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Comics & Illustration

Graphic novels, mangas, comics – dive deep into the world of illustrated storytelling.


Frankfurt Cosplay

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Frankfurt Cosplay did not take place on the exhibition grounds in 2020. However, Frankfurter Buchmesse launched a new project together with Animexx e.V., CosDay e.V., and wie.mai.kai e.V., so that Frankfurt Cosplay was livestreamed on Twitch as an online event from 17-18 October 2020.

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Reading tips

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Der Wolf

Duel in the mountains

Jean-Marc Rochette: The Wolf
Knesebeck, 102 pages, 22.00 €

Jean-Marc Rochette: The Wolf
Knesebeck, 102 pages, 22.00 €

Him or me? Human or animal? In a lonely alpine valley, the shepherd Gaspard shoots a wolf, but leaves its puppy alive. Even Gaspard has to be a predator in order to survive in the wild mountains. When the young wolf grows big and strong, it ends up taking everything the shepherd has. Gaspard seeks revenge and finds his life in peril. Jean-Marie Rochette's gripping graphic novel “Le Loup” (The Wolf) tells of man's eternal struggle with nature. The French comic author and illustrator captivates the reader with his powerful strokes, a clever, concentrated story, and the realisation that nature is the foundation of all our lives. (ds)

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Irmina

Irmina – a woman’s life in the Third Reich

Barbara Yelin: Irmina
Reprodukt, 288 pages, 14.90 €

Barbara Yelin: Irmina
Reprodukt, 288 pages, 14.90 €

Graphic novels give great stories a platform. Barbara Yelin proves this with her book "Irmina", which she calls a "comic novel". It tells the story of her grandmother Irmina, who goes to London in the 1930s to protect her dark-skinned boyfriend from racist hostility, but money troubles drive her back to Germany. She marries a Nazi man and becomes a follower herself, increasingly turning a blind eye to the crimes of the Nazis. "Irmina" is a stirring, grandiose masterpiece that deals with everyday life and opportunism during the Third Reich. (ds)

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Am liebsten mag ich Monster

The monster in me

Emil Ferris: My Favorite Thing Is Monsters
Translated into German by Torsten Hempelt. Panini, 420 pages, 39.00 €, ages 14 and up

Emil Ferris: My Favorite Thing Is Monsters
Translated into German by Torsten Hempelt. Panini, 420 pages, 39.00 €, ages 14 and up

Little Karen draws monsters and vampires in her spiral-bound diary, and records her life as a werewolf girl in the slums of Chicago in the 1960s. When her Jewish neighbour is found shot to death, the ten-year-old investigates the case, which abruptly exposes her to the horrors of the Holocaust. With her grandiose debut – recently awarded the Max and Moritz Prize for "Best International Comic" – Emil Ferris has created a Gesamtkunstwerk that effortlessly combines family drama, contemporary history, mystery, coming of age, art and comics, and takes the graphic novel into entirely new artistic and literary spheres. (ana)

Focus on: Children’s comics

Fun to read and a lot of adventure

Short dialogues, concise texts, and pictures that make the content easy to understand: Comics make reading fun – especially for beginners. But more experienced children also appreciate picture-driven stories.

A recent series from publisher Reprodukt is "Hundebande" (Dog Clique). Part of that series, the adventure "Die Hundebande in Paris" (The Dog Clique in Paris), takes the four-legged friends to the Seine metropolis, where the pack gets lost again and again, and passes by many sights. It works as an entertaining, funny comic, but also as a travel guide of Paris for children.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration The Dog Clique in Paris

Dorothée de Monfreids: The Dog Clique in Paris
Reprodukt, 40 pages, 16.00 €, ages 3 and up

The letters of a boy to his sister, who frequently annoys him, begin with "Dear Sister" or "Dear Roommate". He writes to her about how much he hates having to read the same book to her all the time, or about why she is not allowed to go into his tree house. But he also tells her how much he is bothered by his best friend moving away. The news is often full of anger and frustration, but later also affection. In “Liebe Schwester. Briefe an meine kleine Nervensäge” (Dear Sister. Letters to My Little Nag), Alison McGhee creates a wonderful picture of sibling love – warm, funny, and extremely entertaining.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Dear Sister. Letters to My Little Nag.

Alison McGhee, Joe Bluhm: Dear Sister. Letters to My Little Nag
Knesebeck, 192 pages, 14.00 €, ages 8 and up

In "Manno! Alles genau so in echt passiert" (Man! It Really Happened Like That) Anke Kuhl relates funny, touching episodes from her childhood – from playing cards with grandpa and quarrels with her sister to her crush on TV stars. Both young and adult readers will be able to recognise themselves in many things. And by the end of the comic, you just want more of it ...

