Legendary French cartoonist and one of the founders of L’Association, Louis Trondheim has written an open letter to the largest comics festival in the world, Angoulême, published in the major French newspaper, Le Monde yesterday.
Here is an attempt at translation.
Angouleme: Love It Or Lose It
Since time immemorial, creators have been dissatisfied with the Angoulême festival.
The publishers are dissatisfied with the Angoulême festival.
The City of Internationnale Comics and Image is dissatisfied with the Angoulême festival.
And the festival of Angoulême itself is dissatisfied with the Angoulême festival.
The authors grumble because they are wasting their time, their work does not advance during this period, they are not paid, they do not have time to see the exhibitions, they fail to get back to work immediately upon returning home, and there are plenty who moan just because they are not invited.
The editors grumble because they lose tens or even hundreds of thousands of Euros every year.
They all moan because they have no voice at the event.
They all moan because the Angoulême Festival is the only national media window on comics. And we can still not do without it.
The mayor of Angoulême and the President of the General Council shoot themselves in the feet and the FIBD and Cité foot soldiers in without taking care of their real responsibilities, to bang your fist on the table and get everyone to work together.
Awards have the parasites of by sub-awards to please the sponsors. We now have the crime prize. Why not western, or science fiction?
Has an award from Cannes ever come from L’Oreal, Renault or Electrolux?
And there is the FNAC award. Woe to the album that this award because it will not be able to compete in the race for the prize for best album!!
There is the Youth Award awarded by a jury of young readers.
Make a good comic for children is as difficult as making a good comic book, full stop. Why do they get a different jury?
And the Grand Prix!
I was flattered to have been chosen by my peers, I thank them, but I am ashamed to receive the award before Munoz, before Blutch, before Spiegelman, before Chris Ware, before Bill Watterson, before Otomo, Toriyama, Tatsumi, Binet, F’murrr, and many more …
When I see that, during deliberations, many of my colleagues do not know most of these names, nor their work, nor even want to hear about a Japanese writer, I am ashamed! And I tell myself I can not do the job that I was nominated, that is to say, vote for an author whose work has made major contributions to the development of comics.
That’s why I left the deliberations this year and I will not return while we still have the current method of selection.
For two years, it was just the creators who voted. And they chose Goossens and Crumb. I would have more confidence in this method of selection than current, whatever the qualities of selected authors. I repeat to make it clear that this is not considered an attack against individuals, Jean-Claude Denis, Baru, Dupuy and Berberian and I would not have been appointed before many others. This does not mean that I don’t think there is tremendous qualities in these authors, especially myself, I’m really good at playing squash.
So go ahead and bitch, it’s the French thing to do, that provides relief, but contributes nothing.
So I propose some changes.
For the Grand Prix.
A vote by all the creators.
A vote by all the creators to give a short list of three names from which the Grand Prix Academy will choose from. There might even be time to see read some of the works in question. And if a work isn’t up to scratch, it would be dismissed.
For the Awards
The current president should also be president of the jury.
With six members should be the same, as currently composed (two journalists, two librarians and two creators.)
We’ll lose the price sponsors and we integrate the Youth Award or any public awards into the rest of the selection.
We stop the silly names like “intergenerational” planned in advance, the jury elects the best albums of the year and, if really necessary, the jury can choose a specific title award for each book, to meet the booksellers and FNAC who are in need of these kind of hooks.
For the Festival.
Mounting and unmounted the tents cost a fortune, between one and two million Euros. There are plenty of Angouleme strong infrastructures capable of hosting the book signing booths. I am confident that in the Castro building and in the Museum, there is already room for this.
We’ve had enough of the old publisher booth. One bookstore (at the museum?) would sell all the creators books.
There could be a common place for all signatures.
Creators would be invited by the festival and/or publishers.
Access to signings would be free.
Books bought on site would be marked with a label, and only they could be signed.
We could brainstorm with publishers to create uniform spaces for the artists to sign in, with a maximum number of spaces. (All this would create less space, and get rid of the tents.)
There are no prizes from sponsors. But they could have exhibitions or promotions.
On Wednesday, the creators would arrive and have the time to visit all the exhibitions if they wish before the show.
And in an ideal world, they might even be paid for their work.
And again, I’m not even speaking to the festival in June.
We are the players of this tiny community with little chance of publicity, ill-considered and bring in very little money. Because of this there is little in the way of enmity and jealousy. And we all know each other a bit.
Obviously, we don’t live in an ideal world. But we can help shape our own immediate environment. The FIBD, the City, the Angoulême City Hall and the General Council can shrug their shoulders at all these proposals. I’m taking the risk of ridicule and making enemies.
Or there could be goodwill among all and open discussion.