Book History, Episodes

27. Comic Fun with Les Bandes Dessinées

Hello Book Lovers,

Oh yeah, it’s time to get your nerd on with this one because we’re talking comic books. Specifically, comic books from France and Belgium.

That sounds really specific, but these books — known as les bandes dessinées — gained popularity in the 1930s and have only gotten more popular over the decades…even though there was a little kerfuffle during the post-World War II period.

As for me, I was a huge fan of the Smurfs as a kid (I had a slight crush on Johan) and have now reignited my comic nerdom with the Asterix & Obelix books.

But, I ramble on about this in the episode, so I better stop here and let you get to listening.

Enjoy!

Links For You….

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Episode Transcript (or roughly so)…

Hey everyone, this is Tammie Painter and you’re listening to the Book Owl Podcast, the podcast where I entertain your inner book nerd with tales of quirky books and literary lore.

Intro

And holy moly it seems like FOREVER since I’ve been in front of the microphone. I don’t even know what episode number we’re on. 27? Hope so. I also hope I remember how to do all the processing to get this thing out to you. Otherwise this would be a little pointless.

So, April was a weird month for me and I cover why that is in my writing update, and if you want more details there’ll be a link in the show notes (I know you missed me saying that, right?) but suffice it to say that things went a little wacky medically, personally, and with my writing stuff.

And because of all that weirdness I had a lot of trouble getting into a book. I don’t know how many novels I started and just gave up on. Even audiobooks weren’t capturing my attention. And who knows, maybe it wasn’t me. Maybe they were just crappy books.

Either way, what I did find myself gravitating toward were graphic novels. Specifically French graphic novels because my library’s online dohicky added a whole bunch of them to their system. So I thought, what a perfect topic for the podcast after its long spring break.

One Caveat

So just to let you know, this episode is going to specifically be about French comics, or les bandes dessinées, NOT about American comic books, although they do play a part in the story.

Joining the Bandes

Alright, if you’re wondering, the term Bandes Dessinées translates to drawn strips and if you’re cool you shorten it to BD, but that sounds like bidet, so I’m just going to call them BD from now on for the most part.

These are also known as Franco-Belgian comics because they mainly got their start in Belgium where they were known as Stripverhalen, or strip stories, both of which sound like names for a strip club newsletter.

These Belgian comics, if they were written in Flemish, would then be translated into French where they were crazy popular.

Early Strippers

The early versions of these comics, which began in the mid- to late 1800s were a little different from their American cousins because the American comics mainly were used in a political way to mock or criticize the government or people trying to push their weight around. France and Belgium took a more light-hearted approach and kept theirs mostly humorous.

Obviously you’d recognize these comics as comics if you saw them, but they were a little different than what we’re used to today. There was usually only one panel or a very short strip of panels and there were no word bubbles. It was like they hadn’t come up with that idea yet, so the comics would have captions like what people were used to seeing under photos in magazines.

Hubba-Bubba Bubble

So eventually someone flips the calendar page and it’s the 1900s. Comics start appearing in a more episodic nature in magazines or newspapers, meaning that each issue built on the story started in the previous issue. They were pretty popular amongst French readers, but none of these comics really took off outside of France.

And I can’t blame them, one of the more pervasive seres of comics was put out by the Catholic Church’s Union of French Catholic Workers. These comics were geared toward kids and covered that kid-favorite topic of health and correct behavior. Yeah, I know, gripping stuff, right?

But even though things were limping along on the popularity scale, in the 1920s we finally start to see word bubbles in France. Hoorah! Although they had been popping up (see what I did there) in the US, the first French artist to use them was Alain Saint-Ogan.

Unfortunately, the French can be stubborn about changing their ways, and the caption format still continued to dominate comics for at least another couple decades.

The Dark Side of Tintin

Moving along to 1930, we finally have a breakout hit and we also have the first true Belgian Bandes Dessinées. Or do we…? So, as I said, these comics were coming out in episodic form in periodicals.

