Cambodian/French Artist Sera returns to Cambodia for an exhibition of his new book, and some workshops for young artists.

The Exposition is open to the public from April 7th.
Thursday April 21st (6pm) the artist will present the exhibition to the public, followed by a Café Littéraire / Rencontre and a dedication of his new book, 'Water and Earth' at Carnets d'Asie. More details at link below.

April Sera Exposition

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Workshops in PP


If you read this page regularly (and you should) you’d know that Khmer-French comic artist Séra has arrived in Cambodia, to premiere his new book, conduct workshops, and reconnect with his former home.

Piseth and I have been nudging artists from October 2005’s exhibition to come to the Café Litteraire on the 21st, as well as help locate some students who are interested in visual storytelling.
We 'sat in' on his first workshop yesterday. It was a good structural underpinning of the basics of comics: where did the modern day form begin? Where does the name come from? What are vernacular comics in
France and Cambodia?
After showing some examples of various old and current forms, we had a surprise in the showing of a short film, Chris Marker’s La Jetee. Comprised almost entirely of static images, it’s a good reminder that visual language is all about assembling a succession of images. Each image, each panel is like the blink of an eye and we interpret the flow.

After the workshop I’m a bit tired, like you feel when suddenly leaving a cinema after a good film. I guess I have. It’s also quite a good feeling to be talking about comics, I don’t get to talk about theory much here.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Lesson two

we start from the ground up and put pen to paper. I often use marker pens, and haven’t touched a brush or nib pen in years. Séra puts us to the test. Can we draw a simple, straight line or cross-hatch with professional tools? We’re given rulers, erasers, India ink, all the necessities. (The coffee is a nice touch.) We swap pens and brushes and draw lines, cross hatch and stipple. He carefully evaluates the pages afterwards.

Beyond this, there’s more discussion of form and content. (We’ve been joined by some more students, back from Khmer New Year. He asks us to come up with a single image for our next class, leading us to illustrate one day in Phnom Penh.

Tomorrow: Phnom Penh premiere of the new book!
Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lesson 3(and a quick writeup because I need to do some more visual reference).

With our simple sketches in hand, Séra takes a look and critiques them for both form and content.

- One interesting observation: idealism can be dangerous - it was a weapon of both the KR and fascist governments. If we incorporate idealism into our works, what is it in the service of? What is our intent? Is it just a lazy shortcut?

Quote for the day: (as best as I can translate) "The first job of an illustrator is always to look."
We discuss visual techniques for memory and nostalgia: Wong Kar Wei uses a blue tint for his 'Days of Being Wild', while his Chung King Express uses a blue tint to indicate night time, neon, cities. 'CKE' also has a good setup and example of subjective vision.

Student Chan Nawath (art teacher from Mit Samlanh) takes great interest in this as well as the use of color in depicting the past in 'Impasse et Rouge and 'Water and Earth'. He's a big fan of Bilal, I must bring in my copy of 'Immortel'.

We move on to Katsuhiro Otomo's 'Memories', a masterful work. Discussion continues on depicting history - alternative history, (i.e.) 'Cannon Fodder' and Séra notes a citation in his own work of Jaques Tardi, another classic artist who weaves his narrative around historical frameworks.

(I doubt that a Anglophone class would have such an emphasis on cinema, which I don't mind at all. It raises another question for me: why is there such an Anglophone/Francophone comics divide?)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cafe Litteraire -

A walk through the exposition, lots of signing, and a half hour discussion of the book at Cafe CCF. I also borrowed the CCF video camera to shoot some video, it's good to have a record of these things.

Séra did detailed drawings for each person who bought a book, a great way to do a signing.

Pictures and more details will follow, alas no immediate digital photos!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Comics Workshop, Lesson 4:

April 26th
Devoted to critiques. My strip involves cyclos, cars, streets and several prominent buildings.
Sera suggests I cut the content down a bit, so it’s not an impossible task. Good call, less work!

It's a challenge to show daily life here - I want to include as many details as possible, but I'm not sure if my technical skills are good enough. I'm completely self-trained.

We spend much of the session redrawing based on his recommendations. We also get another look at La Jetée as we draw.

Some of the new students have some Image Comics from USA, complete with plastic cover to keep it safe from harm. (If they were mine, I would do them harm.) Ugh, muscles and guns. There's an entire library of bande dessinee upstairs, why don't they look at that?

Bora’s disappeared, and Santapheap keeps protesting ‘Ot ceh ku roop!’ (I can’t draw.)