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Man! It Really Happened Like That

Anke Kuhl: Man! It Really Happened Like That
Klett Kinderbuch, 136 pages, 16.00 €, ages 7 and up

Everyday family chaos continues in Lilli L'Arronge’s "Familienbande” (Family Ties). The illustrator-author tells of the toils of getting children out of bed, or into the fresh air. The concise chapters are extremely funny and describe the children's emotional ups and downs (in this case two sisters), as well as the sometimes futile attempts of the parents to keep everything under control.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Family Ties

Lilli L’Arronge: Family Ties
Jacoby & Stuart, 72 pages, 15.00 €, ages 4 and up

"Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" is a cool comic for older kids, and a new episode on this Marvel superhero. It looks back to the early years of the comic character, when not only evil, but also heartbreak gave Spider-Man a hard time, not to mention the stress at home and school.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane: The Real Thing

Sean McKeever, Takeshi Miyazawa (Ill.): Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane: The Real Thing
Panini, 269 pages, 19.00 €, ages 14 and up

Speaking of superheroes: In October, "Peanuts!" will be the ultimate anthology for all fans of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Peppermint Patty. For the anniversary of this legendary comic series by Charles M. Schulz, the magnificent volume offers the best adventures from seven decades of "Peanuts" on more than 500 pages.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Peanuts

Charles M. Schulz: Peanuts!
Carlsen, 544 pages, 79.00 €, ages 7 and up – to be published in October

Text: Guido Heyn

Book recommendation

Splendour and tragedy

In their dazzling graphic novel, Bernard Swysen and Bruno Bazile bring to life the turbulent biography of the great comic and silent film star Charlie Chaplin.

Everyone knows the image of The Tramp, Charlie Chaplin's melancholic vagabond with the tiny black moustache, the small bowler hat, twirling his walking stick as he characteristically waddles dancingly along. But who really knows the man behind this character with whom he is so closely identified?

How many people know that Chaplin grew up in crushing poverty in England, that his mother, a dancer and singer, had to raise him and his brother Sydney on her own and was repeatedly committed to the psychiatric ward with delusions and depression? Who knows that Chaplin, who created the gentle Tramp, was such a perfectionist that he was often a complete tyrant as a producer and director? Or that his weakness for attractive young women caused him no end of trouble?

Themenwelten: Chaplin

Bernard Swysen Bruno Bazile (Ill.): Chaplin – Ein Leben für den Film
Translated into German by Julika Herzog.
(English: The Stars of History: Charlie Chaplin)
Panini, 88 pages, 20.00 €

Even his Swiss exile and his falling-out with the USA, which had accused him of communist and anti-American activities, are not well known to many. Author Bernard Swysen and comic illustrator Bruno Bazile have managed to artistically combine not only Chaplin's incredible professional successes, but also his tragedy and scandal-ridden life in a dazzling graphic novel. With sensitivity and deep research, they illuminate all the corners of his life on some 90 large-format pages, portraying the great silent film star and talent of the century, Charlie Chaplin, in all his splendour and complexity. For everyone who wants to learn more, the appendix includes a comprehensive filmography and numerous photos of Chaplin and his alter-ego, the Tramp.

Text: Frauke Schneider

Portrait of: Alcante, Laurent-Frédéric Bollée and Didier Rodier

The tragedy of Hiroshima

The 470-page graphic novel “The Bomb” tells the story of the atomic bomb that was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima 75 years ago. Alcante, Laurent-Frédéric Bollée and Denis Rodier devoted five years to completing their masterpiece.

“The famous Aioi bridge? The best target I have seen in the whole war…!” It is 8.15 a.m. local time as the pilot of the US bomber reaches his target and behind him, Major Thomas Ferebee releases the bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” over the Japanese city of Hiroshima with its 350,000 residents. Below them, a woman and her two children are crossing the street. They wave to a man sitting on the stops in front of a building. Then comes the explosion, destroying everything, wiping out everything, an infernal conflagration that incinerates and melts everything.

