Matt Madden was kind enough to clue me in to the existence of Jochen Gerner’s TNT En Amerique — a blackout comic that takes Herge’s Tintin In America and reduces the speech bubbles to phrases and the colors to graphic symbols. The project came about through Gerner’s experience with OuBaPo — the comics equivalent of the group exploring writing with constraints, OuLiPo.

Here’s a look at one of the pages:


Gerner says of his work (obviously a translation from French):

The main interest for me of the comic strip is the infinite possible links between text and image: a system of representation continually confronting, in a kind of alchemy, text and picture….The idea “TNT en Amérique” sprang from…OuBaPo, from exercises, experiments. I try to find new reading perspectives. I dismantle a given material to make something else of it…. I bought…old copies of “Tintin en Amérique”. [I] worked directly on the printed editions by cutting the pages one by one and covering them thickly with black ink….I did not see this book as a “technical feat” but as the discovery of a secret passage , of a dark track followed to the end.

I can’t get a close enough look at the pages to really tell exactly what’s going on, but it’s got something to do with violence and America: Gerner goes on about how the page became “night” with unblackened color emerging like neon signs from American life. Here’s a few page spreads from the publisher’s site:


James Kochalka has said of this kind of thing, “remixes destroy the original comic art, but create something new and wonderful from it. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, destruction equals creation.” I dig it.

I’d write more about OuBaPo and OuLiPo, but we’re trying to pack up for our big Austin apartment-hunting trip. For more on my thoughts about writing and restraints, see these past posts: “Mathematical Storytelling,” “A Humument,” and my “Newspaper Blackout Poems.”

Big thanks to Matt for the tip! Be sure to check out his really cool book, 99 Ways To Tell A Story: Exercise In Style, and his blog.

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