One of these periodicals was Le Vingtieme Siecle and they eventually put the artist Hergé in charge of a new supplement for kids called Le Petit Vingtieme. And in this supplement Hergé began the story of an adventurous character named Tintin.

Well, Tintin was so popular the newspaper decided to put his first complete story into a hardcover book and claimed it was the first BD published.

Which was a total lie because the publisher Hachette had already published their own BD of the comic Zig et Puce a year or two earlier.

But that wasn’t Tintin’s only controversy. See, Le Vingtieme was a very conservative magazine that just loved to drive home its far-right, fascist views. And some of these views made their way into the Tintin comics, which included a lot of racial slurs and stereotypes. Hergé wasn’t exactly cool with this, but he went along with it anyway, and did later apologize for his portrayal of African people and Jews and a whole lotta stuff.

He never did apologize for taking credit for claiming Tintin as the first BD though. That I know of.

But credit where credit is due. Although Tintin wasn’t the first BD, it was the first to gain popularity outside of France and Belgium and by 1934 Tintin (and I assume Hergé) moved onto a new publisher, was selling all over the place, and had been translated into dozens of languages.

A Popular Year

1934, must have been a popular year for comics because it’s during this year that we also see the publication of the 8-page BD Le Journal de Mickey. It was an instant success. Publishers, not being idiots, quickly brought over more American cartoon characters and tossed them into the pages of their comic pages and BD.

Tough Luck for Superman

But all didn’t continue going so splendidly for those US characters. So, in the early 1940s there was this little skirmish called World War II. You might have heard of it.

Germany got all grabby and invaded France and Belgium. And because the Americans weren’t telling Germany what a great job they did with those invasions, the Germans put a ban on all US comics and cartoon characters because they questioned the morals of those fictional characters. Yes, the regime who invented concentration camps said Superman had questionable morals.

Anyway, as you might expect this only made the French and Belgians want comics even more. Since it was really tricky, and probably dangerous, to get your hands on American comics, young artists seized the chance to fill the need for some levity.

These artists emulated the American style and stories to learn the ropes, but eventually they created their own characters and styles.

And a couple artists from this time period who the BD nerds out there will recognize are Peyo, who would go on to create The Smurfs, and Albert Uderzo, who created Asterix and Obelix.

War is Over…But Not for Comics

So yay, we’re up to the late 1940s and the war is over. Unfortunately, it’s not quite over for comics. See, during the war those young artists I mentioned earlier gained status, their BD were popular, and they had probably kept morale up for many people.

So they were rewarded by being tossed into prison. Seriously. When the new French government came into place after the war, it was mostly made of people who had been strong players in the resistance. Well, they claimed that these artists could only have done well during a time of war by collaborating with the Germans. See, conspiracy theories are nothing new.

And US comics weren’t fairing any better in post-war France than they did during the German occupation. The communist party of France reinstated the ban on American comics because they promoted capitalism and non-communist ideals.

I mean just look at Bruce Wayne. That mansion. The Batmobile. A freaking butler. Clearly his main goal wasn’t to fight crime, it was to subvert the communist cause.

Anyway, during this time many French artists hightailed it to Belgium to avoid scrutiny. Many French magazines that contained comics didn’t survive the war or this post-war period, so who knows how many hijinks we missed out on.

Things are Looking Up

By the 1950s most of the accused artists had their names cleared and were released from prison. And again Tintin and other BD gain a foothold across the globe. And it’s also in the 1950s, 1959 to be exact, that the French periodical Pilote published something to attract teenage readers. The something was Asterix.

And if you don’t know Asterix, he’s this scrappy little Gaul from the time of the Roman invasion of France (or Gaul). And it’s one of my absolute favorites mainly due to the tongue-in-cheek humor, which unfortunately doesn’t always come across in the English translations (especially with the character names), so if you can read French, opt for that version instead.