The story of how the first atomic bomb came to be dropped is well known – and is now told for the first time as a graphic novel. Belgian comic author Alcante, his French co-author Laurent-Frédéric Bollée and Canadian comic illustrator Denis Rodier dedicated five years of work to their epic project “The Bomb”. The authors put thousands of hours into researching books, articles and documentation – material to make up the content of the scenes portrayed in their book. Alcante describes their teamwork in the extensive postscript: “We worked until the early hours, discussing narrative solutions, rewriting scenes over and over again, checking facts, starting over, there were the storyboards, the initial sketches, the just went on and on!”  The three men set standards for achieving the highest degree of detail in dates, people, buildings, vehicles and uniforms.

Alcante, Laurent-Frédéric Bollée, Didier Rodier (Ill.): Die Bombe – 75 Jahre Hiroshima

Alcante, Laurent-Frédéric Bollée, Didier Rodier (Ill.): Die Bombe – 75 Jahre Hiroshima. Die Entwicklung der Atombombe.
Translated into German by Ulrich Pröfrock.
(English: The Bomb – 75 years after Hiroshima. The development of the atomic bomb)
Carlsen, 472 pages, 42.00 €

The catastrophe of the bomb being dropped does not occur until page 400; after all, the book should tell the whole story of this terrible weapon: what led to it, which persons are inseparably connected to it.

“The Bomb” starts in deep black, with the creation of the Earth over four billion years ago and the sentence “In the beginning there was nothing”. And then it is uranium itself that speaks : “On this Earth I was at first just one molten mineral among many, perhaps countless others. But I had some vague sense that I was destined for something great.” Then the story fast-forwards into the 20th century and here uranium intervenes in the story again and again as an uncanny narrative voice.

This outstanding graphic novel covers scientists, emigrants and politicians. From warmongers and people who tried to prevent the bomb from being dropped. Readers are immersed in various worlds and locations, catch behind-the scenes glimpses of the halls of power. The complex but gripping story is carried by Denis Rodier's succinct, hard-edged drawings that lend the work a phenomenal impact.

Text: Daniel Seitz

Talk with: Anna Haifisch

“The German scene is terribly conservative”

Anna Haifisch is known for her drawings in MoMA and “Vice” Magazine. This year, the Leipzig resident was awarded a prize from the Erlangen International Comic Salon for best German-language comic book artist. In our interview, she talks about her career and the German comics scene.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Anna Haifisch

© Matthew James-Wilson

How did you become a comic book artist?
Anna Haifisch: Through print graphics. I did a lot of serial work, usually three or four pages. But at some point, it wasn’t enough to tell a story. Besides, I always loved comics. When I was 14, I was terribly taken with “Approximate Continuum Comics” by Lewis Trondheim and “Rhesus Incompatibility” by Jean-Christophe Menu. They were certainly a big influence on me.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration Schappi

Anna Haifisch: Schappi
Rotopol, 92 pages, 20.00 €

You were a founding member of “The Millionaires Club”, an independent festival for comics and graphics. What encouraged you to help organise the festival?
In 2012, we went to the “Grand-Salon Micro Édition” in Lyon, France. It was a fantastically chaotic mini festival, and we wanted to emulate it. We were just stumbling out of art school and were all quite penniless. Out of sheer desperation, I bought Donald Trump's book “How to Get Rich”. Of course, the book itself was not at all helpful, but it was lying on the table when we all met to consider what to do next. So I am afraid to admit that we have Donald Trump to thank for the name “The Millionaires Club”.
From the very outset, we saw ourselves as an international festival, because we had the sense that all the craziest things were going down elsewhere. The German scene was terribly conservative back then, as it remains today. I think that we always wanted to be more courageous, and that is why we invited artists who were completely unknown in Germany.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Comic & Illustration The Artist

Anna Haifisch: The Artist – Der Schnabelprinz (English: The Artist – the Circle of Life)
Reprodukt, 112 pages, 18.00 €

Thanks to the “COZI Comic & Zinefest”, Frankfurt now has its own independent festival. Has the scene changed since 2012?
I love COZI! Fortunately, there are still people who enjoy organising DIY festivals. The “Hungry Eyes Zinefest” in Berlin and the “Comicfestival Hamburg” are the best things going for independent comics in Germany. There is a lot going on in art schools and I am happy to see that there are so many new collectives and micro-publishers.

This year you received an award as the best German-language comic book artist. Quite the rising star when you consider that “The Artist” is barely five years old. What can we look forward to in the future?
To tell you the truth, I really cannot say what is going to happen with me. I will just keep drawing. In spring of 2021, part three of “The Artist” is coming out with the title “Eine Vogeloper in 11 Akten” (An Avian Opera in 11 Acts). It is an absurd project. I have no idea if it will make any sense to anybody. But that's what I think about every book I come out with.

Interview: Heiko Schmelz