From Our Continental Correspondent – Angoulème, day 2
A standing man, lots of animals and comics coming to life – a sunny day at the Angoulême comics festival.
The weather cleared completely today, and we had sun all day, which resulted in a relaxed, spring-like atmosphere. People were sipping their coffee on the terraces, smoking their Gitanes and generally using a joyful tone when bitching about the intrinsic values of this or that comic. We are in France, after all.
We spent the day at a few of the exhibitions the festival boasts. At the CIBDI all eyes were on the show that festival presidents Dupuy and Berbérian had put on. They focused on their special relationship when it comes to creating comics. Most duos have quite strict roles for artist and writer, but with D&B the distinctions are a bit more blurred. Both contribute to the story, write the plot and the dialogue, and contribute to the art, albeit separately.
(one of the artworks on display from Dupuy and Berberian; click on the pic to see the larger image on the FPI Flickr stream)
When looking at the original art from Le Journal d’un Album, which was on display in its entirety, it became clear how distinct their respective styles are, even when it comes down to what materials to use and which paper size to draw on. It’s amazing to see how they manage to create a book that is so coherent and tight, while being so different as artists.
Even though the show included original art from all books D&B worked on, together or separately, and an ample selection of their illustrative work for magazines like Details or the New Yorker, the best part in my opinion was the room in which they had arranged a selection from their own collection. Both Dupuy and Berbérian are avid comic fans themselves, and have collected original art from all the greats. Pages and sketches by Jijé, Bara, Serge Clerc, Seth, Giraud, Chris Ware, Blex Bolex and an obscene number of others grace the walls, with the Batman pages that Berbérian’s colleagues did for his fortieth birthday as the cherry on the cake. Just imagine what Batman would look like if it was drawn by Loustal, David B, Kilofer, Menu or Léwis Trondheim.
I also visited a few other exhibitions today, notably the exhibition Jeunes Talents, which showed the results of the yearly comics competition for young creators (basically, below 20). It is simply awe-inspiring to see how even kids as young as 9 seem to grasp the idea of style, and limit their art to the rules of their style (quite intuitively, no doubt, but still). One page showed a dragon fighting a knight with his fiery breath, to reveal in the last panel that he liked his meat well-cooked. It’s an old joke, and the art was quite clumsy, but it was executed with such panache that it could very easily have been a page by an established author.
(Petis-Pois Man by Vincent Vaut, click for the larger pic on our Flickr stream)
The best pages, in my opinion, were done by Cécile Bidault, David Carron and by winner Vincent Caut (who, incidentally, also was one of the runners-up in the Blog Revelation competition). Caut participated in the competition for the 15-16 year-olds, and I almost couldn’t believe that this was the Vincent Caut whose blog I have been reading avidly for the past year. (btw – I will do a write-up of the current French comics blog scene as soon as possible, as there are some quite exciting things happening there).
Not part of the official line-up, but very impressive nevertheless, was a show at the Maison Du Peuple et de la Paix (House of the People and Peace) with art from the book “A thousand and one beasts” by local artist Julie M (which is published by local publisher Scutella). This book is a collection of hilarious scenes involving all kinds of cute animals, and is aimed at very young readers. The exhibition as well is organized in a fashion that kids can enjoy it: all pages have been mounted in original and in reproduction, with the originals quite low to the ground; you can see a short interview with the artist here. Here’s a book that should break through internationally, and a travelling exhibition that will delight young and older viewers (more info on the exhibition and the book can be found here.)
Final day tomorrow, in which we will sail against the tide of the masses of collectors and signature hunters. A demain, mes amis…
“Vacances A Saint-Prix” is a great little book written by cartoonist Christian Flamand, with his son Julien providing the art, about his youth, and especially the holidays he spent with his grandmother in the country in the sixties. I haven’t read it all the way through, but you can expect a review in the weeks to come.
The official soundtrack of the festival (except for the press room) is nothing but cool jazz, which adds a little je ne sais quoi to a horde of fanboys rushing from one signing session to another. Even the Solleil booth, which normally plays pumping techno and metal, stuck to cool lounge music.
You can buy a complete run of Roberta Gregory’s Naughty Bits for a mere 15 Euro’s at a French festival, if you know where to look. And if that is your thing, of course.