A Shadowgraphic History by Rino Feys

Rino Feys is a Belgian writer and poet. He made a contribution to the world of comics with his experimental web series 'A Shadowgraphic History', which he also self-published in comic book format (2013, 2016). For artist Jimmy Hostens, Feys scripted a more traditional graphic novel, 'Altijd Ergens Oorlog' (2016-2014), set in the Flemish town Roeselare during the First World War. A critical and commercial success, the book won an award and went through several reprints. 

Early life and career
Rino Feys was born in 1967 in Zarren in the coastal province West Flanders. He enjoyed reading and writing from a young age. His main graphic influences are Léon Spilliaert, AAaRGH..., Robert Crumb, Morris, Hugo PrattJacques Tardi, Xavier Truant, Fiep Westendorp and Siegfried Woldhek.

Feys had several jobs, varying from point welder and metalworker to pub owner and bookseller. Between 1999 and 2007, he ran his own food bar, 't Walhalla in Roeselare. He then worked as a book salesman for book store De Zondvloed between 2008 and 2012. Since 2013, Feys found a steady dayjob as store manager in the Kringloopwinkel thrift shop in Avelgem, while using his spare time to work on artistic projects. Several of his poems and stories have been published in literary magazines such as De Brakke Hond, Dietsche Warande & Belfort, Kluger Hans and Oikos. They also appeared online on Sociaal.Net and MO.be Magazine. Feys has also participated with literary festivals. Under the pseudonym Busmins, he performed poetry in West-Flemish dialect, while he also adapts these poems as songs with his band, Turf. His books 'Kruimels. Op Zoek Naar Een Toekomst' (Bibliodroom, 2018) and 'Microkosmos. Verhalen Uit De Kringloopwinkel' (Mammoet/Epo, 2020) are a semi-autobiographical series of short stories set in a thrift shop.  

Feys has also managed to bring media attention to his own thrift shop. In 2022, a customer walked in his store and complained that he had "much higher expectations" of what he would be able to find there. Feys then said that the king would pay a visit soon. The client obviously didn't believe him and added that "a thrift store would be beyond the monarch's level." This motivated Feys to write an open letter to Belgian king Filip/Philippe, which he also posted on Facebook. Much to his surprise, the king was so charmed by the letter that he actually announced he would visit Feys' thriftstore. On 31 March 2022, Feys welcomed king Filip in his store in Avelgem, an event reported on the national news. 

A Shadowgraphic History by Rino Feys
'Passing Through'. 

A Shadowgraphic History
In the early 2010s, Feys developed a series of web comics and cartoons on Facebook, later also published on the website Pulp de Luxe. In 2013 and 2016, he also compiled them in two comic books, 'A Shadowgraphic History', published on his own account under the Decals, Insignia imprint. The comics are difficult to pigeonhole. No human or anthropomorphic characters are used, just letters, lines and shapes. The main recurring character is the letter "R". Episodes hold the middle between one-panel cartoons and text comics. The comedy comes from the descriptions underneath the images, which give the abstract situation a recognizable interpretation. Some is obversation comedy, like the images describing the "play" and "pause" buttons on any media player. Other episodes offer light philosophical musings and satirical social commentary. Feys himself describes his shadowgraphic histories as "a somewhat absurd autobiography with the everyday influences that come at us through art, film, books and music.".

Altijd Ergens Oorlog
Together with comic artist Jimmy Hostens, Feys created the two-parter 'Altijd Ergens Oorlog' (Bibliodroom, 2016-2018), a graphic novel set in Roeselare, West Flanders, during the First World War. The book follows the diary of a young girl, Marie, who lives through the German occupation. The real-life nurse and spy Martha Cnockaert also has an important role in the story. Feys and Hostens visited the city archives, several museums, read dozens of books and rummaged through several old photographs and pictures to document themselves about the time period. They were particularly inspired by Johan Delbecke's children's novel 'Kinderen In De Eerste Wereldoorlog' and the real-life diary of Jules Dujardin, a 14-year old boy who lived through the First World War. The first volume of Altijd Ergens Oorlog' was released in November 2016, the second in October 2018. Both books were a critical and commercial success. Within only a couple of years they already received three reprints. 

On 14 June 2019 Feys and Jimmy Hostens won the Roeselare Press Award for 'Altijd Ergens Oorlog'.

Similar artists
Other artists who have experimented with abstract comics art are Roberto AltmannMaurice Rosy, Lewis Trondheim, Andrei Molotiu, Roger Price and Wasco.

Jimmy Hostens and Rino Feys in 2019 (Photo: Marie-Christine Cocquyt).


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