From Our Continental Correspondent – Union Der Helden
OK – this is going to sound like the generalisation to end all generalisations: I can’t think of two words that, when combined with “comics” make me cringe more than “German” and “Photo”. There, I said it. German comics typically reminds me of Fix Und Foxy or Ralf König, whereas “Photocomics” makes me think back to the women’s magazines of thirty years ago, which would typically feature a saccharine soap opera in comic form. With photographs, of course: drawings are for children (although in the UK photo romance strips were also common for young teenage schoolgirls mags too and I’m sure several of our readers will cringe remembering them – Joe).
But lo and behold, here comes the Union Der Helden! Helped with Photoshop and other contemporary editing technology, a rather edgy sense of humour and lots and lots of panache, this is an actual photo comic, about superheroes, in current day Germany (the Ruhr area, to be exact). It tells the story of a cool, rather cynical social sciences student who, when visited by The One In White (who wears black, incidentally), turns into the Archangel and has to battle Manero, the king of the Bochum underworld and his cronies. The comic was created by Arne Schulenberg and Eric Wünsche, with photography by Jens Sundheim, and illustrative work by Patrick Soeder.
(an early page from Union Der Helden by Schulenberg, Wünsche, Sundheim and Soeder)
So far there have been three episodes and as many asides (in which the characters or the creators address the readers about how the comic is created, and how they can use FaceBook to promote it), generally boiling down to fairly static storylines, with a lot of asides and talking head shots. Special effects are used sparingly, and generally the action is kept relatively believable. Still, it shows potential, not in the least by trying (and managing) to combine a fairly unexotic setting with something quite outrageous as super-heroes.
(discussing how to use the web and social sites to promote your comics in Union Der Helden)
I hope the creators find the inspiration to keep this up until it reaches its second wind, and we may see this evolving into something beautiful – a photocomic to pay attention to.
Wim Lockefeer lives in Belgium and is available to star in a photostrip comics about a comics reader who develops superpowers which allow him to save Brussels from an alien menace. You can read more on his Ephemerist blog.