Cyclos are pretty hard to draw. I’m going to have to get some more reference.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Lesson 5 Thursday April 27th

Photo referencing, tracing and redrawing get my comic in shape. The office power is out so my lightbox (well, the window I’m tracing on) becomes a sweatbox.

Séra is OK with the new simplified content and suggests some more small revisions to make it more fully realized. Nhek Sokhaleap, an illustrator from SIPAR is doing well with a wordless strip. Santapheap is doing computer comics, tres simple, almost like fumetti. Chan Nawath (Friends) is full of questions and anxious to read more foreign comics.

Other students also arrive late, with their two penciled pages for critique. Now that Khmer New Year is over we are finally getting some more participants, some from the Wat Phnom art school.

I want to redraw my last two panels. I also need some more background details, but first I’ll handle the difficult stuff with the cyclo.

Next up: inking with a nib pen. If you want to run with the professionals, I’d better use professional tools... results to follow! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

[Sera Everywhere:]

In addition to his teaching, we find our teacher at Java Gallery/Cafe and also CCF Siem Reap.

Será à Java
Presentation by Será followed by Q&A at Java Café, Wednesday May 4, 6:30pm.
Java Café welcomes Será, a Franco-Khmer comic artist whose recently published book L'Eau et la Terre (Water and Earth) is being exhibited at the French Cultural Center (in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap). L'Eau et la Terre recounts the stories of individuals' experience during the Khmer Rouge occupation of Phnom Penh. As Será's second book on this topic he is able to address elements he was not able to previously.

Sera au Siem Reap

Le Centre culturel français et la librairie "Carnets d'Asie" de Siem Reap vous invitent venir renconter l'artiste franco-cambodgien Séra, à l?occasion de la présentation de son dernier album de bande dessinée L'Eau et la terre publié par les éditions Delcourt...
Le jeudi 5 mai à 19 h : Vernissage de l?exposition ?Séra: retour au Cambodge? (Salle d?exposition du C.C.F)
Le jeudi 5 mai à 20 h et le vendredi 6 mai à 18h: Rencontre/dédicaces à la libaririe Carnets d'Asie.
Centre culturel français de Siem Reap
Renseignements: Claire Ameur, responsable de l'annexe du C.C.F de Siem Reap - 012.949.709

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Lesson 6 May 3, 2005

I am losing track of time. We watch Wong Kar Wei's 'Chung King Express' and ink like crazy. Many students are hurrying to finish their strips. Struggling with brush and nib pen. More art soon!
Tuesday, May 03, 2005

“a suivre” (Early May)

4:30 PM, Café Centre Culturel Francais: it’s time to see the results of the workshop !

I arrive, one of the students arrives, but the others take a little prodding. Piseth gives me some help once again. Some are not finished with their art and I call a few on the list: come! You might get a surprise!

Séra is back from the exhibition launch in Siem Reap, and seems to be in a good mood as he views the growing number of pages placed on the table for judging. The students don’t know many of the foreigners who are there: Guy Issanjou, the Director of CCF, Pierre Andryc, the Mediatheque’s director, Jean-Jacques Donard of VALEASE, a project to promote reading and writing in Southeast Asia, and Oliver Jeandel of Carnets d’Asie, the CCF bookshop.

Lim Santapheap has done quite an assemblage of simple and funny strips, in French and Khmer. While she is not a trained artist, she has editing skills and knows some important basics for scenario writing. I also like the style of Nhek Sophaleap and Chan Nawath, as well as Tek Tevin. Many of the students are quite skilled at design though employing it for comics is a little new for them.

After the last students have trickled in, each is invited to explain their comic.
After some discussion and finally a conclusion is reached: Nhek Sophaleap’s watercolour comic is good enough to earn him a trip to Angouleme comics festival in France, courtesy of the assembled organizations. (We have to explain to him what ‘Angouleme’ is. Time for him to begin studying French!) And they will also seek to publish the class results, which will be announced by CCF in the near future. There will also be a small exhibition of the artwork at Café CCF.

Small ‘diplomas’ have been printed by CCF which are given to each class member.
The class gathers around Séra as he critiques each page in detail. Some students have just finished their pages. I wish I had a group photo of the assembled creators but it will have to wait until the next class!

After the announcement some refreshments are brought out and we discuss the class. Many students would like to discuss doing more comics, and Santepheap and I remind them of the upcoming meeting of the Book Sector Federation. As dinner time approaches we take our leave.
The class may be over, but the story does not end here! - “a suivre” – to be continued!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

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