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Can comics talk about the Holocaust?

About documentary comics
Yakovlev: “It seems to me that they can simply be called graphic literature. Especially this term will help those who are shy of the word “comic”. As for the directions, most of these comics are autobiographical – the same “Mouse” and “Persepolis”. An interesting fact: in France, readers of comics, of which there are a huge number – comics are the ninth art form there – did not respond to Persepolis at all. But the reaction of literary readers went, so a new audience appeared. Therefore, the term “graphic literature” is quite good for comics that are not very similar to traditional American comics. “

Kistyakovsky: “I will defend the word“ comic book, ”which for some reason has automatically become associated with superheroes – to put it mildly, this is a very narrow point of view. Do not be shy about the word “comic book”, because a comic book is a form, and anything can exist within this form.

A little bit I want to correct Dima Yakovlev, who called the “Mouse” autobiographical. In fact, “Mouse” is very unusual – it is biographical, because it is not the survivor who writes it. And, on the one hand, it is about the experience of survival, and on the other hand, about the experience of communicating with people who have experienced all this. The experience of double comprehension – the experience of comprehending the tragedy and the experience of comprehending how we respond to the tragedy. The important part is conversations with his father and how Spiegelmann takes this interview, how he talks, builds relationships. In this sense, Mouse is a doubly important book because it teaches you how to communicate with people who have experienced this. And how we who have not experienced anything like this can interact with this. This is a big and open question for us all, unfortunately, because terrible things continue to happen. And all this is appropriate in the comics. I dream that someday I will come to a round table where there will be many nice people and we will not need to start with the excuse “no need to be shy about comics”.

Kovalenko: “Now I realized that“ Louis among the ghosts ”of Fanny Britt we always bashfully called a graphic novel. Now the story of six people who went through the Holocaust is preparing for release (“Vi kommer snart hem igen”, working translation – “When will I return.” – Approx. Ed.). As children, they ended up in concentration camps. This is a documentary comic book, and when we announce it and say that it is a comic book about the Holocaust, people immediately have a huge surprise on their faces. It’s about a combination of incongruous, because for ordinary people, comics are a low genre, and the topic is very serious. ”

About the term “graphic novel”
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Kistyakovsky: “For this I have a specially overheard story from Neil Gaiman – a man who began his career just in comics. At one convention, Neil Gaiman sat and talked about his work, and in the back row a question was raised: “Neil, why do you always say that you make comics? You make graphic novels. ” Gaiman says that at that moment he felt like a prostitute who was told: “You are not a whore, you are a lady for the evening.” This is all the terminological difference. “Graphic novel” is a very convenient term for us not to use the word “comic book”. It’s like instead of “cartoon” to say “animated film”, because it sounds more serious and solid. It’s more convenient for publishers to hide behind this word, although all these are comics, and this is normal. ”

Yakovlev: “This is convenient for librarians and shops. I had a case in the St. Petersburg book house: they said for a long time that they would not sell comics. When I brought the book and called it a graphic novel, the attitude changed, and now there is a huge stand where everything that is published in Russian is sold. If we talk about Art Spiegelman, then he is ready to throw tomatoes at anyone who will call “Mouse” a graphic novel. But it’s convenient for those who are embarrassed by this word. ”

About comics as a way of talking about history
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Timenchik: “Forced Labor in the Third Reich” is based on real stories that were collected in the archive “Memory of the People”. These are the testimonies that the Czech organization Post Bellum, in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and other organizations, recorded in audio format and put them in the public domain – we got a huge archive: stories, documents, photographs. Everything is translated into English. For this comic book, three stories were chosen, which are related to the topic of forced labor, which in one way or another influenced the fate of witnesses. I read an interesting Czech review, in which they wrote that comics on historical topics solve the problem of bringing history closer to the young and young generations. But on the other hand, when it’s the testimony of older people, it helps them to perceive the comic book form as something normal and positive. ”

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