The First World War was a devastating conflict, but how did artists at the time use cartoons to tell the story? An international conference held at NUI Galway will explore this question, discussing the impact of cartoons in Ireland and Europe during the war. The conference will take place in the University’s Moore Institute this Saturday, November 10 in association with the 2018 Galway Cartoon Festival.
The conference is coordinated by the discipline of French at NUI Galway, in collaboration with the French Honorary Consul to Galway and Connacht, Catherine Gagneux. The event is also supported by the French Embassy in Ireland, the Embassy of Belgium and Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI ), the agency responsible for the external relations of the French-speaking communities of Belgium.
The conference will highlight the cultural significance of the Franco-Belgian tradition of cartoon drawing, comic book production and graphic novel design. This is an artistic universe, and a major industry, typically referred to as bande dessinée, in which Franco-Belgian writers and artists have consistently been at the cutting-edge of formal and thematic innovation. The conference takes place in conjunction with the centenary of the Armistice that finally brought the devastation of the 1914–1918 conflict to an end. Invited presentations will explore the stylistic evolution and political exploitation of the cartoon and the comic strip over the course of the Great War and in the peace that followed.
Professor Grace Neville of University College Cork, a leading specialist in Franco-Irish relations and the recipient of the French state’s highest award, the Légion d’Honneur, will deliver a keynote presentation. Professor Neville will discuss the influence of press cartoons in Ireland after 1916, together with representations of Ireland abroad. Also speaking will be the prize-winning Belgian graphic novelist, Jean-Claude Servais, who will discuss how his work highlights the role played by women in local resistance to wartime occupation in Belgium. French Honorary Consul Catherine Gagneux will give a presentation on the rise, use and influence of cartoons since WW1, using original drawings that will be exhibited at the conference.
From the discipline of French at NUI Galway, Professor Philip Dine will explore the post-Armistice world order as portrayed in Hergé’s famous Tintin adventures, while his colleague Dr Coralline Dupuy will focus on the politics of gender representation in French-speaking cartoons published during the First World War.
Director of the Moore Institute, Professor Daniel Carey, said: “The remarkable tradition of storytelling through comics – even of tragic events – is one of the great strengths of Franco-Belgian graphic art. This conference provides a unique opportunity to discuss this tradition and its connections in Ireland.”
In a follow-up event, on Thursday 15 November, Sylvie Mossay, discipline of French and Education, NUI Galway, will invite students from second-level schools across Ireland to explore related issues through drawing, in an art workshop led by professional cartoonists and comic book artists.