Friday, January 16, 2015

Breaking News

Dedidcation Week.

In 1968, everything changed in France. The new generation took it's frustration with the old complacency to the streets of Paris and protest was everywhere. Conservatives feared there might be a revolution. But unlike America, where there were protests as well, the army and police didn't beat them down as succesfully or the protesters themselves were less extreme, because they were able to ytranslate their anger into a sociatal shift taht brought the new genertion into a position where they were no able and allowed to call the shots. Of course, this was nowhere as clear as in the arts. Older artists were replaced by new, rougher and younger pones. There was not yet a commercial reason to do as, as we are used to now. The kids of those days did not have the buying power they have nowadays, so that in itself was not the biggest influence on the change. it seems society itself was ready for it. Maybe because of the size of the new generation, the baby boomers themselves.

At Pilote this had a huge effect. Revolutionary, multi-talented editor and writer René Goscinny, who had given each and everyone of thee new artist their start in his magazine, was now seen as a representative of the old guard and asked to step down. That he did so, is another sign of his enormous talent. He didn't really step down, he stayed on to oversee what they were doing and helped the new generation find their own voice. New series were started and the mild humor and satire of the mid sixties was replaced by a sharper and more relevant version. This in itself had the effect that the new talent that went into the underground in the US, suddenly was in charge of a large and popular magazine and that has helped them to remain in the public eye until today. The French comics culture still is richer for it, one of the most diverse comic cultures in the world, where a radical style does not immediately mean you have to work for a niche audience. The only thing similar I can think of is what happened at Nickleodeon in the US a couple of decades ago, when the old cartoon traditions were shattered by wild new styles that seemed uncommecially untraditional at first, but turned out to be just as marketable as the set way of doing things.

In Pilote, Goscinny allowed his artists to do several pages of 'political comics' in each issue, a black and white form of satire aimed at whatever was happening in society and the news that same week. Cabu was one of the artists contributing to those pages, which set him on the course that would end with him being one of the driving forces behind Charlie-Hebdo grsaphically. The page I am showing here is a sample that show the emergence of that style. All in all over 500 of such pages must have been produced by talents such as Cabu, Reiser, Wolinski, Alexis, Gotlib and a host of others. None of which was ever reproduced, because it was to much related to it's time.

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