Exploring contemporary comics in a globalized world.


Futures of Comics

Futures of Comics is an international non-academic research programme. In the midst of increasingly financialized, globalized technological affordances, FoC attempts to document and reflect on contemporary artistic practices that are little known outside of comics communities and to establish a springboard for contemporary comics artists who use comics as a tool of production of knowledge. Through talks and conferences from various actors in the field, FoC proposes to map the social, economic, and gendered forces that shape the industry’s commercial, communication and production routines travelling along a signifying chain of productive contexts, entanglements of relationships between authors, readers, publishers, production routines, and the general book economy.

Futures of Comics is directed by Ilan Manouach.

See Program
Location: Crack Festival
Via Federico Delpino 187
Rome, Italy
Next dates: 22-25, June 2023
Production: Echo Chamber (Belgium)
Crack Festival
Program Director: Ilan Manouach
Curators: Ilan Manouach
Jana Jakoubek
Valerio Bindi
Silvia Varri
International Guests: Joe Kessler (UK)
Samplerman (France)
Jean Guichon Editeur (Belgium)
Matrijaršija (Serbia)
Daniela Zuluaga (Colombia)
Maline Suliman (Afghanistan)

Conceptual and post-digital comics are situated outside the traditional scope of regular literary and artistic practices involving text and images. They are not only located at the crossroads of different media. They move beyond disciplinary, formal and compartmental media terminology such as “graphic novel”, “visual poetry” or “artist books”. Futures of Comics examines how comics are undergoing historic mutations in the midst of increasingly financialized, globalized technological affordances and proposes to map the social, economic, racial and gendered forces that shape the industry’s commercial, communication and production routines.

The rainforest of pulp production, the printer’s studio, the blog’s readers column and the industrial landfill are not only the loci of new technologies of inscription. They are integral elements of a material language- a language that actively shapes the medium by activating its substrate as sites whose attributes are unfixed. The works discussed in Futures of Comics weave their own particular affective lineage, bouncing their signal to present, past and future works that might or might not be described as art. Futures of Comics and its invited international guests, examine the materiality of this language and challenge the readers to experientially navigate contemporary comics’ different meaning signified trajectories.

About Ilan Manouach

Ilan Manouach is a researcher, a musician and a multidisciplinary artist with a specific interest in conceptual and post-digital comics. Currently a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Ilan has a PhD from Aalto University in Helsinki where he examined how this century’s frontier technologies such as AI, financial technologies and globalized logistics reshape the comics industry. He is mostly known for Shapereader, a system for tactile storytelling specifically designed for blind and partially sighted readers/makers of comics. He is the founder of Echo Chamber, a Brussels-based non-profit organization with the mission to produce, fundraise, document and archive radical and speculative artistic practices in contemporary comics. The topics of his research and artistic practice include conceptual comics, post-internet publishing, and synthetic media and AI. On the side, Ilan works as a pirate/librarian for the Conceptual Comics Collections at Ubuweb and Monoskop, is an appointed expert in experimental comics for the Belgian government for its national public funding program (CCAP) and works as a strategy consultant for the Onassis Foundation and its visibility through its new publishing activity. The Comics Journal called him “one of the most critical contemporary cartoonists and thinkers working today” and Kenneth Goldsmith described him as “the most provocative, critical, and intelligent comic artist alive”.

Echo Chamber is a small-scale not-for-profit organization established under Belgian law. It is based in Brussels with the mission to produce, promote and document unconventional artistic practices in contemporary comics.