For his entire childhood Yvan Alagbé wanted to be a pilot, but by the time university rolled around, an eye problem put that future in doubt and he didn't want to do it anymore anyway – he wanted to be comic artist and eventually he became quite a prolific one. Someone who is highly influential in Paris's avant garde bande desinée scene.
It started when, while studying physics and mathematics at the Université de Paris-Sud, where he met Olivier Marboeuf. Alagbé and Marboeuf founded a contemporary visual arts review called L’oeil Carnivore and the magazine Le Chéval Sans Tête (“The Headless Horse”), which gained a cult following for its publication of innovative graphic art and comics.
Labelling these artistic collaborations as “Dissidence Art Work,” Alagbé and Marboeuf soon founded their own publishing house, Amok, drawing from the material serialized in Le Chéval, including the first version of Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures. In 2001, Amok partnered with the publishing group Fréon to establish the Franco-Belgian collaboration Frémok, now a major European graphic novels publisher.
This episode was recorded during the Toronto Comics Arts Festival where Yvan debuted the first english language edition of Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures. He talks about the genesis of his collaboration with Marboeuf and their first book Ville Prostituée and how the merger with Frémok was kind of a joke. We also talk about what makes the French comic scene distinct from the American comic scene and how superhero comics were packaged in France back in the day.
Plus, how he was influenced by Frank Miller, the bizarre real life story behind Yellow Negroes, a story that confronts the reader with racial dynamics and the migrant experience in modern France, and how he dealt with Negroes as a charged word while on tour in the U.S. even though he says it's not really a book about racism. This episode is sponsored by Hairy Tarantula
Yvan's Lambiek entry
– Yvan's publisher in North America
@nyrcomics - Instagram
A review of Yellow Negroes from HyperAllergic.com
A profile of Yvan in the New York Times
A review of Yellow Negroes from The Globe and Mail
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