Sign of the Times

In the 1960s and into the 70s, social norms really start changing in the world. It’s also when some of those people who might have been kids when Tintin and Asterix came out, were now becoming adults. As such, and because there is just this huge increase in BD artists, we start seeing far more adult BD and more adults reading BD, as well as an increase in comic periodicals such as Le Canard Sauvage.

Honoring the Art

So even though one source I used to research this episode said the 1980s saw a steep decline in BD, I’m not quite sure if that’s accurate because in 1982 the French government recognized the importance BD to France’s cultural status and in promoting a French product to the world.

Even more clear that BD weren’t in decline, the French Minister of Culture declared comic art was a true art form, and it became known as the Neuvieme Art, or ninth art  in his policy plan called 15 new measures in favor of the comic.

BD were so NOT in decline that this policy plan was revamped in the late 1990s.

Belgium was a little slower to adopt comic art as a true art form in its own right, but eventually they did, and for a long time France and Belgium were the only two countries to recognize comic art as legit art and to give it backing by cultural authorities.

And the Belgians, even though they lagged behind at first, really went all in with this comics are great idea and built what is the largest comic book museum in the world. It’s called the Belgium Comic Strip Museum in Brussels. It opened in 1989, and receives an average of 200,000 visitors a year…obviously in non-pandemic years.

Updates

So that’s all I’ve got for BD, which means it’s Update Time!

So, as you can already hear, the podcast is back. As I mentioned before the break, I had intended to do video book reviews during the break. I did one. I’m telling you, April was a weird month. But I have done a couple more and they are up on my YouTube channel, if you want to watch them.

I’ve been doing a lot of video stuff lately, so if you like a bit of video goofiness you should probably subscribe to my channel because I guess that’s what I’m supposed to tell you to do to make the YouTube gods happy.

Also, this week I released the third book in my Cassie Black trilogy! It’s so weird to be done!! And if you’re listening to this before the end of May 2021, I’m running a pretty nice discount on Book One of the trilogy, which is The Undead Mr Tenpenny. It’s only 99c on most retailers, but like I said, only for a few more days, so get cracking if you want to get the deal.

As for the new book, the new book is

—THE UNTANGLED CASSIE BLACK—

Sometimes taking an overdose of magic is the least of your worries.

Cassie Black has just lost two people through a magic portal. Her archenemy, the Mauvais, is threatening to destroy city after city if HQ doesn’t hand her over to him. And HQ isn’t exactly saying no to that offer.

As HQ debates her fate, Cassie refuses to sit by and watch the grass grow between the toes of the surveillance gnomes. Biting back her life rule to never get involved, she knows the only way to stop the Mauvais is to go after him herself.

Which is exactly what he wants. Because the instant Cassie falls into his hands, the Mauvais will gain the unlimited power he’s always craved.

So don’t get captured, right? Easy for you to say.

Trouble is, there’s a traitor within HQ who’s proving to be more devious, more powerful, and to have more tricks up the sleeve than anyone could have ever guessed.

In this page-turning conclusion of the Cassie Black Trilogy, the curses are flying, the pastries are plentiful, the bookworms are slithering, and the magical batteries are charged to capacity.

Wrapping Up

Alright everyone, thank you so much for joining me again. If you like what you’ve heard, you can support the show by buying one of my books. And if you do buy one of my books be sure to leave a review. That really is the best way to support any indie author…and your favorite podcast. I am your favorite, right? Right?

Ah well, have a great couple weeks and I will hoot at you next time!

Credits

The book owl podcast is a production of daisy dog media, copyright 2021, all rights reserved. The theme music was composed by Kevin Macleod. Audio processing by auphonic .com. Video production by Headliner dot app.

Book Reviews, Having Fun

The Book Owl’s Book Review Video Debut: A Scourge of Pleasantries

Hello Book Nerds of Bloglandia!

