Benoit Peeters: How comic books help us to relive our childhood

Art from The Obscure Cities project by Francois Schuiten

Art from The Obscure Cities project by Francois Schuiten

Benoit Peeters, Professor of Graphic Fiction and Comic Art at Lancaster University, who will be one of those championing Tintin in the “Asterix vs Tintin” debate tomorrow at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, discusses how comic books help us to relive our childhood over The Conversation web site.

“Traditionally, comic books have been aimed primarily at children – to such a degree that they are often identified with them,” he begins, his article prefaced by the stunning piece of art above from The Obscure Cities project by Francois Schuiten. “Regardless of the recent evolution of the genre, particularly given the growing popularity of more adult graphic novels, to me the link between comics and childhood continues to be very profound.

“There are certain regressive aspects to our love of comics and “bandes dessinées” (or BD) – as they are known in French, my native language. For example, collectors often pay incredible prices for figurines and old editions. They also have a remarkable desire to keep alive mythical characters after the death of their creator: from Batman and Astroboy to Spirou and Blake and Mortimer, characters continue to be resuscitated, with varying degrees of success. It’s as if the readers who were comforted in their childhood by these heroes can’t bear to see them disappear.

“This seems to be something particular to the medium of the comic book. Of course, we remember the novels that we loved during our childhood, but we don’t read and return to them as often as our favourite comics…”

You can read the full article here on The Conversation, an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.

Lancaster University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK, as do Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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