International Comic Arts Conference – Program


International Comic Arts Conference – Program

Montreal, October 4th 2021 – The Montreal Comic Arts Festival (MCAF) and the McGill Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal (CIRM) are pleased to invite you to the Shaking the Foundations Conference in Montreal, from October 28 to 30, 2021 in the auditorium of BAnQ, Montreal.

In addition to highlighting the MCAF’s 10th anniversary, this conference will bring together researchers interested in the comic arts and their creators for discussions and presentations of research and field work on the theme of Shaking the Foundations. Mario Beaulac, professor in comic arts at the École multidisciplinaire de l’image at Université du Québec en Outaouais, will oversee the event as scientific director.

Shaking the Foundations

Metropolis, Gotham City, New York, Berlin, Brussels, even Montreal—be they real or dreamlike, dark citadels or beacons of light, urban landscapes often find their way into the creative universes of comic creators. Through the trials of their protagonists and main characters, the city and its foundations are repeatedly abused, redesigned, and reimagined. Buildings are shattered or used as weapons by superheroes, locked in epic battles with their adversaries in the city. Protagonists commute through the city of the future, whether utopian or dystopian, where the artist has taken the opportunity to draw both the boundaries of the expected city and the attention of critics and readers to urban design and its limits. Other creators may subvert the medium’s conventions or use architectural and urban metaphors to deconstruct their stories. With each stroke of their pen, comic artists shake the foundations of the real and imaginary city, the ways it is represented, and the urban issues it faces.

Which formal or thematic devices do comic artists use to shake these foundations? Proposals may address one or more of the following themes:

Shaking the foundations…of the city: 

The foundations of the city are disrupted in many ways in comics. Its architecture may be shattered, reduced to dust: fights between superheroes and their opponents, war situations, tales about the creation or dismantling of neighbourhoods, etc. The founding principles of architecture or urban planning may also be reinvented by utopian or dystopian visions of the city of the future or imagined urban milieus.

Shaking the foundations…of society : 

It is also possible for comic artists to question preconceptions of urban societies. By illustrating and addressing some of the concerns experienced in urban centres, comic artists highlight cultural, religious, social, economic, and other disturbances, and thus an established social order that may be criticised at leisure. Consider the works of Guy Delisle (Shenzhen, Pyongyang), Joe Sacco (Palestine, Safe Area Goražde) or Chantal Montellier (Wonder City, Tchernobyl mon amour).

Shaking the foundations…of the comic arts : 

Finally, creators shake the foundations of the comic arts, namely by using urban or architectural metaphors in order to question their creative processes and storytelling, as does Chris Ware in his Building Stories or as François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters also endeavor in their Les Cités obscures.


Out of the thirty or so paper proposals received, the Scientific Committee of the conference chose eleven to be presented in four sessions from October 28 to 29 in BAnQ auditorium. Participation is free upon registration and the vaccination passport will be requested to be admitted. All the details can be found on the conference website.

Opening conference
Cartoonist Jean-Paul Eid is the guest of honor at the opening conference. Having developed several experimental methods of exploded narration which seek to renew the relationship between the comic strip and the reader, Jean-Paul Eid will know how to talk to us about the role that the 9th art can take in the representation of what surrounds us.

Commented tour
Because there is nothing like a walk around town to realize the changes that are taking place there.
The Montreal Comic Festival (MCAF) and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Montreal Studies (CIRM) invite Montrealers to (re) discover the Centre-Sud through a guided tour through the heart of its streets, to wonder about its identity and to identify some of the factors that have shaken this neighborhood over the past decades. In the company of actors from the community and academics circles, this tour will be led by Richard Shearmur (CIRM / McGill) with the participation of cartoonist Richard Suicide, author of Chroniques du Centre-Sud. This course is part of the Shaking the Foundations Conference and the series of CIRM Montréal : la cité des cités.

Detailed Programming

Thursday October 28

2:15 pm • Welcome Speech

2:30 pm – 3:30 • Comics & Museums

➤ Comics and/as Museums: Historical Representation at the Intersection of Exhibition Practice and Graphic Narrative
By Elizabeth “Biz” Nijdam
Faire trembler les fondations de l’institution muséale : quand la bande dessinée se joue du musée
Par Zoé Vangindertael

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm • Opening Conference with Jean-Paul Eid

Friday October 29

10:30 am – 12 pm • Architecture in Comics 

➤ Drawing Chicago: Architecture and Urban Networks in Chris Ware’s Graphic City
By Frederik Køhlert
L’espace architectural et la cartographie au service des repères de lecture dans la bande dessinée numérique non linéaire
Par Margarita Molina Fernández
La ville impossible : les cités malléables de Michael Deforge
Par Émile Dupré

2 pm – 3:30 pm • Subversion, Feminism & Comics

Le fanzine ou la subversion-transformation des codes éditoriaux de la bande dessinée québécoise
Par Dolly Tawil, Katia Huber et Marie-Ève Plamondon
L’Anthropologie féministe des sociétés urbaines en bande dessinée : croisements entre le récit autobiographique, l’ethnographie et le dessin
Par Marie-Ève Carrier-Moisan
Écritures du réel et écoféminisme : déconstruction formelle de normes genrées chez Julie Delporte et Catherine Ocelot
Par Virginie Fournier

