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For Belgian author, Thai comics are no laughing matter

History of graphic tales honors forgotten heroes of local pop culture

“The Art of Thai Comics: A Century of Strips and Stripes,“ by Thailand-based academic Nicolas Verstappen, right, is a long-overdue tribute to a succession of dazzling yet little-known local comic artists. (Nikkei montage/Source photos by River Books and Sukanya Sompiboon, 2019)

BANGKOK -- Nicolas Verstappen is not a comical man. But he is a happy one. A sober and methodical Belgian academic, Verstappen specialized in film history and medieval art before following a childhood passion for comic books -- “they were my native language, more than French,” he observes -- by working 15 years at Multi BD, the leading Brussels bookstore for sketched strips. No mere Mickey Mouse-chaser, he also wrote articles, gave talks and hosted radio shows on the popular art form’s exceptional power to express “trauma and sexual abuse.”

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