Redrawing French Empire in Comics

Mark McKinney

Studies in Comics and Cartoons


Literary Criticism/European/French; Literary Criticism/African; Literary Criticism/Asian/General
288 pp. 6x9

$35.95 paper 978-0-8142-5381-6
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The author recommends the following links:

European Comic Art

La Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l’image

Groupe de recherche Achac (L'Association pour la connaissance de l’histoire de l’Afrique contemporaine)

International Journal of Comic Art

Electricblogbaloup (Clément Baloup)


“Utilising a variety of approaches, including post-colonial theories and (art-)historical methods, McKinney elucidates the importance of comics . . . for preserving both the working and cultural memory of injustice and war in the former French colonies of Algeria and Indochina/Vietnam.” —Contemporary European History

“Mark McKinney has been at the forefront in driving forward research on comic book art and is widely recognized as the foremost authority in the English-speaking world on comic book (bande dessinée, or BD) representations of the French colonial experience and its aftermath. His Redrawing French Empire in Comics is an immensely knowledgeable, highly original and richly informative study of French bande dessinée representations of French colonialism and its violent demise with particular reference to Algeria and Indochina. A key dynamic structuring the book is the interplay between, on the one hand, experiences and attitudes characteristic of the colonial period and, on the other, perspectives and preoccupations shaped by post-colonial circumstances.” —Alec Hargreaves, Emeritus Winthrop-King Professor of Transcultural French Studies, Florida State University

Redrawing French Empire in Comics by Mark McKinney investigates how comics have represented the colonization and liberation of Algeria and Indochina. It focuses on the conquest and colonization of Algeria (from 1830), the French war in Indochina (1946–1954), and the Algerian War (1954–1962). Imperialism and colonialism already featured prominently in nineteenth-century French-language comics and cartoons by Töpffer, Cham, and Petit. As society has evolved, so has the popular representation of those historical forces. French torture of Algerians during the Algerian War, once taboo, now features prominently in comics, especially since 2000, when debate on the subject was reignited in the media and the courts. The increasingly explicit and spectacular treatment in comics of the more violent and lurid aspects of colonial history and ideology is partly due to the post-1968 growth of an adult comics production and market. For example, the appearance of erotic and exotic, feminized images of Indochina in French comics in the 1980s indicated that colonial nostalgia for French Indochina had become fashionable in popular culture. Redrawing French Empire in Comics shows how contemporary cartoonists such as Alagbé, Baloup, Boudjellal, Ferrandez, and Sfar have staked out different, sometimes conflicting, positions on French colonial history.

Mark McKinney is professor of French, Department of French and Italian, Miami University, Ohio.