If you caught my Mini-Episode/Quick Announcement last week you’ll know I’m taking a spring break holiday from The Book Owl Podcast during the month of April while I do a bit of nest fluffing (aka “trying to stay sane as I get everything in order for my next two book releases in April and May”).

But as is my way, the minute I cross one thing off my to-do list, I quickly add another.

Which, as I mentioned in the mini-episode, is why I got the crazy notion in my head to try out doing some book review videos.

Anyway, in this first quickie video (less than two minutes), I quickly explain what to expect with this madness…

Video Time: Click it, if you dare!!

And in this second video, it’s my premier video review!! No, no, hold your applause a moment, while I introduce it…

The review is for the amazingly hilarious paranormal mystery Gobbelino London and a Scourge of Pleasantries by Kim M. Watt. If you liked my book The Undead Mr. Tenpenny, you’re going to LOVE Gobbelino’s antics (and vice versa)!

Just give a clickity clack on the image below to watch me babbling about this wonderful tale…

Video Time, Part Two: Go on, click it, you know you want to.

Coming Soon…

As I say in that intro video, I’m not sure how regularly I’ll post these reviews. I’ve got a few books lined up that I’m eager to share with you, so there’ll definitely be more coming soon. Whether you like it or not!

Looking for More of the Same?

If like Mr. Tenpenny and Gobbelino London, you enjoy a little paranormal with your fantasies and/or your mysteries, please do have a browse around these book bundles I’ve been invited to join this month.

Remember, these bundles are a crucial part of my ability to get the word out about my books, but I can only be a part of the fun if folks like you check out these bundles.

You don’t have to buy a thing. Just browse a bit. it really does make a difference to me and all the authors involved. And who knows, you might just discover your next favorite story!

Thanks everyone! Just click the image for whichever bundles suit your fancy.

Happy book hunting…

99c and Free Fantasy and Paranormal Fiction (that pretty much says it all, right?):

Witchy Book Fair (paranormal and fantasy fiction with, you guessed it, witches and magic):

Paranormal Women’s Mysteries (mysteries in which the ladies are sleuthing out the clues):

April Fool’s Mysteries (cozies, thrillers, and more…these aren’t necessarily paranormal, but most of them look pretty darn intriguing!):

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Episodes, Having Fun

19. The Tiptop Books of 2020

One of the taglines for The Book Owl Podcast is, “Everything Books, Minus the Reviews,” but as this wacky year is winding down, I thought I’d make an exception and share with you my absolute top book picks I found during the extra reading time 2020 has provided.

Links Mentioned in This Episode

Like what you hear?

Transcript (or Roughly So)

Hey everyone, this is Tammie Painter and you’re listening to the Book Owl Podcast, the podcast where I entertain your inner book nerd with tales of quirky books and literary lore.

Introduction

As I mentioned last time when we were chatting about the history of cookbooks, this episode is going to be a little different. When coming up with the concept of this podcast I wanted to steer clear of turning it into a review show because there’s already a gob of those types of podcasts being created by people far cleverer than me.

But since it’s nearing time to wrap up the year, I figured why not share with you my favorite books I read this year. Plus, I’d already written this as a post for my main blog over at Tammie Painter.com, so recycling that content is saving me a little work during this crazy busy time of year.

Saying Thanks

Before we jump into things, I just want to shout out a ginormous, triple dose of thanks first to Jonny Pongratz of the Jaunts and Haunts blog for not only leaving some terrific comments on The Book Owl blog, but also for sharing Episode 17 on his blog AND for helping support the show by purchasing several of my stories from my Payhip Bookstore after listening to the Bram Stoker episode, which I think was episode 16.

Jonny is also a writer and he’s proving himself quite talented so I encourage you to check out his story Conscience if you like sci-fi, or his book Reaper if you’re a horror fan.

