Switzerland’s BDFIL Comics Festival highlights the comics of Taiwan in May

Art by Lung-chieh Li
Art by Lung-chieh Li

The programme for BDFIL Comics Festival in Lausanne, Switzerland, May 1st to 14th, and comics archivist, publisher and author Paul Gravett will be be curating an exhibition about the remarkable comics culture and creativity of their guest country, Taiwan.

In partnership with the Cultural and Economic Delegation of Taipei, the Cultural Center of Taiwan in Paris and the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan, BDFIL is to host, for the first time in Switzerland, a large exhibition devoted to Taiwanese comics.

This is a first for the long-running festival too, by honouring comic strips from outside Europe.

To orchestrate this exhibition, BDFIL is counting on the shrewd eye of Paul Gravett, an internationally recognised comic book expert, and the participation of comic creators and Festival guests, Li-Chin Lin, Zhou Jian-Xin, Zuo Hsuan, Lung-chieh Li, Ding Pao Yen and Sean Chuang.

Less famous in Europe than Japanese manga or Korean webtoon, Taiwanese comics have a long history that juggles between distribution and censorship, between success and the necessary renewal of a form of expression that accompanies the lives of Taiwanese since the 1950s. In a democracy that is constantly in danger, comics then become a tool for dialogue and defense of a culture specific to the island.

The exhibition will focus on the history and specificities of this production, while questioning the relevance of the very notion of a national art. Other questions will run through this exhibition: are there major themes that run through these works? What is the role of art in a society in the midst of democratic effervescence? How to cross borders, political and cultural? How to represent the culture specific to the island of Taiwan?

The exhibition, in French and English, will be complemented by meetings, a translation workshop and guided tours. An evening specially dedicated to Taiwanese culture will take place during the second week of the festival.

After studying history in Taiwan and a brief professional experience in an import-export company, Li-Chin Lin chose to become an illustrator and left the island to study art in France at the École Supérieure de l’Image. d’Angoulême, then at the animation school La Poudrière in Valence.

Formose, her first graphic novel, published in French in 2017 by Éditions çà et là, received the Literary Prize for High School Students of the Île-de-France Region in 2012.

Her second graphic novel, Fudafudak, was published in French in 2017, also by Éditions çà et là.

Zhou Jian-Xin. Image: Chou Sing Chu Foundation
Zhou Jian-Xin. Image: Chou Sing Chu Foundation

Zhou Jian-Xin graduated from the Taipei National University of the Arts. He specialises in arts education, and illustration methods like block printing and ink wash drawing.

His works include The Maroon Oriole, The Squirrel and the Banyan Tree, Tiny’s Big Adventure, The Lost Cat, and Little Bai.

He was awarded the 2014 Taiwan Golden Butterfly Award for Best Book Design, an International Design Awards Honourable Mention, and the top prize at the 2016 Hsin-Yi Children’s Literature Awards, for The Lost Cat and The Maroon Oriole.

Zuo Hsuan 左左萱 works as a freelance illustrator and comic artist in Taiwan.

Currently a student at the Design Institute of Taiwan Normal University, Zuo Hsuan has collaborated with various publishers to design the graphic novel covers.

His first comic, Summer Temple Festival, won the Bronze Award at the 10th Japan International Manga Award.

Art by Lung-chieh Li

Lung-chieh Li is a Taiwanese manhua artist. Some of his best-known works include Roachgirl (覺醒人間-螂女飛翔傳) and Taiwan Determination: Legend of Beigang (新世紀北港神拳).

Nominated at the Algiers International Comics Festival in Algeria with his comic Animal Impact ((動物衝擊頻道) in 2011, Lung-chieh Li has exhibited many times in Taiwan and abroad, including Planet Manga at the Centre Pompidou Paris in 2012.

He also published Taiwan Super Riders (台灣超級機車) and his work has been exhibited at the Angoulême International Comics Festival.

Multidisciplinary artist 丁柏晏 Ding Pao Yen touches both drawing and painting and creates installations or animations.

Very influenced by underground culture, he has a strong taste for magazines and DIY fanzines. He also created his own independent publishing house, “Morning Anxiety”.

In 2016, he won the first “young talent” prize in the Pingtung region, Taiwan.

Sean Chuang

Sean Chuang | 小莊 is a commercial film director. He published the highly acclaimed A Filmmaker’s Notes in the form of a graphic novel in 1997. In 2009 he finished his second work in the form, The Window, a full-color dialogue-free comic that was over a decade in the making.

In 2013 he finished his third graphic novel, 80s Diary in Taiwan, which has been sold in the French, German, and Italian language markets.

English language rights have also been sold for his graphic novel adaptation of Wu Ming-Yi’s novel The Illusionist on the Skywalk. Sean Chuang continues to work both in film and illustration.

• BDFIL – Festival de Comic Strip 1st – 14th May 2023, Lausanne, Switzerland | Web: bdfil.ch

Paul Gravett is online at paulgravett.com

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