Mark McKinney has been doing a fantastic job in re-analysing French-speaking comics under the critical affordances brough by post-colonialist studies. He is indeed a leading scholar, having published the groundbreaking The Colonial Heritage of French Comics (Liverpool University Press, 2011) and Redrawing French Empire in Comics (Ohio State University Press, 2013), as well as edited the excellent History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels (University Press of Mississippi, 2008).
Much of his work is both a great introduction to this analytical framework as well as a profund lesson in close reading. He has created a varied and pointed genealogy of colonial themes and treatments within the medium of comics, usually dismissed to the preference of other media. However, it is precisely because of the seemingly innocent, “natural” and immediate nature of comics that colonialism principles and worldviews were transmitted to children, contributing to a “natural framework” of looking back at the colonies and their “subjects.” By creating a “visual-textual pedagogy of Empire,” comics were part and parcel of that discourse. In a time when the multiplicity of political voices and agencies act in the public sphere, and attempt revisitations of older texts (and the controversies surrounding Hergé’s Tintin au Congo precisely in 2012 were a case in point), defended as “appropriate of their time” or “just fun”, etc., critical stances such as Prof. McKinney’s are fundamental. Continue reading “Mark McKinney: the “The Colonial Heritage of French Comics” interview”