Senate Comics Awards 2022: Berlin Picture Worlds – Cartoons – Culture

A reclusive artist encourages a career criminal to confront his painful memories. A hot-tempered activist, a conservative villager and a monster collide in a modern fairy tale. After immigrating to Germany, an Indian-Pakistani couple is having a hard time balancing integration and preserving their culture.

These and other stories are told by the winners of this year’s comic relief grant from the Berlin Senate, Germany’s highest funding program for this art form with a total of €63,000.

As of Saturday, Everett S.’s work can be viewed. Glenn, Annual Grant recipient, and the other four shorter grant recipients, Sarnath Banerjee, Gregor Dachober, Julia Petling and Kai Pfeiffer, are at the Communications Museum in Berlin.

The exhibition, which runs until the end of October (Saturday/Sunday 10am-6pm, Mon closed, Tue 9am-12pm, Wed-Fri 9am-5pm) is sponsored by the German Comedy Association, on its initiative back scholarships awarded since year 2017.

The Berlin Independent ComicInvasion will take place for the 12th time on Saturday and Sunday at the same venue. There are readings, panel discussions, book presentations, book signings, and an “artist’s alley” featuring dozens of artists and publishers. More on this here.

Below, we present the five projects funded by the Senate Department of Culture. The five artists will also talk about this at a panel on Saturday at 12 noon at Comicinvasion.

Everett S. Glenn: “The Nix: A Kind of Memoir”

Artist Everett S. for his comedy project “The Nix: A Sort Of Memoir” was awarded a twelve-month work grant from the Senate in the amount of €24,000.

Another page from The Nix: a kind of memoir.Photo: Everett S. Glenn

The main characters of his comic are the fictional artist Wolfgang Eberhart and the killer ES Grimm. The latter is not only a criminal, but also an artist, and Aberhart encouraged us to “accept the chaos of life, unearth its painful memories and accept its experiences,” as Glenn explains the plot. “The Nix: A Sort Of Memoir” is a “pseudo-autobiographical story for mature readers.”

Painting from The Nix: A Sort Of Memoir.Photo: Everett S. Glenn

Externally, ES Grimm bears a certain resemblance to the artist, who introduced the character in 2020 in his comedy series “Unsmooth”, which takes a satirical and ironic look at the art world. However, the character is still called ES Glenn, and after several failures as an animator, he ends up on the wrong path.

Glenn’s photographs clearly refer to the Franco-Belgian comic tradition: he works with semi-realistic graphics in a clearly defined retro look reminiscent of the cartoonist Tintin Hergé’s Ligne Claire. The coloring is bright, almost flat, and some scenes look almost surreal.

Sarnath Banerjee: Stories of Immigration and Integration

Sarnath Banerjee, born in Calcutta in 1972, is an Indian cartoonist, illustrator and publisher who has been living in Berlin with his family for several years. In 2004 he released The Corridor, which is considered one of the first Indian graphic novels and combines elements of autobiography with a fictional story.

A Strange Homeland: A Scene from Revelation by Sarnath Banerjee.Photo: Sarnath Banerjee

He is awarded one of the three months, €8,000 each, to work on an episodic graphic narrative intended to convey stories of immigration and integration using several characters, as he summarizes: “The story begins with Priego—a wandering narrator and an untrustworthy narrator. As a restless explorer of habit, he is Like a detective wandering around Berlin without solving a case.”

City Life: Another Scene in Berlin by Sarnath Banerjee.Photo: Sarnath Banerjee

At the same time, the story of the dissolution of the Indo-Pakistani marriage must be told: “The relationship that has withstood the toxic nationalism of two hostile states ends in a foreign country. After three wars, endless bureaucracy and forced emigration to Germany. From a very specific existence, steeped in novelty, to A life with immigrants and the need to integrate. The couple struggle to survive in an identity-driven ecosystem and confront a cultural crisis of not belonging.”

When it comes to painting, Banerjee works in a realistic, sometimes sketchy style, with images and text placed side by side. Some of the sequences are black and white, others subtly coloured.

Gregor Dachober: “The King”

Gregor Daschauber works as an animated film director, graphic artist and illustrator. He won a grant to work on a comic adaptation of King John Berger’s novel, in which a dog tells the life of a group of marginalized people in a scrap yard.

City of Shadows: A Page from “The King” by Gregor Dachober.Photo: Gregor Dachober

Dachober sums up his project: “My interpretation moves the procedure to Berlin and refers to the inhabitants of the former wasteland of Kreuzberg.” “In 2012, a village of huts of up to 200 inhabitants was created, which was nicknamed the “Kreuzberg favela” and was cleared after a fire in 2014. My personal impressions and plans from this time combine with the introduction to the novel. At that time, I became The stock exchange is a symbol of protest against the increase in displacement in the city.”

Another page from King.Photo: Gregor Dachober

His comic book asks the basic question: Who owns the city? Another side of the story is homelessness in old age: “It’s not about restoring dignity to the homeless, because I don’t think that is possible. It’s about telling an honest story about people so that we can recognize their dignity again.”

Dashuber images, which are mostly nocturnal, have a very dreary appearance due to the harsh punch and liberal use of black with occasional color splashes. It combines semi-realistic figure graphics with expressive backgrounds that are only hinted at so often. In addition to expressive images of the main human characters, the exhibition also shows some semi-realistic and nightmarish scenes with a pack of dogs pouncing on a group of police officers.

Julia Butling: “Being Monsters”

Illustrator and comedian Julia Butling has received another four-month grant to work on her online comic ‘Being Monsters’. It’s, as she writes, “a contemporary adult fairy tale, drama, and detective story. It’s also a modern adaptation of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, which centers around a hot-tempered activist, conservative society, and of course a monster.”

The Modern Fairy Tale: Double Pages from “Being Monsters” by Julia Butling.Photo: Julia Butling

“Being Monsters” is a multi-year web comic and will be out from October 2021. So far, two chapters can be read there.

Cover of Being Monsters.Photo: Julia Butling

The main human characters in Being Monsters are drawn in a clean cartoon style. By contrast, the monsters that appear gradually are kept in a streak of more brutal expression. Sophisticated backdrops also catch the eye: opulent and fairy-tale landscapes alternate with cityscapes, and gorgeous and realistic lanes seamlessly merge.

Kay Pfeiffer: “Donner corps à la ville – giving shape to the city”

Illustrator Kai Pfeiffer should be known to comic readers through his many publications, including the “If You Like More” comic created with Belgian Dominique Goblet and the “Der Flaneur” series created with Tim Dinter.

A sequence from Kai Pfeiffer’s book project “Maisons hantées”, currently in progress.Photo: Kai Pfeiffer

This year he received €15,000 six-month residency in the artist’s Senate apartment at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris 2022/2023.

A tape by Kai Pfeiffer from theatrical report on the occasion of the Berlin Theater 2019Photo: Cape Pfeiffer

Stylistically, Kai Pfeiffer’s work is characterized by great diversity and a love of experimentation, as the above example from his long-term project “Maisons hantées” shows that he wants to continue in June during his stay in Toulouse and then in Paris.

There he wants to follow up on a comic-documentary project specific to the site, which he describes as: “Donner corps à la ville – gives shape to the city, consciously or unwillingly. For a comedy-documentary report, I want to follow up on two notable encounters: with a photographer and a homeless activist, and with a professional performance artist.” and BDSM. An intertwined blend of parallel worlds—people as playthings of urban solidity; and as citizens of Blazer, confident players with subtle experiences of domination and surrender.”

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