Thierry Groensteen


December 6, 2021

Thierry Groensteen, born April 18, 1957 in Uccle (Brussels), is a comic book historian and theorist of Belgian and French nationality. In the 1980s, he contributed to the development of comic book theory by directing Les Cahiers de la comic strip, then working for Le Monde. Through institutional missions, publications, exhibitions, teaching and conferences, he has since continued his work on the theorization and legitimation of comics. He is one of the most visible French-speaking comic book theorists with Benoît Peeters, Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle and Harry Morgan. He also writes fiction.


Training (1960-1970)

From 1960 to 1975, Thierry Groensteen was a student at the European School in Brussels. In the early 1970s, he took acting lessons while running Buck, his school's newspaper, which he gradually transformed into a comic book fanzine. Tome published his first boards there, Numa Sadoul and Didier Pasamonik wrote articles. After his baccalaureate, he began studying journalism in 1975 at IHECS (Institute of Higher Studies in Social Communications), in Tournai, from which he graduated in 1979. After having been an intern for Le Soir in 1978, he worked at the Directorate-General for Information of the Commission of the European Communities until 1983. However, from that time on, he focused primarily on comics, while performing as an amateur actor in several Brussels troupes.

Publications and theory of comics (year 1980)

In 1980, his friends Didier and Daniel Pasamonik, who had just founded Magic Strip, published his first book, a monograph devoted to Jacques Tardi. The work abandons the biography for an analytical approach of the work and has the aspect of an art book. In 1983, he wrote most of the editorial work for Spirou and created there, with Glem, the ephemeral character of Freddy Guidon. He also collaborated on the editorial staff of (To be continued) and published in 1982 with Glénat L'Ingénue et le dictateur, the first part of the African adventures of Antoine and Victor, with the cartoonist Jean Lucas. The second episode, Les Compagnons du Mashamba, is pre-published in Circus, but the planned trilogy remains unfinished. In January 1984, he took over Les Cahiers de la Bande Dessine, Jacques Glénat's former fanzine, which was losing ground after fifty-five issues. Distributed in newsstands, with a circulation of 12,000 copies, the review offers, under the direction of Groensteen, a very thorough critical approach to comics. It renews the theory of comics [ref. necessary] and helps to make it recognized as a true art among the general public and the university. Groensteen abandoned the task in December 1988, after twenty-eight issues. The review only survives a few months after its departure. From 1986 to 1990, Groensteen also provided the monthly comic book chronicle of Le Monde. In 1987, he organized the colloquium “Comic strip, story and modernity”, which was held from August 1 to 11, 1987 in Cerisy. Jean-Christophe Menu meets Lewis Trondheim there. The proceedings of the conference are published by Futuropolis editions. From 1986 to 1989, he taught the language of comics at the Institut des Hautes Études des communications sociales, first alone, then alongside Thierry Smolderen. This is his first teaching experience. In September 1988, the National Center for Comics and Images (CNBDI) in Angoulême, taking into consideration its pre-eminent place in the French-speaking critical landscape [ref. necessary], recruits him as a "scientific advisor". Groensteen moved to Angoulême the following year. In parallel to his missions for the CNBDI, he teaches history

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