The KOMIKAZEN Festival is an annual event, held to celebrate and promote Ravenna as the Reality Comics capital, and as the gateway to the international creative community. It's not a fair, it's a chance of discussion, creation and interchange.

 

The 11th Edition of KOMIKAZEN Festival will be held from the 8th to 12th of  October 2015.


Set up 11 years ago in the name of research and inquiry into the relationships between representation of the real and graphic literature, when the expression Graphic Novel had not yet come into common use, for the 2015 edition Komikazen Festival decided to investigate the way in which the economic and political crisis is represented through drawing. Special festival guests are a fine group of Greek journalists and artists plus the icon of American Graphic Journalism Ted Rall who, for the first time, will be holding a workshop, and the Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih.


2015 has been a tough year for the concept of “Europe”. It began with the dramatic attack on Charlie Hebdo which shook the European cultural world and was then marked by the difficult relationship between the Greek government and the Troika: also in this case the very concept of Europe was under siege. Who had to negotiate? What role can populations have? 


 

So the main aim of the 2015 edition of the Festival is to analyse how satirical and political artists and authors of Graphic Novels or reportage, have represented and understood this challenge. It is increasingly acknowledged that drawings rouse and arouse, intercept fears and give form to ghosts: the risk of leaving traces has always been a theme dear to the Komikazen Festival which over the years has been first in Europe to follow, from close up, the evolution of comics and satire in countries like Turkey, Algeria, Egypt and Lebanon.


 

The central exhibitions of the festival will be held at the Mirada Art Gallery and the Cantine di Palazzo Rava, while satellite events will be hosted at other interesting points of the city. Italian and international artists will be taking part, artists whose work has been centred in an aware, constant and farsighted manner on observation and critical elaboration of the socio-political contexts in question.


One of the special guests at Komikazen 2015 is Ted Rall, the American cartoonist, journalist, comics artist and illustrator. The political satire of Ted Rall, who contributes to more than 100 American publications, has been expressed in recent years through a great number of cartoons where he targets the paradoxes of American internal politics and foreign policy as well as the cultural standard clichés “of the average American”. He will be holding a workshop on Friday 9th October for a limited number of participants.


The Turkish cartoonist Cem Dinlenmiş, whose scathing stories deal with themes linked to civil rights and freedom of expression in a country where such freedom is often denied, be also one of the guest of this edition. Another outstanding personality is Khalid Albaih, a Sudanese cartoonist in exile in Qatar: his drawings, with their high political impact, have been on the front line since 2011, during the early phases of the Arab Spring protests. 


With Kara Sievewright we have the chance to get to know an artist and activist sui generis. Kara, who lives in a North Pacific archipelago claimed by Canada and inhabited by the indigenous Haida people, is also an activist for people’s rights and for protection of the environment and she tries to work in solidarity with the Haida and indigenous people. Kara will have a solo exhibition in Mirada's Gallery. And Komikazen will not only be hosting those who create stories but also those who study, analyse and plan them, such as Gary Embury, illustrator and lecturer at the West of England University, who is also editor of the magazine reportager.org, completely dedicated to drawn reportage, and Augusto Paim, a Brazilian researcher and artist based in Germany.


But the focus of Komikazen 2015 will be the Greek crisis represented by drawn stories, in particular those published in the daily Efimerida Ton Syntakton. For 55 weeks in the Saturday supplement there was a story by a different artist on the same theme “The Day of the Crisis” which in Greek also sounds like “The Day of Judgement”. The stories will be shown in a group exhibition at Palazzo Ravaioli, "The Line of the Crisis”, and there will also be a complete catalogue translated into Italian: a sociological analysis in sequence of what it means to live under the regime of uncertainty. Over and above the guarantee of extremely urgent social policies, the victims of the Greek crisis also include the plurality of means of information. From the sudden closure of the state TV to that of one of the most important and historic dailies Eleftherotipia, the freedom of the press and the possibility of analysis and representation have been considerably reduced in recent years. From the ground zero of spaces of opinion certain experiences of cooperative construction have arisen such as, precisely, I Efimerida Ton Syntakton, a daily financed by journalists. The state network has been brought back, but the situation is still fragile. And the artists? They weren’t just hanging around. A new generation, but not forgetting their forerunners, had to redesign their way of working and choose greater engagement in relation to news. The work of mapping and analysis of what has been produced in recent years, from Graphic Novels that investigate the country’s 20th century history such as the civil war or the downfall of Asia Minor to the memorandum of artists, the 2015 edition will present for the first time a vast and documented panorama of the ninth art in Greec


For these reasons the guests of honour at the 11th edition of the Komikazen Festival will be Greek artists and journalists including comics artist Soloup and the cartoonist Ghiannis Ioannou, as well as Ghiannis Michailidis and Ghiannis Koukoulas, the latter a journalist with Efimerida Ton Syntakton who handles the comics supplement.


A welcome back also to Carlos Latuff, presented for the first time at the 2012 Komikazen. Together with international guests there will also be various Italian researchers and artists including Laura Silvia Battaglia, Marta Gerardi, Lucia Biagi, Alessia Di Giovanni, Nicola Gobbi, Marco Gastoni, Carlo Gubitosa, Matteo Stefanelli and Andrea Plazzi


But Komikazen is not just a political and social inquiry: there is also the section “Yoga and Comics” as well as “Artists in Beauty” where you can follow the artists as they work in city monuments. 


What KOMIKAZEN is

From the pilot edition of 2005, the Komikazen International Festival of Reality Comics has reached its 11th edition, and many things have changed in the meantime. In particular the role and importance that reality comics, understood not only as a genre of illustrated literature but also as an instrument of journalistic reporting, have taken on with critics and scholars and the public at large. In this growth of attention and awareness Komikazen has played a significant part at national and international level, since it is an experience unique of its kind. The very expression “reality comic”, which we coined in 2005 to describe what we intended to present, has become general usage not only for sector experts but also for journalists and the aware public.


The memorialist, historical and reportage tendency has always been with us and has always been innate in many of the great masters of sequential art. But it is especially in the last decade that it has captured the attention of the general public, above all through artists like Marjane Satrapi and Joe Sacco, to name two of the best known, and has raised comics to the level of the so-called “major arts”.


Komikazen – with its plurality of actions concentrated however on a single aim (promotion and production of the ninth art) – is now a structured and ongoing presence on the Emilia-Romagna cultural calendar, an event of international importance thanks to a network of relationships with international festivals that has been built up over the years.