I had the pleasure of attending the Fumetto festival in Luzerne last Saturday. Although I would have liked to attend more days and for longer periods of time, personal constraints did not make it possible – nevertheless the experience I had was very rewarding. Knowing beforehand that my time in Luzerne would be limited, I planned ahead what I wanted to explore and left open the possibility for randomness. My main motivations were the “Small Press Heaven” and the exhibitions of Frémok and Lorenzo Mattotti.
When I arrived at the festival’s main meeting point I headed directly to explore the Small Press Heaven. My first interaction was with the Latvian publiser kuš!. They publish a great deal of their books in small format, A6, which I find especially appealing. I treated myself to several of their mini kuš!, which are individual artists’ comics, and also to some of their regular numbers where they publish a large amount of artists in the same issue.
Then I talked with the people of Stripburger (Slovenia), Kutikuti (Finland) and Centrala (Poland). They were all really friendly, and enthusiastic to discuss their publications and aims. All I can say is that the books I bought are all great discoveries because even if I had seen some of what they publish on the net, it can never be the same as having them in your hands in a neatly printed form. They’re all sometimes fun, at times odd, and overall very unique and highly recommendable.
Afterwards I found out that there would be a panel discussion with Frémok’s artists Yvan Alagbé and Olivier Deprez. I impatiently headed there and listened to their talk, where they discussed the history of Frémok as a collective. They also gave details about their editorial concept, which is non hierarchical. They seek to incorporate the use of mixed techniques to have, as a result, works that depart from the classical comics style. Frémok’s works are highly poetic and experimental as well. For example, they talked about Match-Catch, which is a book that was made by some of Frémok’s people in collaboration with handicapped artists.
Something I found quite interesting was their visible commitment to producing books that have a different kind of vision, a vision that clearly reflects artistic freedom. The moderator of the panel discussion inquired about how comfortable they were in financial terms, taking into account that the works of Frémok are not maybe bestsellers because of their style. Both Olivier and Yvan were emphatic in being both keen and confident to maintain their artistic freedom, not thinking too much about financial matters. For Yvan, it’s a chosen lifestyle, he prefers to be joyfully producing the work he does than maybe being more financially comfortable, but producing works that he would not feel like doing. This response was very much inspiring!
Then I headed to the Fremok’s exhibition and reception. By the way, I did not know there would be one so I was quite happy to know that I would be able to interact more with the artists while having a glass of wine. This was a really fantastic exhibition where the works were smartly ordered to create a world of its own. I was delighted to see in original some of the works I appreciate the most.
During the reception I could talk more in detail with Mr Alagbé about Match-Catch. He explained to me that they regarded handicapped people as independent artists of their own and that they were not imposing limits on them. He said that Frémok’s artists had to adapt to them and not the other way around. The result is a formidable book in which narrative is not linear and therefore, very dynamic. Personally, I’m not very much into narrative styles in general, I’ve always preferred to read a poetry book than a novel, and Frémok’s books are poetical imagery linked with sometimes poetic writing. I highly recommend école de la misère by Yvan Alagbé, coloforme by Etienne Beck, and plus si entente by Dominique Goblet and Kai Pffeifer.
During the exhibition I also talked a little bit with Kai Pffeifer and I told him I was surprised to realize that the original works did not differ that much from their form in a the published book. He explained to me that first of all the editorial committee was formed by the artists themselves and that they placed high importance first, to the scanner, and second, to the printing process. He explained with great detail the complex printing process, but I can not tell you more about it because I forgot and it encompassed things I did not know.
Then I headed to see Lorenzo Mattotti’s exhibition named Oltremai. Oltremai is another world of its own, all in black and white, populated by dark and ever moving characters. As you enter the exhibition room you sense you’re entering something special by starting to notice the soft and eerie music that accompanies the works. The imagery contained in it is fantastic, sometimes mythological, and an aspect that astonished me is the flow that can be felt in each individual work. The whole works do not follow a narrative and the pieces are nameless. The book of Oltremai, big and heavy, does good justice to the original works of the exhibition.
Finally I headed to the train station to catch my train back home (Neuchâtel). To make my travel more enjoyable I started drawing some of my impressions of the festival. One of those drawings is my interpretation of Yvan Alagbé.
To conclude, I would like to say that it was overall a very gratifying experience and I was very much pleased to interact with publishers and artists alike. Surely something to repeat in 2017!
Raúl Burgos Paredes is a Mexican tripolar social scientist who has been living in Switzerland for the last 7 years. He finds time, in the midst of writing his dissertation, to explore his drawing abilities and enjoy all the comics he can find. You can see more of his work HERE.