A Look At The Angouleme International Comics Festival

Tue, January 30th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Shaun Manning, Staff Writer

Selections from Angouleme's "Essentials"

A city of comics, hosting a line-up of international stars, drawing in fans from all over the world. France's Angouleme Festival International de la Bande Dessinée celebrated its 34 th with appearances by Enki Bilal, Charles Burns, and Les Humoides Associes' Shogun team. The festival also showed many signs of its recent struggles, problems that have led many to speculate that this will be the last year of the convention in its current form, if it returns at all.

Now removed from the city center, the 2007 BD Angouleme was spread over five major venues. The trail is walkable, for those used to walking a lot, but many attendees chose to rely on severely over-crowded (but complementary) shuttle buses to get from place to place. The major exposition hall contained the exhibitors' booths, autograph areas, and vendors, while the nearby Centre National de la Bande Dessinée held exhibitions on Richard McGuire's "Autofictions" and "Jean-Pierre Marquet a la Librairie." Up a hill and around a corner sits the theatre, where comix improv took place, and completing the circle are the Espace Franquin and Espace Découvertes, where various events took place. Though there was always something fascinating happening at the festival, time spent moving from one place to another somewhat limited the scope of what was possible to attend, and demanded careful planning to reach the right venue at the right time. Finding a convenient spot to eat outside the typically over-priced and under-nutritious cafeteria food is a challenge, adding to the necessity of a precise calendar or an iron stomach.

Gabrielle Dell'Otto sketches Spider-Man

Searching about the main hall, my first instinct was to evaluate the essential differences between this and the American comic cons I've attended back home. Well, that got dull rather quick - it's all the same, and it's all different, in ways reflective of the tendencies of American comics and their European cousins. The variety of genre, the coequality of comic strips to albums, the ever-growing presence of manga, the utter absense of fans dressed in spandex; cast an eye around, and it's all strange and familiar. And it's great to just live for a minute in this community, coming into it from the edges.

My first purchase (not including a pastry near the train station) was Alex de Campi and Eduardo Ocaña's "Messiah Complex," a book I'd been looking forward to since de Campi's "Smoke" concluded and, I suspect, well worth the effort of learning a new language to read. I kid; I have enough French to make my way more or less competently around the town and halls, just not well enough to have a conversation. I feel bad about it, though, so I hope that counts for something. After a chat with Jose Villarrubia, I also picked up a copy of his and Alan Moore's "Mirror of Love," also in French, which I expect will have a rather steep (but immensely rewarding) learning curve. Villarubia mentioned he is working on another project with Moore, which will premiere en francais.

The always-busy Glénat booth
It's striking just how much stuff is available, and how thin the line between indie and mainstream publishing in Europe appears to be. One section of the Salon des Éditeurs housed what may equate to the Marvel/DC/Image area of an American show, with sort of action-adventure and manga comics publishers like Casterman, Les Humanoides, Delcourt, and Panini, while the other side held Ca et La, Denoël Graphic, and tons of other small but thriving presses. The quantity and popularity of these independents was impressive, and it was encouraging to see that their alotted space was nearly as large as the flashier publishers.

The Angouleme festival's financial and organizational upheaval created some interesting drama before the show even began. As late as a month before the festival, some web sites were reporting that BD Angouleme might not happen at all; Angouleme's official online presence did little to contradict such worries, as internet ticket sales were not available for an unsettling amount of time and an official guest list was nowhere to be found. It was also not encouraging that the 2007 festival's posters, which in the past had been elaborate works of cartoon art, would this year bear only a fist clutching a pencil, punching through a red background - a design that may have been done in-house using Microsoft Paint. Few promotional items or souvenirs were on sale in the main hall, and those that were appeared to be leftovers from previous, more inspiring campaigns.

Publisher Canson's manga class

But the good news, the main news items from the show are the awards. A manga took home the "Best Album" award for the first time, as Shigeru Mizuki's "Non Non Ba" took home top honors, and José Muñoz received the Grand Prix award for his life's work. Jérôme Mulot and Florent Ruppert "Panier de singe" won for "Best Newcomer." The full list of winners follows.

BEST COMIC BOOK

  • Non Non Bâ, de Shigeru Mizuki – Cornélius

THE ANGOULEME ESSENTIALS

  • Black Hole, de Charles Burns – Editions Delcourt

  • Lucille, de Ludovic Debeurme – Editions Futuropolis

  • Lupus, de Frederik Peeters – Editions Atrabile

  • Le photographe, de Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefèvre, Frédéric Lemercier – Editions Dupuis

  • Pourquoi j'ai tué Pierre, de Olivier Ka et Alfred – Editions Delcourt

BEST NEWCOMER

  • Panier de singe, de Jérôme Mulot et Florent Ruppert - L'Association

THE COMICS HERITAGE PRIZE

  • Sergent Laterreur, de Touïs et Frydman - L'Association

DISCOVERY PRIZES

YOUTH PRIZE 7/8 years old

  • Tigres et nounours, de Mike Bullock et Jack Lawrence – Editions Angle comics / Bamboo

YOUTH PRIZE 9/12 years old

  • Seuls Tome 1 - La disparition, de Bruno Gazzotti et Fabien Vehlmann – Editions Dupuis

YOUG TALENT PRIZE

  • Premier lauréat : Kyung Eun Park
  • Deuxième lauréat : Grazia La Padula
  • Troisième lauréat : Dominique Mermoux

Caisse d'Epargne Prize for the School Comic Strip

  • Lucrèce Andreae – François Magendie College of Bordeaux (Gironde)

  • Category "Humour" : Juliette Mancini – Jean-Paul Sartre College of Bron (Rhône)

  • Category "Design" : Louis Donnot – College of Lagny sur Marne (Seine & Marne)

  • Category "Scenario" : Luca Oliveri – Gabriel Fauré College of Annecy (Haute Savoie)

Learning Activities and the Cartoon Strip Prize awarded by the Ministry for Youth, Sport and Community Life

  • Maison de la culture et des loisirs de la Roche Posay (Vienne)

  • Centre de loisirs de Saint Xandre (Charente Maritime)

  • Tickets Sports Loisirs (Morbihan)

  • Centre social et culturel « Les épis » (Meurthe & Moselle)

Schoolchildren of Poitou-Charentes Comic Strip Prize

  • Khéti, fils du Nil Tome 1 Au delà des portes, Dethan and Mazan – Editions Delcourt jeunesse

PRIZE AWARDED BY THE AUDIENCE

  • Pourquoi j'ai tué Pierre, d'Olivier Ka et Alfred – Editions Delcourt

THE ALTERNATIVE COMICS PRIZE

  • Canicola, fanzine italien de Bologne

ASSOCIATED PRIZES

RTL Comic Strip Prize

  • Henri Désiré Landru de Christophe Chabouté - Editions Vents d'Ouest

René Goscinny Prize

  • Lucille de Ludovic Debeurme – Editionss Futuropolis

E. Leclerc and Bodoi "Décoincer la bulle" Prize

  • Christophe Marchetti pour La Tranchée – Editions Vents d'Ouest

Views of the City Prize awarded by Office Franco-Québécois

  • Jean-François Barthelemy and Francis Desharnais

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