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Article Dans Une Revue Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society Année : 2022

Barbarella: Sexual Revolution or Editorial Revolution?

Margaret C. Flinn
  • Fonction : Traducteur
Margaret C. Flinn
  • Fonction : Auteur


In the history of French comics, Barbarella is usually perceived as a turning point towards "adult" bande dessinée. Released as an album by avant-garde publisher Éric Losfeld in 1964, Barbarella plays a key role in the Bildungsroman narrative that structures the history of the Ninth Art. Whereas Astérix plays on the ambiguities and multilayered readings of both children and their parents, Barbarella is unquestionably targeted for an adult, male audience: the sexualized space opera created by veteran comics artist Jean-Claude Forest leaves no doubt on the matter. A closer reading of Barbarella allows us to nuance this simplistic interpretation of French comics history. The 1964 album republishes a story previously released in the pornographic V Magazine, in serial installments. When published as a book, Barbarella is deeply transformed by the materiality of the format, allowing for a new narrative rhythm, structured in chapters. The monumentality of the book enables an auteur-driven approach to comics. Barbarella, then, represents a key moment in comics publishing, and a crucial model for a literary turn in comics. Its reception, both by the then-emerging fan culture and by the Commission de surveillance et de contrôle in charge of comics censorship, enables a better understanding of the difficult rise of an "adult" comics scene. Roger Vadim's problematic adaptation (and the new version of the book released alongside the movie) plays an important part in the canonization of Barbarella as a pop icon.
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Dates et versions

hal-04230692 , version 1 (06-10-2023)



Sylvain Lesage, Margaret C. Flinn, Margaret C. Flinn. Barbarella: Sexual Revolution or Editorial Revolution?. Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, 2022, Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, 6 (2), pp.119-141. ⟨10.1353/ink.2022.0010⟩. ⟨hal-04230692⟩
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