Comics fanzine 'Vite' showcases work in Comics Art Museum
Dennis Marien (© Ivan Put)
"Always too late." It could be the ironic baseline of Vite, the comics fanzine which from its home on the 25th floor of WTC I, towers high above the multilingual underbelly from which it mines its stories.
But in that slowness there is time and space for a creative process that marches to the beat of its own drum, defying the dictates of the market; a core principle it shares with the whole small press scene of which Vite is a part. It is a process moreover that offers fertile ground for new forms of storytelling, that still carve out a respectful space for the reader.
Like some kind of laboratory where work can be done free from taboos or overly concrete ambitions. "Vite was founded in 2011 by seven friends from Saint-Luc who wanted to publish something together," Dennis Marien – comics creator, collaborator of the Comics Art Museum, and, as the only survivor of the original seven, the driving force behind Vite – explains. "Not to launch a career, but just for fun, and out of a shared love for books. That is still Vite's identity."
Freedom is at its heart. The freedom to take your time but also to let go occasionally. "Making a comic book is a long and absorbing process. It helps to release it on the world once in a while. You'd go mad otherwise. In that sense I am very happy that I share this space with other people; it provides a good balance to my dark worldview." [Laughs]
Vite is poison and antidote in one: a matter of offering freedom and trust and getting a lot in return. "I hardly do anything at all in the contributions themselves. I can always offer a little guidance if necessary, but I'm convinced that if you don't interfere, people usually succeed in making really good stuff." With contributions from people like Mikkel Ørsted Sauzet, My Atlegrim, Nils Bertho, Brecht Vandenbroucke, Sukrii Kural, and Stéphane De Groef, we're not surprised.
"For every issue, I launch an open call, based loosely around a theme, and send it to about 200 people. Then I just wait for the contributions, and once everything has been sent in, I hang it up on the wall here and try to create some structure in the madness. [Laughs] Find a pattern on a visual level – often colour – that might even bring out some kind of narrative structure. My guiding question is always: how can we make the very best of this by linking the endless narrative and visual possibilities to what is technically possible?"
"Comics are an incredible and an incredibly difficult medium: you try to tell a story in words and images, to get a continuous and gripping flow into it, and to produce a form that, although it is based on a constructed pattern, feels spontaneous. It can go completely wrong at any point in the process. But when it works, it is an incomparable experience."
> Vite. Poison. > 09/04, Comics Art Museum, Brussels