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In 2013, the Brussels office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has organised for the first time the International Comics Competition „Animate Europe“. The idea for the comics competition was developed by the Brussels office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in response to the call by the German Federal Foreign Office to break new ground in the communication on Europe. “We were looking for a new narrative for Europe,” says Hans H. Stein, Director of the Brussels Office. “We called on artists all over the world to tell us their story of Europe’s past, present or future in a graphic short story. Make Europe come to life – Animate Europe!” They sent in stories of myths, dreams, but also reality. The contributions are as different and fascinating in idea, style and shape as is Europe.
Out of the 21 entries from 15 countries the professional jury selected seven finalists to finish their story. On 3 December 2013, Marco Tabilio was awarded the first prize for his comic “Erasmus and the Seal” at the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels. Tabilio created a sequence of pictures in which Erasmus of Rotterdam discusses Europe with a seal in the belly of a whale. “It was an excellent idea to choose Erasmus as protagonist“, said the jury. “A historical figure, a thinker, a humanist and at the same time one of the first Europeans. Tabilio chose a surprising constellation by placing the current Problems Europe is facing in historical context. Due to its surreal approach and humour, the story is didactic without being patronizing. Tabilio‘s contribution is personal, appealing and full of graphic originality.“ The 26-year old Italian Tabilio works as illustrator, comics author and video artist in Hamburg.
The other finalists are André Slob (Netherlands, “The Pool”), Emily Victoria Solichin (Indonesia, “Saving Europa”), Luke Ellison (USA, „Salute!“), Gerardo Cornejo Lucaveche (Belgium, „A man finds a dog“), James Turek (USA, „Short stories“) and Kilian and Lukas Wilde (Germany, „Bordering“).
The jury consisted of Willem De Graeve (Director of the Belgian Comic Strip Center, Brussels), Thorsten Ernst (TV-author, Hamburg), Lilli Gärtner (Illustrator, Leipzig), Paul Gravett (Comics expert, London), Andreas C. Knigge (Comics Experte, Hamburg, Kreta), Marzena Sowa (Comics artist, Brussels) und Linda Torfs (Owner of a comics shop and gallery, Antwerp).
The exhibition will go on tour in Germany in 2014. The comics have been published in the anthology “Animate Europe”. They are available online and can be ordered as a hardcover comics book.