Bubbles Without Borders

Canada participates in the Algiers International Comic Strip Festival

A group of children at one of the exhibits. (Photo via Words without Borders.)

Can comics be a vector for a culture of peace? It’s a big question for any artist.

In an artistic medium with boundless potential, there is no reason to shy from the big questions. At the fourth annual International Comics Festival of Algiers (Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Alger, FIBDA), artists from all over the world gathered to celebrate achievements and undertake the challenge of drawing peace. 

“Teen and adult comics are crammed with bloody acts; those dealing with peace are, however, rare. But peace is not only built by imagining perfect worlds,” the festival asserts. “It is maybe also important to show the other side of the mirror, without leniency, denouncing the horror.”

Comic book artists and cartoonists flocked to Algiers from thirty-seven different countries around the world – including Canada. With a program of exhibitions, panel discussions, workshops, and film screenings, it was a very busy four days. Young attendees crowded for the chance at getting a favourite artist’s autograph, and the festival offered an opportunity not only for fans to interact directly with comics professionals, but also a chance for the artists to connect with their international colleagues and contemporaries.

Canada was represented by the artist Guy Badeaux, better known as "Bado", cartoonist for the French daily Le Droit. Bado presented its latest designs at the international exhibition of the festival, inspired by his book, Without drawings of the Prophet. He also presented to the public collections of his old drawings collected in the books Everything Changed on September 11 and Bado in 2004 and Beyond. His participation has allowed the Algerian public to discover the cartoon humour of a Canadian newspaper. This activity has highlighted the human rights, especially freedom of speech, issues that were discussed during the festival.

The Ambassador of Canada in Algiers, Geneviève des Rivières, celebrated the closing of the event accompanied the Algerian Minister of Culture, Mrs. Khalida Toumi. The closing ceremony highlighted the fresh and inspiring ingenuity of comics from the continent of Africa.

Fans and artists alike left the festival invigorated by the possibilities opened through the world of comics, both for those who read and those who create.