El Messias by Wauter Mannaert
El Messias

Wauter Mannaert is a Belgian comic artist, illustrator and cartoonist. He received his Master's degree in animation from the Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Brussels in 2002. During his university years he already published some comics in the magazine Ink. After graduation he worked at Imagica, a non-profit organisation who teaches young people on how to deal with media language on the news, TV shows and cinema. After seven years the organisation was discontinued and Mannaert went to another non-profit organisation, Jes, where he dealt with multimedia. As a hobby he was active in music. After roughly a decade Mannaert noticed several former St. Lucas students all breaking through by making graphic novels, including Judith Vanistendael, Olivier Schrauwen, Brecht Evens and Conz. This motivated him to make comics too. He ranks Christophe Blain and political cartoonist Gal as a strong influence too. 

His debut comic 'Ondergronds' (Oog&Blik, 2010), created with writer Pierre De Jaeger, is a tribute to the American adventure comics of the 1930s.The story revolves around a small U.S. community. 

Chaostheorie├źn by Wauter Mannaert
'Chaostheorie' for Zazie

With Mark Bellido, he made 'El Mesías', a graphic novel about the struggle of a small village in Andalusia against capitalism, which was pubished by Blloan Media in 2015. The community builds its own "isle of social justice, surrounded by the imperium of capitalism". With Max De Radiguès, he made a comic book about the life of Usher Fellig (1899-1968), the New York street photographer better known was Weegee. 'Weegee' was published by Blloan in 2016.

In 2011 Mannaert also started a collaboration with Eva Hilhorst, a colleague illustrator at the Brussels magazine Brussel Deze Week. It bothered him that he often did socially conscious work in the city, especially with children and teenagers, while doing nothing with these experiences in his comics. He wanted to move away from just drawing "funny little men". He and Hilhorst therefore collaborated on travel reports set in Brussels. They visit certain locations and then write and draw a one page comic strip about this topic. At first they tried to be neutral and deliberately kept their own viewpoint out of it. But after a while they decided to use themselves as protagonists, since it gave the stories a more interesting personal experience. It also allowed them to add a little lightweight comedy here and there. Mannaert and Hilhorst's comic strip reports originally ran on a monthly, some irregular basis. In August 2013 Mannaert was named house cartoonist of Brussel Deze Week. From that moment on their comic strip reports appeared every week. Many locations in the episodes are chosen based on current events. They can discuss a small riot in one of the suburbs, or simply some kind of festival or parade. Since Brussels is the Belgian capital, Mannaert and Hilhorst have more thematic possibilities. They can discuss very local events, or topics on a national level. And the comic strip format also allows him to do surreal things, like having cars or a stadion talk. 

In June 2005, when Anne Brumagne, the chief editor of Brussel Deze Week, resigned, Mannaert made a very stingy comic strip to express his anger about how the government creates subsidy plans and how digital evolution often leads to the cancellation of printed media, as if the two cannot coexist. 

Once Mannaert caused controversy when he drew a cartoon depicting N-VA politicians Geert Bourgeois and Ben Weyts as two Tolkienian characters on a bridge, protecting small-minded Flanders against the French language in Brussels. It directly referenced the plans to build an extra Flemish cultural home in Ruisbroek, a town in the Brussels municipality. He received quite a few angry readers letters and death threats from Flemish-nationalists who felt offended. 

He also has a monthly comics column in the paper's children's supplement Zazie.

In 2019 his 'Yasmina & de Aardappeleters' won the Willy Vandersteenprijs. On 8 October 2020 his series 'Yasmina' received its own comics mural in the Rue de Verdun / Verdunstraat in Brussels, as part of the Brussels' Comic Book Route. 

He was interviewed in Roel Daenen's book 'Het Is Maar Om Te Lachen. Hoe Cartoonisten De Wereld Veranderen' (Polis, 2016), which collects interviews with Belgian cartoonists regarding censorship, in the light of the 2015 terrorist attacks at Charlie-Hebdo's headquarters. 

Ondergronds by Wauter Mannaert
Ondergronds

www.wautermannaert.be

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