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Bilal, Enki

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist, Comics.

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Working name of Yugoslavian-born Comics illustrator, film director and author Enes Bilalović (1951-    ), in France from 1960; a very distinctive, innovative and original creator of sensuous, decadent futures. He attended the Académie des Beaux Arts briefly in the early 1970s. In 1971 he won a competition to create an sf Comic-strip story run by the magazine Pilote, in which he subsequently published a number of strips later collected in book form as L'appel des étoiles ["The Call of the Stars"] (graph coll 1974; vt Le bol maudit ["The Cursed Bowl"] 1982). A further collection was Memoires d'outre éspace (graph coll 1978; trans as Outer States 1990). In 1973 he met and teamed up with sf writer Pierre Christin (1938-    ) to produce five graphic novels: La croisière des oubliés (graph 1975; trans in Heavy Metal April-November 1982 as "The Voyage of Those Forgotten"), Le vaisseau de pierre (graph 1976; trans in Heavy Metal July-November 1980 as "Progress"), La ville qui n'existait pas (graph 1977; trans in Heavy Metal March-September 1983 as "The City that Didn't Exist"), Les phalanges de l'ordre noir (graph 1979; trans as The Ranks of the Black Order 1989) and Partie de chasse (graph 1982; trans in Heavy Metal June 1984-March 1985 as "The Hunting Party"). He also collaborated with the writer Jean-Pierre Dionnet (1947-    ) to produce Exterminateur 17 (graph 1979; trans in Heavy Metal October 1977-March 1978 as Exterminator 17; 1986).

In 1981 Bilal began to write and draw what eventually became the sf Nikopol Trilogy, comprising La Foire aux immortels (graph 1980; trans by Justin Kelly and Taras Otus as Gods in Chaos 1985), La femme piége (graph 1986; trans by Justin Kelly and Taras Otus as The Woman Trap 1986) and Froid Équateur ["Cold Equator"] (graph 1992), all three assembled as La Trilogie Nikopol (omni 1992; all trans Justin Kelly and Taras Otus 1999). The protagonist, Herakles Nikopol, awakens unexpectedly from a sentence of Suspended Animation (see Crime and Punishment) to find the Near Future France of 2023 in the grips of a surreally Dystopian government. Having become the involuntary Avatar of an Alien who calls itself Horus, and haunted by a Doppelganger who may be his son, the increasingly psychotic Nikopol plunges into a series of gonzo adventures in the disintegrating world, which are vividly drawn by Bilal in terms that adumbrate a Ruined Earth to come. The first two instalments of the Nikopol Trilogy, much modified, were filmed as Immortel (Ad Vitam) ["Immortal (Ad Vitam)"] (2004), set in a Dystopian New York in 2095; Bilal both wrote and directed the film.

In 1989-1990 Bilal collaborated with Christin on a series of reportage fictions from five different cities, under the series title Coeurs sanglants ["Bleeding Hearts"], for which his illustrations comprised photographs with additional features drawn or painted in. Other works include his four-part graphic novel series, The Hatzfeld Tetralogy, a very stylish series concerning a Near-Future world of globalization, terrorism and "the incarnation of pure evil", comprising Le sommeil du monstre (graph 1998), 32 Décembre (graph 2003), Rendez-vous à Paris (graph 2006), and Quatre? (graph 2007).

Bilal has collaborated with French film-maker Alain Resnais (1922-2014), providing set designs for La vie est un roman (1983; vt Life Is a Bed of Roses), and contributed design work to The Keep (1983) directed by Michael Mann (1943-    ) and to the film version of The Name of the Rose (1986), based on the novel by Umberto Eco and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud (1943-    ), who had earlier directed Quest for Fire (1981). After Immortel (Ad Vitam) [see above], Bilal also directed the sf movie Bunker Palace Hotel (1990), a thriller set in the future involving Robots. [RT/JC/AR]

see also: Heavy Metal; Illustration; Métal Hurlant.

Enes Bilalović

born Belgrade, Yugoslavia [now Serbia]: 7 October 1951

works (highly selected)


The Nikopol Trilogy

  • La Foire aux immortels (Paris: Dargaud, 1980) [graph: Nikopol Trilogy: illus/pb/Enki Bilal]
    • Gods in Chaos (New York: Catalan Communications, 1988) [graph: trans by Justin Kelly and Taras Otus of the above: Nikopol Trilogy: illus/pb/Enki Bilal]
  • La femme piége (Paris: Dargaud, 1986) [graph: Nikopol Trilogy: illus/pb/Enki Bilal]
    • The Woman Trap (New York: Catalan Communications, 1988) [graph: trans by Justin Kelly and Taras Otus of the above: Nikopol Trilogy: illus/pb/Enki Bilal]
  • Froid Équateur ["Cold Equator"] (Paris: Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1992) [graph: Nikopol Trilogy: illus/pb/Enki Bilal]
    • La Trilogie Nikopol (Paris: Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1992) [omni of the above three: graph: Nikopol Trilogy: illus/pb/Enki Bilal]
      • The Nikopol Trilogy (Los Angeles, California: Humanoids Publishing, 1999) [omni: graph: trans by Justin Kelly and Taras Otus of the above, including trans anon of Froid Équateur: Nikopol Trilogy: illus/hb/Enki Bilal]


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