The second round of thanks goes to Anne Lawson for sharing the podcast in her newsletter. Anne’s an Australian artist who has been doing some amazing stuff lately with watercolor collages that are just stunningly eye-catching, so be sure to check her stuff out using the link in the show notes.

And as ever, thank you to Tierney of TierneyCreates for her profusion of kind comments about the show. Tierney, sometimes I swear your words are what keeps me producing this show on the days I dread doing so.

Let’s Get On With It

Alright enough gushy good feelings, let’s get on with the show.

So, I think we can agree 2020 has been a pretty crap year. But as far as reading goes, it hasn’t been all that awful. And for me at least, the extra book time has meant the discovery of some amazing tomes. 

When the pandemic first seemed utterly overwhelming and super duper scary (now it’s just normal scary), I needed something to lighten the mood. So I rushed to my library’s ebook lending app, went immediately to the humor fiction category, and added tons of titles to my to-read list. I even managed to read several of them, and some of those happily became some of my favorite books of 2020.

As the year progressed, I moved back into more of my favorite genres of mystery, paranormal fantasy, and historical fiction. Really, I’ll read just about anything and can’t fathom how people only read a single genre. Anyway, all that is to say, I spent a lot of time reading this year.

And yes, that extra reading (and listening since I love my audiobooks) has introduced me to some horrible pieces of “literature” but since there’s already been enough negativity this year I won’t torment you with those. I did however make a promise to myself this year to review every book I read, so if you scroll through my Goodreads or Bookbub reviews, you’ll find those lumps of literary coal. 

But let’s end 2020 on a bright note as I share with you the absolute best books I read during this wacky year. And just to be clear, while some of these books were published in 2020, many of them aren’t necessarily new, they were just new to me. 

And of course, I want to know if you’ve read any of these or if you have any top picks for 2020, so be sure to use the link in the show notes to either contact me or to leave a note on the blog post that goes along with this episode.

Okay Onto the Best Books of 2020

So, yeah picking this this was a challenge because, looking over my review tally, it looks like I read over 100 books this year.

Now before you think I lounge around with a book in my hands all day, at least half of that 100 were audiobooks which I gobble up while poking around in the garden, running, and doing exciting things like cleaning the cat box.

Still, I thought it would help things and help organize my if I break the list down a bit into novels, series, etc. And then I’ll wrap up with my absolute top pick of 2020. Ooh, suspense!!!

Alrighty then, so under each category, I’m listing the books in order of favorite-ness. And yes, that’s a word now.

Favorite Novels….

Note: Because of the rules regarding the use of affiliate links, if you’d like to discover my list of favorite books for 2020, please continue reading at https://thebookowlpodcast.com/the-tiptop-books-of-2020/

Update Time

So just some quick updates

The podcast will be back in 2021. As ever, I have gobs of ideas, but if there’s a book- library- or author-related topic that you want me to explore, please drop me a line and let me know. 

As for writing, this has been a tough month. I’ve hit a wall of absolute doubt about my writing, about my sales, about my ability to get the word out about my books, and I’ve been kind of wondering what’s the point.

I’m still working on the Cassie Black books because that’s the kind of see-a-project-through person I am, but I’m feeling really uncertain about publishing the books because after sending a pretty big sample to my newsletter folks, it just doesn’t seem anyone is interested in it. And that’s worrying because my newsletter readers should be the people most interested in reading my work.

So basically I’m left feeling like I’ve written something that no one will give a rat’s behind about. I just honestly don’t know what to do to regain confidence in my writing because that’s one thing I’ve always had, but as I read over my work lately, it just sounds like utter non-sensical crap. 

Anyway, sorry for the Debbie Downer after such a fun episode, but hey it wouldn’t be 2020 without a little sense of doom, right?

Okay my book loving friends, that is it for this episode. If you enjoyed the show, I’d love it if you shared it with just one other person. Have a great couple weeks, and I will hoot at you next time.

