The TGV train pulls into Angoulême and the first thing you encounter upon leaving the station is an obelisk covered with speech balloons from Asterix and Lucky Luke, dedicated to Goscinny – “Par Jupiter!”, its good to be back at the legendary festival, you really feel plunged into comics from the minute you arrive!
This year even more of the town has been decorated with bandes dessinées banners and colourful cartoon characters covering everything from electrical substations and entire gable ends to recycling bins, the streets are alive with comics.
This years exhibitions are as varied and plentiful as anyone who appreciates original comic art could possibly hope for. Two giants of BD feature prominently; Hermann, the Belgian president of this years festival gets a huge retrospective in the excellent Espace Franquin,”Le Naturaliste de la Bande Dessinée” is the tag line for this astonishing show looking at the 50+ years Hermann has been producing page after page of beautiful comics.
Meanwhile, a world premiere of the Luc Besson adaptation of Mezieres and Christin’s epic space opera Valerian was happening across town at the Mediatheque. The third major exhibition was the highlight (as well as the excellent bookshop!) at the legendary Musee de la bande dessinée d’Angoulême. In this, Will Eisner’s centenary, was held a massive, expertly curated exhibition, spanning the career of the hugely influential cartoonist. Adorning the walls of the shadowy atmospheric and moodily lit interactive show were what must have been literally millions of dollars worth of Eisner originals – phew!
American comic art had strong representation at this years Festival with “La French Touch De Marvel” in the lovely cellar like basement gallery of the Theatre d’Angoulême, which acknowledged the increasing amount of work that Marvel is commissioning from French artists. Plus, the Vaisseau Moebius hosted “Les Nouveax Visages de Mickey Mouse”, which concentrated on some of the more liberal and entertaining re-imaginings of the mouse that are coming out largely from IDW publishing, but are clearly resonating with the European comic aficionados!
Manga, Manwha and Asian comic art had an equally weighty presence with exhibitions Kazuo Kamimura at the Musée, and Loo Hui Phang in the Espace Franquin as well as numerous mini shows and pop ups at the Monde Des Bulles 2. Taiwanese comics were the main feature here, and the many represented artists demonstrated clearly that this is a very new and different kind of comics coming out from Asia with the styles echoing western indie comics as much as traditional manga.
As always the delightful Maison Des Auteurs had a fantastic exhibition, this years was entitled Strip Art, and just down the road the Paper Museum held a show by Croatian artist in residence Miroslav Sekulic-Struja. Two other worthy mentions were the Knock Outsider Komics show at Hotel Saint Simon, and across Rue Hergé a fantastic Vaughan Bode environment with real Bode graffiti adorning the neighbouring buildings and an appearance by son and torch bearer Mark.
TO BE CONTINUED…