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Franco-Belgian Comics

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Among European comics, comic book series made primarily in France and Belgium — also known as BD, from their French name bande dessinée ("drawn strip") — are a huge industry by themselves (3rd largest in the world, after U.S. Comic Books and Japanese Manga) and have produced many great classics. They are also quite distinct from their American and Japanese counterparts (though cultural co-mingling has reduced those a bit, especially concerning manga; their extremely high popularity since the early '90s has forced the industry to adapt a bit to survive).

First, the mainstream and intellectual perception of the medium is in stark contrast to that of the U.S.; in Europe, comics are called "le Neuvième Art", the Ninth Art (coined by Morris). The influence of French-language comics in Europe has spread this concept to other national comics industries, such as those of Great Britain, Spain and Italy (and South America and Africa, to a lesser degree), to a noticeable extent. The lack of any truly constraining Comics Code or puritan Moral Guardian-enforced laws allowed creators and publishers to use more mature themes and concepts in their works, and to later move away from purely children's stories to more adult-oriented works in the The '60s virtually seamlessly (the fact that it was a more permissive time than The '50s probably helped). While youth-oriented comics are still a major part of the industry, many are perennial Long-Runners and/or are rife with Parental Bonus, and there is little to no social stigma attached to being a fan or a collector. In fact, it is almost impossible to find a house in France or in Belgium that doesn't have a bunch of comics on a shelf somewhere.

The publishing methods and format is distinct from that in the U.S. Volumes, called "albums", are usually at A4 size (21cm x 30cmnote , the slightly-larger European equivalent of "letter-sized" 8.5'' x 11'' paper), hardbound and normally between 40 and 60 pages long. New albums in a series typically appear at a rate of one per year. Really prolific series can go up to three or four albums a year. However, it isn't unheard of for some authors (especially those who are prone to a Cast of Snowflakes and/or Scenery Porn) to need several years for a new album. This rarely seems to put off fans of a series. To European readers, this simply prioritizes Quality over Quantity.

Like manga, many titles are first pre-published piece by piece in the publisher's comics magazine, mostly those aimed at children and teens. In those, one-page funnies blur the lines between comic books and Newspaper Comics. For longer stories however, one notable difference with American and Japanese publishing formats is that those usually cut stories into episodes for pre-publication before compiling them into volumes, the result being that a single volume has explicit "chapters" that make sub-units of narration; whereas Franco-Belgian comics' unit of narration is the album itself, and pre-published fragments will typically start and end more abruptly.

Since the early 2000s and the boon in superhero films adapted from American comics, there have been multiple live action adaptations of Franco-Belgian comics on film, mostly produced in France. There have been more misses than hits at that, overall.

Noteworthy that a tabletop role-playing game known as The Troubleshooters by Krister Sundelin was made specifically to capture the feel of Franco-Belgian adventure comics.

See also Belgian Comics, comics strictly made in Belgium, and containing comics from Flanders that don't fall under the Franco-Belgian tradition. Ironically, due to the bilingual nature of Belgium, bande dessinée tend to get translated into Dutch before most other languages (rarely the other way around) and are usually more popular in the neighboring Netherlands than actual Flemish comics.

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French-Belgian comic book series:

Franco-Belgian comic creators:

Foreign comics influenced by Franco-Belgian school:

  • Mortadelo y Filemón, the uber-famous Spanish comic book by Ibáñez, belongs eminently to the traditional Escuela Bruguera, but it featured a ton of Franco-Belgian influences in its earliest years. André Franquin was one of its main influencers.
  • Zerocalcare's comics are Italian with strong Franco-Belgian influences. It helps that he has actual French ancestors.

Alternative Title(s): French Belgian Comic Books, Bande Dessinee