4:30 pm – 6:30 pm • Commented Tour with Richard Suicide

Saturday October 30

10:30 am – 12 pm • Dystopian Cities in Comics 

Passage interdit – Le Montréal morcelé d’Hiver nucléaire
Par Thara Charland
➤ “Neo-Tokyo is About to Explode” – Akira and the Cyberpunk Metropolis
By Matthew Poulter
Apocalypse et dystopie nucléaire : fonctions narratives des représentations atomiques dans les mangas cyberpunk
Par Alexandre Taalba

12 pm • Closing remarks

Scientific Committee

In order to choose from among the proposals for papers received, we assembled a scientific committee made up of the following specialists:

Scientific Director :

Mario Beaulac, Professor, École multidisciplinaire de l’image, Université du Québec en Outaouais

Members of the Scientific Committee :

Johanne Desrochers, General Director, MCAF
Dominique Gazo, Director of Montreal Public Libraries, City of Montreal
Anna Giaufret, Associate Professor, Department of Modern and French Languages and Cultures, University of Genova
Marc-André Goulet,  Head of department, Arts and Literature, Grande Bibliothèque (BanQ) 
Dominic Hardy, Professor, Department of Art History, Université du Québec à Montréal
Nik Luka, Co-Director, CIRM; Associate Professor, School of Urban Planning and Peter Guo-Hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University
François Vigneault, Cartoonist

About the Organizing Partners

The Montreal Comic Arts Festival

Over the last 10 years, MCAF has served as a space for artists and their audiences to meet and exchange ideas. The MCAF’s yearly springtime event serves to promote Québécois and Canadian comic arts on the local and international levels, while contributing to their development and dissemination of knowledge on comics. Recently, MCAF has also stimulated and supported local comic artists thanks to the Presses du FBDM | MCAF Press.

Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal

Bringing together 74 researchers from over 15 universities in Montreal, Canada, and abroad, CIRM is at the forefront of interdisciplinary research on Montreal. The centre also contributes to the conception, coordination, and dissemination of research-action projects created in tandem with social, economic, cultural, community, and municipal actors in the city

Organizing Committee

Johanne Desrochers, General Director, MCAF
Audray Fontaine, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator, CIRM
Mario Beaulac, Professor, École multidisciplinaire de l’image, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Louise Guillemette-Labory, Chair of the Board, MCAF
Virginie Mont-Reynaud, Programme and Logistics Coordinator, MCAF

The MCAF would like to thank its partners for their precious collaboration:
Canada Council for the Arts, Montreal Arts Council, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Montreal Studies (CIRM), Consulate General of France in Quebec, Caisse de la Culture Desjardins
Thank you also to our service partners Multidisciplinary School of Image UQO, Acfas, BAnQ, Armada Film

Thanks to Denis Rodier for his magnificent illustration for the conference’s poster.
And finally thank you to the MCAF volunteer team, without whom the Festival simply couldn’t happen.

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Biographical Notes

Jean-Paul Eid

Working in the field of comics since 1985, Jean-Paul Eid became known through Les aventures de Jérôme Bigras, a surreal suburbanite flanked by Rex, his faithful lawn mower. Pages to be read by transparency, interactive scenarios, mirror pages … Eid has fun deconstructing the very language of comics. Two collections of these adventures, published by Éditions Logiques, were reissued in 2008 at La Pastèque in an anthology with the evocative title, Des tondeuses et des hommes. Bigras reappears in a final adventure, Le fond du trou (Grand Prix de la Ville de Québec and Special Jury Award Bédélys 2012), a perforated album whose hole allows the characters to physically cross the story as one travels through time.

In the meantime, Eid published in 1999 with the playwright Claude Paiement, the science-fiction diptych Le Naufragé de Memoria (Bédéïs Causa 2000 and 2004 and the Bédélys Québec 2004 Award) reissued in a single volume under the title Memoria at La Pastèque in 2020. The tandem did it again in 2016 with La femme aux cartes postales, an ambitious graphic novel that nostalgically evokes the era of Montreal jazz clubs in the 1950s (ACBD award for best Quebec comic book and Grand Prix de la Ville de Quebec 2017).

In 2021, The Little Astronaut is released, his most personal work that tenderly and kindly recounts the story of Tom, a little boy born with cerebral palsy.

Jean-Paul Eid also has a career as an illustrator. Since 2016, he has been a comic chronicler on the show Plus on est de fous plus on lit.

Richard Suicide

Born Beaulieu in 1961, Richard Suicide established himself during the 1990s as one of the major figures of Quebec underground comics – alongside authors such as Julie Doucet, Henriette Valium, Simon Bossé and Siris. In addition to producing strips for the weekly Ici as well as numerous illustrations for the Montreal Mirror, he has published a series of self-published fanzines and contributed to numerous collectives, including Comix 2000 at L’Association as well as Les Démons du hockey at Glénat Québec.

His book My Life as a Foot (Conundrum Press) was published in 2007. Chroniques du Centre-Sud is his second book in French, seventeen years after Gonades cosmiques.

Further Information

MCAF Contact
Johanne Desrochers
General Direction

Press Agent Contact
Lisa Moreau