Francois Schuiten's Bruxelles cover detail

Pipeline and Sundry: Spirou, Schuiten, Belgian Tax Evasion, and Canadian Book Burners

That headline could be much longer, but I only get so many characters.

Sit back and strap in. There’s some crazy stuff in here, including Mickey Mouse, felon publishers, Brussels, theme parks, and more!

Party at Parc Spirou

Dupuis threw a party/comics festival at Parc Spirou over the weekend. Everyone from Spirou Journal was invited, by the looks of it. The Dupuis Instagram account had a lot of reels and pictures from the event.

Here’s the schedule, broken up into three parts:

Parc Spirou festival schedule, part 1

Parc Spirou festival schedule, part 2

Parc Spirou festival schedule, part 3

It’s a Who’s Who of creators from the magazine.

It’s a killer lineup: Jose Luis (“The Campbells“) Munuera, Batem (“Marsupilami“), Véro (“About Betty’s Boob“) Cazot, Justine (“Through Lya’s Eyes“) Cunha, Kenny (“Telemachus“) Ruiz, Arthur (“Zombillenium“) de Pins, Bèka (“Dance Class”), Pascal (“Mister Invincible“) Jousselin, Brice (“Frnk“) Cossu, and many more.

They were at the Parc doing signings and drawing demonstrations for the kids and the whole thing just looks awesome. (As did the videos of the creators on the rides.)

I wasn’t terribly excited by the park when it first opened, but this is a weekend that I’d be very excited about (if I lived in the South of France).

Schuiten Can’t Retire, Keeps Drawing

Francois Schuiten retired from comics. But he’s still drawing!

“Brussels: A Dream Capital” (my translation) is a book composed of a number of pieces Schuiten has drawn over the years of the city of Brussels. It’ll be accompanied by some new text to pull it all together.

I’m not sure if this is based on the actual Belgian city of Brussels or the more fantastic version in the “Brussels” book in the Cities of the Fantastic series.

Nor do I care. I want the book, either way.

Come to think of it, I should go back and re-read “Brusel”. It’s been a while. NBM did a great hardcover edition of it twenty years ago.

Schuiten is also still drawing things for high end prints that I’ll never be able to afford. The best I can hope for is an eventual art book to collect all this stuff.

Here’s one that just popped up over the weekend. It’s Notre Dame under repair:

It’s beautiful and I’d love to hang it on my wall here at Pipeline World HQ. I’m not holding my breath.

Financial Problems with Jacques Glénat

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: There’s no money in comics.

This story might be the ultimate correction to that statement.

Éditions Glénat founder, Jacques Glénat, was given an 18 months suspended jail sentence, plus fines and fees in excess of 650,000 Euros. Why? He hid nearly ten million Euros off shore and avoided paying taxes on it starting in 1997.

So, yes, there’s at least one person in comics who was making money in the last 20 years.

The French tax authorities were tipped off to this issue from The Panama Papers, of all things.

I’m beginning to think that comic creators in France have a point when they complain that they’re underpaid. Those offshore accounts certainly didn’t help raise their page rights…

Canadians are Dirty Rotten Book Burners, er, “Flame Purifiers

One of the reasons European comics are slow to catch on in North America is just the difference in cultures. Whether it’s pop culture references or societal cues that are so wildly different from ours (sex vs violence, for example), there will always be that awkward disconnect.

The other thing that hurts a lot of these otherwise wonderful books is that the older ones are often filled with stereotypes and caricatures that modern audiences would find distasteful. It’s something I’ve mentioned before in reviews of Spirou and Asterix, and not mentioned about other books because I didn’t even review them because of it.

I’m not going to get into the debate here about how awful these things are or aren’t, or if it’s just another cultural difference and not racism, or if the fact that Asterix makes fun of everybody absolves it from making fun of a few people, in particular.

None of that debate matters. The horses have left the barn. Poor Papercutz has to take the brunt of it over Asterix. But lots of books will likely never get a chance in North America for those reasons.

Canada, however, recently took this to new heights. A collection of schools in Ontario created a list of 150 or so books that should no longer be in their libraries. This is fine. Evolving standards always involve books being rotated out of the libraries and the curricula of different educational institutes. There’s only so much room in the library, after all.

