MOSCOW GOES IN FOR COMICS

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MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - The M'ARS Contemporary Art Center opened today a 4th Moscow comic strip festival, the ComMission 2005. French, Italian, Polish, Belgian, Slovene and Japanese artists are taking part alongside Russians.

The Kultura government television and radio broadcasting company offers ample information about the event on its website, www.cultcorp.ru.

The central festival topic is named by a peculiar coinage-Fanjinshi, a portmanteau word made of the English "fanzine" and "dojinshi", Japanese analogue of "Samizdat", Russian word for an underground public arrangement on which dissident literature was printed and circulated in the Soviet years. The word now goes for all amateur publications.

Festival organizers have established an award, For the Best Samizdat.

The festival is offering a contest program for professionals and amateurs alike. Anyone is welcome to see the terms on the kommissia.ru website, which will arrange a general poll to appoint Popular Favorites. Prizes expect them all.

The ComMission 2005 will include reruns of Soviet slides. Also in offer are video comics by the Blue Noses team, and "Just You Wait!"-a comic strip project by Russian animated cartoon celebrities Kurlyandsky and Kotenochkin. Alexei Venediktov, Echo of Moscow radio chief editor, is exhibiting gems of his private collection.

Timed to the festival is another exposition, In the Process. Hosted by the State Contemporary Art Center, it displays the latest strips by the excellent Georgy Litichevsky and Georgy Ostretsov.

The show has transformed the center attic into a cave, walls painted from top to bottom with murals imitating a primitive culture. Each artist is presenting a story. Ostretsov is coming up with New Government chronicles, while Litichevsky has invented a Preternatural Forest with its nightmarish denizens-psychopathic ants and zombie flowers. The heroes freely travel from one visual story into the other till the two strips merge into one-a narration of everyone's panicky horror of new times' reprisals and primeval chaos.

The exposition is open into May 29.

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