I’ve just suggested to the good lady wife that was go for a weekend away in France for her birthday. She loved the idea. At some point I’m going to suggest that as well as walking up to Montmartre and driving through the rural countryside, we may pop down to south-west France to a little town known as Angoulème. At the beginning of every year they hold the world’s biggest comic book convention there – imagine ComicCon taking over San Diego entirely rather than just a convention centre – but now they’re making it permanent.
Today, Le Musée De La Bande Dessinée opens devoted to comics and comic books in Angoulème, and hosts the largest public collection of comic books and original comic book artwork in the world, displayed in a converted factory.
Over eight thousand examples of original artwork and over a hundred thousand comic books are avaibale to view, including substantial work from Hergé, André Franquin, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. But as well as the most classic Belgian and French comic art, American comics get their own section, including significant works from Peanuts, Superman and classic Marvel, that would shame most exhibitions just devoted to one of these topics.
Le Musée De La Bande Dessinée has been given status alongside the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles and is expected to be a tourist destination in and of its own right, bring comics tourism custom to the town outside of convention season. The museum also aims to store and archive every single comic book published in France for posterity.
As a comics exhibition comes to an end at the Louvre and highbrow Beaux Arts magazine runs a special comics edition, comics are hitting the heights of cultural elite in France that other countries can hardly dream of.
And in France that’s really saying something.
Okay. Time to try and persuade the good lady.