My name is Michelle Bumatay and I am an Assistant Professor of French specializing in sub-Saharan African and diasporic literature and cultural production. My research focuses on bandes dessinées (French-language graphic novels known in French as BD) by cartoonists from Africa and Europe and investigates the verbal-visual strategies at work in such bandes dessinées. Accordingly, this blog is primarily dedicated to the review of bandes dessinées—both old and new— so as to participate in larger discussions of such texts and in hopes of bringing these texts to a larger audience.


Selected Publications, Presentations, & Programs

“BD Reportage or Exotic Travel Journal? L’Afrique de papa and the Intermedial Gaze.” in Intermediality in French-Language Comics & Graphic Novels, edited by Jan Baetens, Hugo Frey, and Fabrice Leroy. University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2022, 101-125. (expanded version of earlier article)

Petite histoire des colonies françaises: Little Comics Speak Volumes.” Postcolonial Realms of Memory: Sites and Symbols in the Modern Francosphere Conference, Winthrop-King Institute of Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, October 2021.

Comics as Commemoration? The tirailleurs sénégalais and World War I.” Francosphères vol. 10 no. 1 (2021) 63-77.

“Picturing the (Silent) History of Immigration in France and in French Bandes Dessinées,” in Immigrants and Comics: Graphic Spaces of Remembrance, Transaction, and Mimesis, ed. Nhora Serrano, Routledge, 2021, 149-161.

Aldama, Frederick Luis. “Michelle Bumatay Talks: Transnational African Comics & Global Questions of Black Identity!,” YouTube Uploaded by Frederick Luis Aldama 7 Oct. 2020.

“Review of The Performance of Listening in Postcolonial Francophone Culture by Jennifer Solheim,” in Contemporary French Civilization vol. 45 no. 2 (2020) 258-260.

BD reportage or Exotic Travel Journal?: L’Afrique de papa and the Intermedial Gaze,” in Études francophones. vol. 32, 2020. 13-35.

African Bande Dessinée Festivals & Competitions: Participation, Patronage, and Performance,” in Research in African Literatures. vol. 50, no. 2 (2019) 35-48.

Invited Round Table Organizer, “Decolonising the Arts: Museums & Restitution,” at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, Jan. 25, 2019.

Bumatay, Michelle, and Joseph L. Underwood. “Focus: Ibrahima Dieye.” The View From Here: Contemporary Perspectives From Senegal, edited by Joseph L. Underwood, Joseph L. Underwood and the Kent State School of Art Collection & Galleries, 2018, 58-60.

“Focus: Camara Guèye.” The View From Here: Contemporary Perspectives From Senegal, edited by Joseph L. Underwood, Joseph L. Underwood and the Kent State School of Art Collection & Galleries, 2018, 49-53.

Review of La fabrique des classiques africains: Écrivains d’Afrique subsaharienne francophone (1960-2012) by Claire Ducournau,” H-Franc Review. vol. 18, no. 94 (2018).

Sub-Saharan African Francophone Comics,” encyclopedia entry for The Planetary Republic of Comics, ed. Frederick Luis Aldama (web, 2018).

Notre histoire and Madame Livingstone: Travels in Time,” in Contemporary French Civilization vol. 42, no.2 (2017) 141-169.

Review: The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, in Cinema Journal vol. 56, no. 2 (2017) 155-160.

2017 Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) Mellon Faculty Fellows Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, Jan. 27-28, 2017.

Round Table Discussion on the Burkini Ban in France, Beloit College, (Beloit, September 2016).

Plural Pathways, Plural Identities: Jean Phillipe Stassen’s “Les Visiteurs de Gibralter,” in Postcolonial Comics: Texts, Events, Identities. Benita Meta and Pia Mukherji, eds. Routledge, 2015, 29-43.

Postcolonial Interjections: Jean-Philippe Stassen Illustrates Heart of Darkness and We Killed Mangy-Dog,” in Alternative Francophone Vol. 1, no.8 (2015) 18-36.

“Graphic Novels and Identity in Africa and the Diaspora,” presented as part of the 2013-2014 Faculty Colloquium series at Willamette University (Salem, 2014).

Humor as a Way to Re-Image and Re-Imagine Gabon and France in La Vie de Pahé and Dipoula,” European Comic Art vol. 5, no. 2 (2012) 44-66.

Michelle Bumatay and Hannah Warman, “Illustrating Genocidaires, Orphans, and Child Soldiers in Central Africa,” Peace Review vol. 24, no. 3 (2012) 332-339.

Aya de Yopougon: A More Palatable Africa,” presented at the African Activist Association’s Fourth Annual Conference, “Narratives of Now: Visual and Performance Art in Africa” (University of California, Los Angeles 2009)

La collaboration à distance: Entretien avec Alain Mabanckou,” in Paroles gelées vol. 25, no. 1 (2009) 27-34.

For my initial post, I chose to review a recently published non-fiction BD entitled La Fantaisie des Dieux: Rwanda 1994 by Patrick de Saint-Exupéry and Hippolyte for multiple reasons. First, I thought it fitting to begin with a BD published in the spring of 2014 so as to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide as I have been working on representations of the genocide in BD for quite some time and I find it pertinent and telling that this particular BD serves as a kind of commemoration of the genocide. Second, the representation of the past and its influence on the present, which are so pronounced in this particular BD, are arguably at the heart of many contemporary BD. Third, whereas the trend for francophone BD is towards auteur texts in which the author is responsible for both the images and the text, La fantaisie des Dieux: Rwandan 1994, as a collaborative effort between de Saint-Exupéry and Hippolyte, allows me to single out various verbal and visual components whose marriage is foundational for understanding the text as a whole. And lastly, I chose La Fantaisie des Dieux: Rwanda 1994 precisely because of its contemporaneity as it provides interesting insight into the current state of BD production, dissemination, and consumption in the francophone context.

La Fantaisie des Dieux: Rwanda 1994

Feel free to use the form below to contact me with questions and comments.

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