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Issue 73 - November 2010

Tuesday 30 November 2010 by Ina Doublekova

comiXculture at Komikazen Festival in Ravenna

(JPG) There are different kinds of comics art: commercial and underground, professional or amateur. But there is also Komikazen International Reality Comics Festival, dedicated to the high-quality comics that talk about sensitive issues of contemporary society. The organizers from Associazione Culturale “Mirada” insist that “the need to ’tell it as it is’ is becoming urgent in an era in which it is becoming ever more difficult to understand whether or not what we are being told is reliable and truthful”. With this agenda in mind, for six years now they gather established comics artists who discuss reality in their work. And guess what? The first authors to be presented in 2005 were Marjane Satrapi and Joe Sacco.

The 2010 edition of Komikazen festival took place in various venues in Ravenna, Italy, from 8th to 10th of October. Among the key guests were figures like Maximilien Le Roy, most famous for his comics-works on Nietzsche, Igort who presented his brand new book “Memories from USSR”, Apostolos Doxiadis and the “Logicomix”, as well as the comiXculture’s informal mentor Aleksandar Zograf. What is worth mentioning, though, is that for a first time a project of a NGO was invited at the festival and that, of course, is comiXculture initiative of Next Page Foundation.

More than 40 pages of comics created for comiXculture were exhibited for the audiences at the Youth Center of the Municipality of Ravenna. The works included stories on Sofia and Beirut, drawn by Omar Khouri, David Habchy, Ghadi Ghosn, Vladimir Palibrk, Toma Pan, Helena Klacokar, Matei Branea as well as comics on diversity issues, such as Asta sme’s story about a homesexual Roma, living in Prague, Jakob Klemencic’s “Radio Boy”, following the route of an immigrant from Africa to Italy and Aleksandar Zograf’s “Exotic Neighbors”, describing the life of Chinese new-comers at the flea market in Pancevo, Serbia. To see sample pages of those works, please visit www.comiXculture.org

From creative writing to comics scenarios

Since 2008, Anna Lindh Foundation and The European Institute of the Mediterranean jointly organize the short story contest “Sea of Words”. It targets young writers from 43 countries in the Euro-Mediterranean region and “is aimed at the production of short stories on re-establishing bridges of trust, dialogue and reconciliation in the Mediterranean and in Europe, with the objective of showing the different sensitivities and realities in the Euro-Mediterranean region, from the point of view of the youths who live there.”

(JPG) At the end of October, a selection of 15 winners of the previous year gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria for a creative writing workshop on the topic “Peace and Coexistence: addressing conflicts through creative writing”.

Next Page got invited by the Anna Lindh network to contribute to the workshops’ agenda. Instead of simply lecturing the young writers on Next Page’s great work in intercultural dialogue, we decided to bridge participants’ main interest in writing with our fascination with the media of comics. Comixculture project editor who is also a certified creative-writing trainer, Vassil Vidinsky (alias VBV), gave a lecture on the relationship between text and drawings in the process of comics creation. He pinpointed that there is no pregiven formula in this collaboration, yet having a focus and a clear idea helps. He underlined that it is essential the drawings to add new dimensions to the meanings, suggested by the text, and not to be a simple illustration and repetition of what has been already said.

After the presentation, we received excited feedback from the participants admitting that this talk added new perspective in the way they think about their writing. Ten of the young writers bravely accepted the challenge and transformed their short stories into comics scenarios. Now, five of those scenarios will be offered to our comiXculture artists to become real comics works.