Literary Comics Columns

Posted by on September 9th, 2010 at 5:17 AM

An interesting experiment is taking place at (english language version!) who have gotten into the habit of asking comics creators to contribute a column on a literary site. Born out of the tradition of the literary column, the results are rather unexpected and … beautiful. Even creators employing a highly cartoony style like Maaike Hartjes succeed in creating surprising and abstract images that float to the surface transforming the comics columns into a highly graphic design containers churning out some very introspective imagery.

I suppose context is king here. is a literary site that propagates diversity and stimulates reflection and debate through the usage of the written word. This mission statement is put into action by offering a platform to writers from Belgium and The Netherlands who participate in the creation of news items and opinion pieces. Reader interaction is also an important part of this debate. is seeped in culture and idealism and it is these surroundings that seem to inspire most comics artists to explore captivating imagery.

What’s remarkable is the fact hat almost non of the comics artists make use of sequential images but prefer to bundle their energy into one image. And it works beautifully. An artist usually concedes to 4 columns leading to a themed work by style or subject. The biggest impact is most often derived when a creator steps away from his comfort zone. Here are a few examples (all female creators which is also nice to see):

Judith Vanistendael for example chooses a poetic approach, emphasizing the introspective moments of life. Her fluid brush work from her comics is replaced by a rough line alternating between thick and thin, letting the lines fight it out on the page to form an image.

A row of panels from Vanistendael’s breakout work The Negro and the Virgin

Vanistendael breaks with her fluid linework in her column

Known for her highly personal and insightful comics work, Maaike Hartjes style is best described as beautiful stick figures but for her column, she uses a graphic approach where image is not readily understood but takes some thought to figure out its subjective meaning.

An example of Maaike’s emotive stick figures

And her highly graphic work for the columns

Using a theme of ‘Find the differences’, Barbara Stok uses her regular drawing style to emphasize diversity to put a loop on human behaviour that turns out to be not so different after all when taken out of context. It’s very simple and direct but when the idea is good, the visual has a good impact.

Barbara stays in her comfort zone stylewise but offers up an intriguing moral pose by juxtaposing images

These are just a few examples of the columns, for more (and larger images) check and type in ‘graphic column’ in the search. Future creators lined up are Brecht Evers (whose The Wrong Place is soon to be published by Drawn & Quarterly), Daniel Ginelli etctera.

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