Well I am just back from France after eight flights and two trains! Took three attempts over two days to land in Halifax due to an eastern storm. Why do they have this Festival in the middle of winter? Anyway I was an Angouleme virgin (in Paul Gravett's words) but I am now a convert. Holy crap this festival has no equivalent in North America! An entire Medieval town is taken up with an extra 200,000 people, all of them loving comics! I can't tell you how many times I stepped into a room and just felt right at home. I was invited by the Festival to participate in the buying of rights in the Licensing tent. It was a bit stressful but I got to meet so many publishers and they also wanted to know about little old me, fresh blood I guess.There has been very little North American crossover here, though met lots of North American artists who were either in Angouleme on a residency (Matt Madden, Jessica Abel, Sarah Glidden) or else signing the french editions of their books (Anders Nilsen, Adam Hines, Joseph Remnant). So the organizers are trying to change this, and I am reaping the benefits of the VIP status! After what I realize now was an uneventful flight I met Chester Brown and we rode the train together. He was reading "Jesus and the Talmud" and taking notes. I was reading the biography of Steve Jobs. Some similarities there?
After, I settled into my Medieval "Domain" outside of town. I did not use the pool for obvious reasons.
Had a great dinner with the English publishers. Emma from SelfMadeHero, James from Oni, Chris from IDW, Chris from Titan, Carol from Abrams and Mark from Archaia. It was here that I learned all about bronies. This would be a recurring theme over the next few days. Next morning bought a payphone to call the family, but there seemed to be no payphones in the entire town! Between meetings wandered the streets and took in some exhibits, including this one of Korean art:
Notice the difference between the original page and the published version. The streets on the Thursday and Friday were managable, easy to walk around.
Everywhere were references to comics. The street signs were speech balloons:
Even the luggage stores had comics...
The nights were filled with revelry. A VIP cognac party where I took a glass before they were ready and we were kicked out. Went to a swanky dinner where I felt special again. Later walked the streets. Ran into Sebastien from Reprodukt, a fabulous German publisher and he displayed his David Hasselhoff t-shirt:
Next day had meetings and checked out the Place New York, or the indie tent. But to call it a tent is misnomer. It takes up three city blocks behind the Hotel de Ville and each and every "indie" publisher in there is doing great work. Miles of them. Visited and watched artists sign:
Chester Brown at the Cornelius booth
Joseph Remnant and the French edition of Harvey Pekar's Cleveland
Adam Hines and the French edition of Duncan the Wonder Dog (apparently volume 1 of 9). Adam was also staying in my "Domain".
Bendik Kaltenborn at the Atrabile table
Real Godbout signs Red Ketchup at the Pasteque table.
And there was a different sort of cosplay:
That night met up with the Drawn and Quarterly contingent, Tracy and Julia, who took me to the Finnish booth for reindeer and vodka...
Hung out a lot with these three: Tracy Hurren and Julia Pohl-Miranda from D&Q, and future D&Q artist Sarah Glidden. Then it was more revelry, but in the Place New York itself. L'Association gave away free wine, Les Requins Marteaux had a strange duo of police men singers.
Joe Ollmann at Angouleme... That night Philippe Girard, Conundrum artist, showed up as a guest of the festival but more importantly as my translator and guide.
Saturday morning the crowds rolled in. Huge lines to get in long before the tents opened.
Hey there is Sebastien from Reprodukt front and centre.
And on the right is my hostess with the mostess, Ivanka Hahnenberger from VIP Brands, with Carol from Abrams and Chris from IDW.
Had some time off from meetings to check out some panels and shows. Saw the Anders Nilsen and Adam Hines panel, saw a Chinese painting exhibit in a yurt...
The two Brechts signing their books. Vandenbroucke was launching his first book White Cube (Bries), which was sold out by noon Saturday. Of course Evens has his books translated into English by Drawn and Quarterly.
Also stumbled upon the off site zine fair: FOFF. Like coming home.
That night Phil introduced me to the crowd from Bordeaux and we went to a punk show where we proceeded to pogo with the kids (well at least watch). Thankfully I forgot to bring my camera. We can only imagine. Tough to leave the next day:
Bye bye Angouleme... Hopefully one day I can return to a place where comics are respected, nay even revered. I just wish it wasn't during the heart of storm season on the east coast!