Friday, January 13, 2006

Enki Bilal

Enki Bilal
Enki Bilal is one of the major figures in European comic art. Bilal was born in Yugoslavia (now Serbia), but has spent most of his life in France. His comics albums (what we misname here as “graphic novels”), are among the most popular and most respected in Europe.

He sometimes writes his own stories and often works with writer Pierre Christin. I haven’t read anything specific about his technique, but it has always looked to me like a mixed media approach – watercolor combined with colored pencils or chalks.

The remarkable thing about Bilal’s art is his incredible use of texture. The stories he illustrates tend to be dystopian (to say the least) and he seems to revel in the textures of decaying buildings, chipped paint, tortured wood, cracked ceramics, rough stone, broken concrete, grimy, soot covered surfaces and wrinkled skin. He indulges in this love of texture to such a degree that the ugly often becomes beautiful (perhaps unintentionally).

Bilal is also a film director. (There is a lot of intermingling and crossover in the European film and comics communities.)

There is no official Bilal site that I’m aware of, but there is a major Enki Bilal fan site (in French). Here is the Google translated version (rough but navigable).

The Albums section contains extracts from many of his comics albums, often many whole pages. There are also some large images in the section marked Les creations [ Divers et variées ]

Here is another site that has a great list of Bilal links, most of the sections have translations in various languages (links on the left).

A number of the comic albums he has worked on are available in English translations. If you want a taste, try “Bilal Library: Memories : Memories of Outer Space and Memories of Other Times” (images here and here), “The Town That Didn’t Exist” (images here), or “The Hunting Party” (images here). If you want to jump in the deep end, go for “The Nikopol Trilogy” (images here, here, here, here and shown above).

Note: The sites linked here contain nudity, sexually suggestive images and violence. Avoid them if you’re likely to be offended.

5 thoughts on “Enki Bilal

  1. Charley Parker Post author

    I didn’t know about this. Thanks. It’s apparently new.

    I’m not sure if this is officially connected with Bilal or not. Right now it only contains a forum, partly dedicated to Bilal info and partly to comics related topics in general. The site/forum is in French. Here is the Google translation, but keep in mind that you’re looking at a translation. If you post in English, you may not be understood.

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