But — they didn’t go all Dr. Seuss on them and quietly pull the books from the libraries.

Nope, the school board burned Asterix and Tintin and many other books they found distasteful. Yessir, a good ol’ fashioned book burning in the name of cultural sensitivity!

But, wait, there’s a reason for the book burning! In fact, they referred to it as a “flame purification ceremony.” That’s not a joke, I promise you.

We will bury the ashes of racism, discrimination and stereotypes in the hope that we will grow up in an inclusive country where everyone can live in prosperity and security.

Nothing screams “inclusion” more than a good book burning!

Additional performative acts of purification were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Plans to burn ALL the books and not just selected examples for the sake of this symbolism were also cut short when someone realized that burning too many books might be an extremely dumb idea that could upset people who thought book burning was, you know, the kind of thing we thought better of after the Nazis and all…

If we learned nothing from Hitler, it’s that one should only burn a few books at a time.

I love ActuaBD’s account of this story, particularly the venom with which it is written.

Radio Canada’s story is more nuanced, and has a lot more of the facts. There are moments in it, though, where you can read the disbelief on the writer’s part.

Ultimately, any book that included a native person in Canada but wasn’t written by a native person from Canada was deemed wrong and deserved to be pulled. And even that wasn’t enough in all cases.

An interesting thing to note from the ActuaBD story is that it isn’t “Asterix and the Great Crossing” that is banned in this case, but the book adaptation of the movie, “Asterix and the Indians” that is based on the movie that is based on the book.

Glenn Keane hair model sheet for Pocahontas

Also banned — though no word on if it was amongst the selected few to be burned — was a book based on the Disney movie, “Pocahantos,” because the title character is too sexy. Damn you, Glenn Keane, for making her hair so unnaturally bouncy!

The examples go on, with some examples that seem obvious and unsurprising, and others that seem a little far-reaching and overreacting.

I’m not familiar enough with Canadian politics, let alone the local politics of a section of Ontario, to start a war with Canada here. Honestly, a lot of this looks like one person on a crusade that went too far and whose methods and logic are perhaps a bit too ideological for her own good. I can imagine a school board on top of that who was afraid to say “no” to her for fear of appearing insensitive.

She is, after all, the self-proclaimed “knowledge guardian”. Her crusade seems also to be isolated for now. Nobody wants to jump into this particular fire with her. (Pun intended.)

Am I perhaps being too kind in attributing this to one overzealous person and not a sign of things to come? Perhaps. We’ll see.

But if you’ve seen the other headlines regarding this story in the last week, just keep this in mind: This is not the national Canadian government doing this (though the “knowledge guardian” has ties to the political party of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau); it’s an isolated collection of schools in Ontario. And there was a very tiny measure of self-awareness with the book burnings that kept it more limited than you may have thought.

But still…

Let’s round things out by looking at a few books coming our way that shouldn’t be burned, eh?

Bonus: Fantagraphics’ European Future

Fantagraphics recently released is catalogue for the winter publishing season.

There’s a new Tardi book titled “The True Story of the Unknown Soldier,” which they describe as “two experimental, early works.” They’re set around World War I.

More relevant to our interests on this site, “Olympia” is getting a release. This is the sequel to “The Grande Odalisque“, by Bastien Vives, Florent Ruppert, and Jerome Mulot. They are also offering a boxed set with both books in a slipcase. It’s $25 for the one book, an $60 for the two in the slipcase.

Finally, Regis Loisel has “Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee,” an 80 page book at full 8″ x 12″ size that is printed sideways (bound on the short side) but that comes with a slipcase so you can stand it up on your bookshelf vertically. Smart move.

Loisel is an amazing artist, and here he’s doing a serialized, comic strip-style story starring Mickey. It’s set in the 1930s and looks amazing.

Preview of Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee by Regis Loisel

I’m still holding out hope that they’ll eventually get to translating Silvio Camboni’s Mickey Mouse albums from Glénat, though…

From all reports, the publishing house isn’t impacted by its founders’ bad tax strategies.

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One Comment

  1. This book-burning situation is heartbreaking. It would be so ludicrous if it weren’t hopelessly tragic. At times, this world is beginning to feel like Fahrenheit 451 or 1984, two books they probably haven’t read…