulate ourselves for having been able to offer the time and space for reflection in the face of these artistic stakes, and we know the extent of appreciation for the issues that treated directly these evolutions. Also, why not admit it, we take a certain pride in having seen our competition award young creators who have from this point forward set themselves in the landscape** and, for some of them, today lead promising collective adventures***.


At the dawn, we hope, of a new decade, it is impossible not to wonder about the possible evolution of this vertiginous acceleration of exchanges. How far will these crossings go, these openings of singular paths ? That’s why we have, in this anniversary issue, wished to bring out some of these « new perspectives » that to us seem able to announce certain curves and contours of the future aesthetic of picture books and comic books. A way of shedding light on the present with the aim of sketching the future.


Globalisation is a key factor, which reduces impermeability between cultural spaces favours stylistic immigrations and allows for an all-encompassing vision of the field where, some years before, it was so difficult to have even a superficial vision of certain national productions. And this globalisation being essentially virtual, geographic spaces or distance are transcended by the coming together of fields of illustration, allowing publishers and illustrators removed from zones of influence to make breakthroughs.


From the point of view of content, while there is still little, the world of graphic literature split between narrative approach and artistic approach, one of the great evolutions of the current period is precisely to refuse the division. Numerous creators and graphic designers seem to have grasped the issue of narration, but maybe also of linearity, even chronology, and instil a taste for tale-telling in productions where sophisticated visual approach ostensibly dominates. Awareness of the medium and its participation in a book’s expression, even its narration, consequently widens. Out of which come patterns that escape all typological attempt and announce without doubt a radical reconfiguration of the sector.


In this context, new creator profiles are forged. Connected, making free and innovative use of digital tools while carrying out a demanding return to beautiful work, giving advantage to the diversity of artistic fields, even activities, reinventing collective creation spaces such as workshops, reviews or fanzines, they bring universes of authors as singular as they are precociously accomplished. They are the vibrant heart of this issue, which opens, from its cover, onto new talents, to whom we entrust the outset of our publication in a new era.


Sophie Van der Linden


*According to the title of the symposium of Cerisy-La-Salle that was held in June 2004

** The competition of the first book was successively awarded to : Fanny Perret, Charlotte Boudin, Pierre-Henri Malartre, Clémence Ihizçaga, Oriane Lassus, Olivia Lévêque, Lucie Deroin, Fanny Dreyer, Françoise Rogier, Chloé Pararnau, Rémi Farnos, Guillaume Braquemond, Léonor Kieffer, Clémence Fernando, Hélène Bautista, Lucile Birba, Nina Aulagnier, Sarah Duvignau and Camille Stoffel. 

*** Let’s cite Fanny Dreyer and Chloé Pararnau, kingpins of the review Cuistax.




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