Although France has changed much in recent decades, colonial-era imagery continues to circulate widely in comics, in part because the colonial archives are easily accessible, and through the republication of colonial-era comics that are viewed as classics. The latter include the Tintin series of comic books, by the Belgian artist Hergé, and the "Zig and Puce" series by Alain Saint-Ogan, a Frenchman. In this important new study Mark McKinney situates comics in debates about French colonialism, arguing that cartoonists still use representations of colonial history in their comics as a way of intervening in debates about contemporary France and its current relationships to its former colonies. McKinney argues that comics offer unique opportunities to both reproduce and thereby perpetuate colonial ideologies, images and discourses, as well as to deconstruct and contest them. The ways, and the degree to which, they do one or the other tell us a great deal about the heritage of imperialism and colonialism in French comics and society.
Mark McKinney has produced an informative and detailed mapping of the terrains of colonial expeditions and exhibitions in French comics, supplemented by annotated appendices. He has then drawn on the material brought together to build a compelling essay with relevance to historians, (graphic) artists and their commentators, and students, scholars, and researchers with an interest in understanding how France has constructed and projected its places in the world, and the questions it asks itself about this enterprise today.
Murray Pratt, Contemporary French Civilization, Vol. 37
I was delighted with this work. I thought it provocative, intellectually engaging, demonstrative of excellent and broad research both into colonial cultural history and the history of comics (skilfully and engagingly woven together).
This important book argues that cartoonists use representations of colonial history as a way of intervening in debates about contemporary France and its relationships to its former colonies. Mark McKinney argues that comics offer opportunities to reproduce and perpetuate colonial ideologies as well as to deconstruct and contest them—and the degree to which they do one or the other reveals much about the heritage of colonialism in French society.
This book is an important contribution to the history of the Francophone comic strip.
Études Littéraires africaines
The Colonial Heritage of French Comics directs it towards a multidisciplinary academic audience. The text provides an extensive review of a previously understudied visual resource pertinent to the continued research concerning France’s colonial past (and present). In this final but essential aspect of the text, it is an original and very useful work.
Modern Language Review, Vol. 107, Part 4