The Embassy of Brazil in London recently hosted a fascinating discussion about the rich world of independent Brazilian comics with artist, writer and Festival organiser Rafael Coutinho, interviewed by Dr Edward King from the University of Bristol, author of Posthumanism and the Graphic Novel in Latin America. I recorded the event, and you can listen to it here.
Working with some incredible Brazilian comic creators like Wamberto Nicomedes on projects such as Return to Planet Earth, I was curious to find out more about the comics community there and it proved a very interesting evening.
The talk centred on Rafael’s account of the history of Brazilian comics which exploded in the 1980s, faded in the 1990s but are now enjoying an incredible renaissance, many titles little known beyond Brazil itself but selling well at comics events and digitally, too.
The sheer variety of comics being created is truly dynamic, exploring and pushing the form on many levels in print, through combining medium (music, comics and animation) is pretty incredible and well worth exploring although, very few sadly, are available in English.
I recorded the event and you can listen the Rafael’s talk here on Soundcloud. (Apologies for any static that kicked in when Rafael and Edward started using microphones, and any problems you might suffer if some questions posed by the mixed, curious audience).
While recent political changes are clearly presenting a challenge for Brazilian creators (and not just in the field of comics) the country’s comics scene is livelier than ever. Festivals are flourishing across the country, enabling strong sales of independent comics, and Brazilian artists and scriptwriters are gaining an international reputation.
Rafael Coutinho, who pulled no punches about concerns about the situation for many in Brazil, has been at the centre of these developments, but remains hugely optimistic for comics and art there.
The son of the satirical cartoonist Laerte, the subject of the 2017 Netflix documentary Laerte-se, Rafael has published a number of acclaimed comics and graphic novels that explore São Paulo underworlds, including Cachalote (2010, with Daniel Galera) and Mensur, which was nominated for Brazil’s prestigious Jabuti Prize in 2018.
He is also the curator of the Des.Gráfica festival of independent comics, zines and graphic arts held annually in São Paulo, hosted by the Museu da Imagem e do Som. This video gives you a great feel for the size and scale of the event.
There’s information here on the Museum’s web site about upcoming comics events between November 2019 and May 2020
Separately, the evening also gave me the opportunity to catch up with a number of comic creators and commentators, including the ever-busy Paul Gravett, Dean Simons, Woodrow Phoenix (who’s working on a new edition of his graphic novel Rumble Strip, first published by Myriad Editions back in 2008), and to meet Colleen Douglas, Editor in Chief at Amigo Comics, whose graphic novel TITAN launches in May. (Find out more here on PREVIEWS – the cut off for comic shop orders is Friday 5th April)
My thanks to Rafael, Edward and the Embassy of Brazil for an entertaining talk – one of many such events promoting Brazilian culture at the Embassy – and for support for my trip from the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
• Listen to a recording of Independent Comics in Brazil here on Sioundcloud – recorded on Thursday 28th March 2018, Embassy of Brazil in London, 14-16 Cockspur Road, London