Felipe Muhr. Drawing impersonations. Comics on the outside

Comics on the outside, 2021
Comics on the outside, 2021
  • Date

    04/06/2021 - 14:00 14:30
  • Location

    Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussel, BE

This international conference aims at seizing this complex and hard-to-translate notion of the corpus hors-champ (Menu 2011), locating an ‘outside’ of comics. This notion can facilitate the convergence of various research interests to bring forward objects for scrutiny that were previously held at the margins of comics studies. The ‘outside’ invites us to expand our usual corpora to a wider range of objects, works, and practices positioned at the limits and margins of what has been established as ‘field.’ Rather than trying in vain to redefine the parameters of the field, this symposium invites a broad and changing understanding of the ‘field’, where its ‘inside’ (champ) and ‘outside’ (hors-champ) are caught in a dynamic tension. For all its spatial connotations, the ‘field’ appears as a moving target: a work, a practice, an object can slide from center to periphery and vice versa. The chosen focus and approach, together with the methods applied for analysis, fully participate in the construction of this corpus hors-champ.

Drawing Impersonations: Observations on the original work of Jorge Christie Mouat by Felipe Muhr

This paper describes the process behind an artistic research on the work of Chilean cartoonist Jorge Christie Mouat (1914-1954). As part of the methodology, this paper examines in the magazine Álbum Mickey, a weekly publication mostly composed of Christie's drawings and printed between 1937 and 1938 in Santiago de Chile.

Early in his brief but prolific career, Christie used appropriation extensively through a singular creative voice, which informed later on his work as an illustrator and accomplished comic artist, including the first comic strip made in Chile. Jorge Christie's contributions in Álbum Mickey were almost entirely based on licensed creations: Mickey, Donald, Popeye, the Big Bad Wolf, Felix the Cat and other popular figures of children's entertainment were featured in original strips, puzzles, cut-outs and illustrations. By ignoring (or perhaps disregarding) strict copyright rules, Christie signed every borrowed character in Álbum Mickey under his own name, installing a truly original narrative vision of his own in foreign lines and bodies, renegotiated for a Chilean audience. In a gesture infeasible for creative factories such as Disney, Christie’s work and signature was only possible in a place far from mass-cultural production centers. In Chile, established publishers printed material defined, swiped from and largely overlooked by the official sources.

I will present my own visual research on the crime story "Mickey vs. Ratón Pérez", where Christie reimagines a traditional Ibero-American character as a villain set to avenge Mickey Mouse's popularity, unfolding a kidnapping including pirates, casinos, spies, cowboys and revolution. Through my own visual paraphrasings on Jorge Christie’s work, this research presents Álbum Mickey as a unique cultural hybrid and "Mickey vs. Ratón Pérez" as its most notorious example, shining light on the work of an elusive pioneer of Latin-american comics and also opening the discussion on appropriation and plagiarism as a historic and contemporary creative practice.