Designed by Christian Rossi, Niala is an African that screenwriter Jean-Christophe Deveney, interviewed by AFP, describes as “the spirit of the forest, an imaginary being, a kind of goddess of the jungle”. She grew up among the bonobo monkeys and she meets white people, explorers, missionaries, anthropologists, clad in moral shackles or frustrations, which she awakens in sexuality.
“We find all the common places of adventure comics: the dense forest, the humid climate … And also, what is problematic, the animalization of blacks. That’s what revolts”, comments Elodie Malanda, post-doctoral fellow in literature at the University of the Saar, interviewed by AFP. “Today we cannot compare a black woman and a monkey without reactivating all the colonialist imagination that goes with it, without promoting the idea that Africans are less human than whites”, deplores this researcher.
The controversy over the book was launched on March 1 on Twitter. A reader, shocked by its presentation by Glénat editions, could not read it in full. “A good old fetishist, racist and misogynistic comic book, by two white guys”, she accuses, under the pseudonym of “Nephraïme”. She looks like “noire”, girl d‘”a white man living in Madagascar”. Another reader has launched an online petition calling on Glénat editions to cancel the publication. The publisher did not consider it at any time.
“The title will be on sale as planned in bookshops from Wednesday (…) We have modified the summary of the text intended for the general public, so that the second degree of the album appears this time in an obvious way”, said Glénat.
This presentation text was about a “homage to uninhibited adventure comics from the 1950s”. He now evokes “six caustic and parodic fables which mock prudishness as much as the stereotypes conveyed by colonialist comics of the 1950s”.
“I can understand that the first blurb on the album might have been shocking. I didn’t write it and it really awkwardly presents the content of the album,” said the screenwriter. But “There is clearly no will to be racist. There is not even a will to play with ambiguity around this (…) What is really caricatured are the white characters, these Westerners who arrive, who are ridiculed “, defends Jean-Christophe Deverney.
But it is more the caricature of Africa that the author criticizes a specialist in colonial literature, Dominique Ranaivoson, of the University of Lorraine. “The authors completely animate blacks, in sexuality and by cohabitation with animals which make ‘boom boom’. This is the traditional rhetoric of Senghor: the blacks are in the rhythm, the music, in a naturalness of nudity and of sexuality. And on all this there is zero reflection “, she believes.
“If there are amateurs for this porn, too bad for them. For me humor and distance don’t work. It’s a depiction of the worn-out jungle: all the animals sitting around in the clearing. , who came down from the vine and who are happy “, continues this academic. “I find it so poor that there is nothing to sign petitions.”
Same opinion with another academic, who wished to remain anonymous. “The editor was very badly inspired”, he says, but “There are laws in this country against racism. A court can decide.”
Source site www.francetvinfo.fr