The Book Owl Podcast is a production of Daisy Dog Media, copyright 2020, all rights reserved. The theme music was composed by Kevin Macleod. Audio processing by Auphonic.com

Book Bargains, Having Fun

Treats for Birds and Book Nerds

Hello Book Nerds!

Now, you know the Book Owl loves books and libraries, but did you know there’s a library just for the birds? Crazy right? And here I thought the Book Owl was the only feathered friend who liked spending time amongst the stacks.

But it turns out a school librarian from Virginia, Rebecca Flowers (so appropriate), has set up a bird feeder in her garden that looks just like the check-out desk at your local library…

If you’d like to read the article about the feeder and about Rebecca’s other amazing efforts to get books into everyone’s hands, just head over to the full article over on the American Library Association’s website. Or, if you’d like to “check out” what the birds have been up to lately be sure to pop over to The Bird Library’s feed on Instagram.

*Note: The Bird Library used to have a livestream feed on YouTube, but it seems like it’s no longer working. :((

Reading Treats for You

Since bird seed probably isn’t your idea of a treat, I’ve collaborated with a couple authors to bring you bundles of book-filled joy!

Below you’ll find loads of fantastic fiction to treat yourself throughout December, as well as stockpiling a few tomes to cosy up with in a comfy reading chair over the next few wintry weeks (unless you’re in the southern hemisphere…then you can enjoy your books while basking in the summer sunshine).

The bundles below feature a wide range of genres, so there’s sure to be something that appeals to your book-loving heart.

Happy Book Hunting!!

This first bundle is hosted by author Randall Krzak who chose several of my short stories (including Testing the Waters, The Ghost of Arlen Hall, and Mrs. Morris Meets Death) as part of his fabulous bundle. Note: The books in this promo are not necessarily Xmas-themed, but all books are (or should be) only 99c. What a deal!!!

This fabulous little bundle is hosted by the talented Stephanie Mirro. Among loads of other goodies, this box set promo contains both The Osteria Chronicles Box Set (Books 1 – 3) for only $3.99 ($3 off normal list price) and Domna: The Complete Set for a mere $4.99 (a 50% discount compared to buying the books individually)

A Quick Reminder About These Bundles

These promotions are all run by indie authors via BookFunnel. They’re by far one of the best ways to get out the word about my books without breaking my tiny marketing bank.

However, to participate in these group promos, I have to maintain a good BookFunnel reputation…and you can help with that.

Every time you come back to this post and explore what’s on offer in these bundles, you help boost my reputation. It costs you nothing to browse the bundles below, but provides a big boost that allows me to continue to promote my work in a beneficial and affordable way.

Thank you for your support!!!

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Book Bargains

News Leaving You Bird-Brained? Free Fiction is Sure to Help.

Hey Book Nerds!

What a week, right? I know it’s tempting to keep checking the news, keep checking in on those painfully close numbers, keep checking in on whether it’s time again to panic buy toilet paper, but for the sake of your mental health, Dr. Book Owl is here to prescribe that you escape for a while into the pages of a good book with November’s Book Bundles.

And don’t worry, unlike most health care in the U.S., this proven therapy won’t cost you more than $1 and in most cases it’s completely free.

As usual, I have a few books and short stories in each promo below.

Note: These promos are a great way for me to get the word out about my books in an affordable manner, but I can only participate in them if people (that’s YOU) browse the bundles. It costs you nothing to scroll through what’s on offer, and would be a BIG help in keeping my book marketing costs down. THANKS!!!

Happy browsing and be sure to let me know what goodies you end up finding. 

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Promo #1….This promo features a wide range of genres, including mystery, romance, fantasy, thrillers, and more. And yes, all the books should be completely free.

Promo # 2…As you can guess, this one has fantasy and sci-fi tomes for free or for a mere 99 pennies.

Promo #3….All fantasy. All free. What more is there to say? Oh, except that for some reason, this one loads slooooowly, so, as with the election results, please be patient:))