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Madagascar, stronghold of comics in Africa

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Screenwriter Franco Clerc (left) and cartoonist Rafally during a signing session at the French Institute of Madagascar, in Antananarivo, on March 26, 2022.

Jean-Luc Schneider is a happy editor. Present at the Angoulême Festival this year with around twenty comic books, its small publishing house based in Réunion, Des Bulles dans l’Océan (DBDO), will release two beautiful works by Malagasy authors in 2023. First a comic book adaptation of Big Brother, by French writer Mahir Guven, 2018 Goncourt prize for first novel, by Eric Andriantsialonina, dit Dwa. Then a life of Arthur Rimbaud that the designer Liva will trace with a ballpoint pen on antemoro paper, typical of Madagascar, scraped with a razor.

Read also Africa, the other continent of comics

“These are two consecrations for us, welcomes Jean-Luc Schneider. Despite the presence of Malagasy authors in major comic strip events, prescribers and booksellers still find it difficult to consider us other than from an exotic and sympathetic angle. » With L’Harmattan Afrique, DBDO is the only publishing house to represent designers from the Big Island. It has no less than sixteen in its catalog. “Rough diamonds, with a particular touch. They have not been saturated with techniques and references like their Western peers, although of course they also have their own models”underlines Jean-Luc Schneider, who opened the Le Maki a bonne mine bookstore in 2018 in Antananarivo.

“There was a golden age in the 1980s”

Because Madagascar is one of the few strongholds of the ninth art in Africa. Graphic novel, heroic fantasy, science fiction… Almost all genres of comics have been represented there since the publication of the first comic strip on paper, in 1961. Entitled Ny Ombalahibemasoshe told, under the pen of the priest writer Antoine de Padoue Rahajarizafy and the designer Jean Ramamonjisoa, the life of King Andrianampoinimerina, who unified the Big Island at the beginning of the XIXand century.

Since then, the authors have continued to draw on the history and daily life of their country. “It is estimated that there was a boom, even a golden age of Malagasy comics in the 1980s, with the opening of the country after the malgachization and the arrival on the market of fumetti italian [de petits fascicules à bas coût]analyzes Christophe Cassiau-Haurie, co-author of Fifty years of comics in French-speaking Africa (The Harmattan). This greatly influenced the authors and allowed them to produce comics far from the classic Franco-Belgian canon, in inexpensive mini-albums for the local market. »

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