SONIA M. BIBE LUYTEN AND THE COMICS
Since her childhood Sonia read the customary comics of her age. But, opposite to other girls of her environment, who would abandon the comic magazines as teenagers and dedicate themselves to photo novels and other publications, Sonia went on with her comic strips. Later, as student of the School of Journalism Cásper Líbero, she was invited by Jornal da Tarde (a prestigious paper of São Paulo) to translate some revolutionary strips of those days, such as, Charlie Brown, BC, Andy Cap, and The Wizard of Id. Very soon, she was also translating Tintin for the O Estado de São Paulo. While a student of Journalism, she participated of all events linked to Comics, including the International Congress of Comic Strips held at the Modern Art Museum of S.Paulo. There she met Lee Falk, author of Phantom and Mandrake.
Two years later, Sonia Luyten was contracted by the School of Communication and Arts of São Paulo State University in order to teach Comics Editing. There, she started the experimental magazine, which became famous in strips editing in Brazil: Quadreca. She also founded the first comic strips museum of Brazil called Julio de Mesquita Filho, because of a great donation, which had been made for the University. During all the time Sonia stayed at the University (1972 – 1984) she participated actively of all events related to the sector. One of them was the nostalgic Strip Congress of Avaré (1973) where she presented her first paper concerning Manga and met Will Eisner who proposed a book about the subject written by both of them. The future, however, took a different direction and Sonia Luyten continued actively battling for a more independent Brazilian cartoon production, by means of articles, congresses and artists’ meetings.
Besides the university, Sonia also started teaching at a professional school called RIAN, organized by the duo JAL-GUAL (José Alberto Lovetro and João Gualberto Costa). Both became very famous from then on.. During the 80’s there were also some artistic-political manifestations like Carbono-14, where some artists produced the greatest comic strip of all times. A huge comic strip covered all the walls of an eight floors building at the bohemian district of Bexiga, in São Paulo city.
Sonia’s contacts with eastern comics also started at São Paulo University in 1976, when she edited an issue of Quadreca totally dedicated to Manga. From this time on there was the existence of an Association of Manga Friends and a small collection of Japanese strips. This association, in 1982, merged with ABRADEMI (Brazilian Association of Manga Research) which was founded by Francisco Noriyuki Sato, Roberto Kussumoto, and Sonia herself. She, however, never forgot about Brazilian and international comics. In 1985, she published a book about comics, together with her graduate students called Histórias em Quadrinhos – Leitura Crítica. Right after, another publication of hers was released: O Que é História em Quadrinhos. Both publications had several editions.
From movement to movement, from manifestation to manifestation, the years went by and, in 1984; Sonia Luyten was contracted as visiting professor by Osaka University of Foreign Studies (Japan). There, she really got in contact with the production of Japanese Strips and their great artists. In a short time, she got acquainted with T. Yanase, who invited her for the Manga Festival of Osaka. Right after, she became friend of Tesuka Osamu, Yumiko Igarashi and many other stars of the manga constellation. As professor of Brazilian Culture, Sonia engaged in making known all aspects of Brazil, including Comics. It was in Japan where Sonia started to write her Ph.D. thesis for São Paulo University and she defended it in 1988. Right after, she obtained the Romano Calisi Prize, conceded by the Comics Festival of Lucca. And there she went to Italy, in 1990. Her thesis was published in Brazil under the title of Manga – the power of Japanese Comics and was very soon sold out.
Sonia Luyten has never lost contact with Brazilian cartoon artists. At least once every year, she would come back to Brazil in order to participate of congresses, salons (as member of jury) and meetings.
In 1991, the Luyten Family moved to Holland and there started another chapter, this time concerning European comics. Sonia organized several exhibits of Brazilian sequential arts and cartoons, such as, the Salon of Haarlem and at the Royal University of Utrecht where she taught for several years. She also took some famous artists, such as Teo van den Boogaard, Pontiac (both from Holland) and Charles Jarry (Belgium) to the I International Comic Strips Salon of Rio de Janeiro. Later, Sonia was invited to participate in the Comics Festival of Amadora (Portugal) where she represented, alternately, Brazil, Holland and India (another passion of hers). This way, she initiated contacts among Portuguese and Brazilian artists. In 1998 she went to France in order to teach at Poitiers University and, of course, participated twice of the Salon of Angoulème.
She was curator of many comics exhibition in Brazil and abroad like Internacional Bienal of Rio de Janeiro, Comics Festival in Haarlem (Holland), Poitiers (França), and Amadora (Portugal).
There were no more contacts there because she became homesick and, in 2000, returned definitely to São Paulo and São Vicente, where she now lives right on the sea-shore. Here, she reedited her book about Manga and pubished another one in 2005 : Japanese Pop Culture – Manga and Anime (Ed. Hedra, 2005). Soon she received her third award of HQ MIX, another of ABRADEMI and in 2005, the Prize Angelo Agostini. Sonia was professor and Head of Department at the Catholic University of Santos from 200 to 2005 giving lectures, examination boards, papers, presentations, everything, which may be linked to sequential arts and cartoons.
Nowadays she writes to the site www.universohq.com.br in two columns: Quadrinhos pelos mundo (Comics around the world) and Banca de Teses (Thesis about Comic Strips) giving the opportunity to show by the internet the academic production about Graphic Humor and Comics.