Laurent Queyssi writes for Bleeding Cool,
The Angoulême Comics Festival isn’t your typical comic-book convention. The publishers’ and booksellers’ booths, the exhibitions, the conferences, they don’t all take place in one single place but are spread throughout the city.
Which means walking a lot in the cold (sometimes the rain) to go from one tent (called Bulles) to another.
What could be delightful in the spring can be pretty awful in the winter weather. And this year, the vigipirate plan (the security forces response to the recent attacks in Paris) meant that every visitor had to open their bag and to be subjected to a metal detector, hence long queues for those who didn’t have a professional accreditation. There were a lot of cops everywhere.
Among the exhibitions were original pages by Bill Watterson and (sadly) scans from Jack Kirby – strange because the Museum of Bande Dessinée of Angoulême must own some Kirby original pages. The look of the latter was great, nevertheless, and was a wonderful introduction for those who didn’t know the artist.
As always, a lot of conferences were held, from topics covering comics from all over the world to Wacom tablet exhibitions. Check the full schedule here – it’s pretty busy.
The two main Bulles are the Champs de Mars – where all the big publishers (Glénat, Delcourt, Dargaud, Soleil etc) sell their books and welcome authors for signings, and the Bulle New York, near the town house – where all rest of the authors and publishers are doing the same, in smaller booths. There’s a great deal of diversity, with foreign publishers and some very interesting books on display. All in all, with its enormous publishing houses next to independent and very creative smaller publishers, the festival fulfils everyone’s tastes.
On Saturday afternoon, six hundred authors went on a kind of strike – no signing for two hours – and a march along the main street of Angoulême to express their anger against an increase of retirement contribution made unilaterally without consulting the artists. It was also a way to express concern about the future of the trade with a general impoverishment of the comic-book artists and writers in France.
The opening, on Friday, of the Etats Généraux de la Bande Dessinée, with all those in discussion present, from Ministry of Culture to artists unions, seems to be a step in the right direction…