The world of comics starts its year with the 37th Angoulême International Comics Festival in the west of France Thursday. Popular with hardcore fans, the industry and the general public, it expects to draw 200,000 visitors during its four-day run.
Financing difficulties and the spectre of the economic crisis created fears for the survival of the most prestigious comic-book festival in Europe, but the Angoulême International Comics Festival, which opens Thursday, has managed to overcome the loss of some expected local state subsidies.
In France, the market for the “ninth art”, as graphic novels and comic books are called, has been most resistant publishing sector to the effects of the economic crisis.
Presiding over the 37th edition of the festival is Blutch, the French artist who won Angoulême’s Grand Prix in 2009. Blutch and the artistic director, Benoît Mouchart, have put together an eclectic programme – covering manga, humour, “heroic fantasy” and American comics.
Here is a look at what’s featured:
Two giants of the comic world will be guests of honour at Angoulême: Jean-Jacques Sempé, a French institution and a long-time featured artist in The New Yorker, and Robert Crumb, the pope of American alternative comics, whose illustrated version of “The Book of Genesis” is part of the festival’s official selection. Also appearing will be Joe Sacco, the comics-journalist author of “Footnotes in Gaza”, about the killings of hundreds of Palestinians in 1956, the French comic artist Enki Bilal, and manga author Seiichi Hayashi.
This year the festival will award seven prizes, the Fauves, including the top prize for best book; 58 books have been selected for the official competition.
Two shows pay homage to perennial favourites of comic fans: the creators of the Belgian “Tuniques Bleues” series and the “Léonard” series by Philippe Liegeois, whose pen name is Turk, and Bob de Groot. Other shows will focus on authors and artists such as Blutch, Fabrice Neaud (of “Ego Comme X” magazine) and Fabio Viscogliosi (“Ma Vie de Garçon”); on the history of satirical drawings; and on the younger generation of Russian comic artists.
Cartoon Concerts, which was inaugurated in 2005 featuring concerts before a big-screen projection of comic strips, will this year feature several artists with a scenario by Zep, creator of the character Titeuf, and a soundtrack by Areski Belkacem’s orchestra. Fans of Japanese comics will gather at the Manga Building and industry pros from the rights and licensing sector. In “Cinémonstre”, Enki Bilal has created an experimental video collage of images from his three feature-length movies.
Follow the festival:
An Angoulême 2010 iPhone application will allow fans to see extracts from comic books in the official competition and vote in the public’s prize.
Social networkers will be able to follow all the action on Facebook and Twitter, and updates on the festival’s Web site will offer videos in French as well as stills.
Date created : 2010-01-28