Striptacular 2 – Angouleme Special
Back in 2009 an intrepid band of 10 British cartoonists decided that they were going to visit Angouleme, the pinnacle of Euro-Comics festivals. Not only that, but they decided to exhibit there, amongst the great and the good of Euro-Comics royalty.
An anthology was created (B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. – reviewed here) and they were off. Oh, except instead of ten, this valiant bunch were whittled down to just 4, with lack of money, job conflicts jobs and (I’m guessing here in the case of Schurmgen Jonarhoffs) being a made up character the main reasons.
(Many were chosen, but just four made the epic trip. Onwards you B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. to Angouleme.)
But off they went anyway; Francesca Cassavetti, Sean Azzopardi, Oliver Lambden and Dan Lester. Ready to take on the greatest comic festival in the world. Striptacular 2 recounts their adventures; finding a place to stay (and finding the place they were staying), the perils of getting veggie food in France (pizza and lots of it), the wonders of Angouleme, selling comics in a foreign language, meeting comic heroes (Crumb, Moebius, Joe Sacco, Ivan Brunetti), having comic heroes reject your work (Lewis Trondheim – “Pas Pour Moi” – ouch) and much more.
(Selling comics at Angouleme – seems Sean Azzopardi has it all under control)
Travelogue, diary and journal of a grand adventure, Striptacular 2 is lots of fun and flows along really nicely, full of those beautifully observed little moments that Cassavetti always seems to be able to get down on the comic page so well as she pays as much attention to everything around the festival and her fellow B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. as she does the festival itself.
(The 6 panel Aftermath pages – tighter and crisper Cassavetti artwork compared to the 4 panel Angouleme pages)
But as much as I enjoyed Striptacular, there was a slight nagging thought in my mind all along that it was all a little too rushed. Cassavetti’s artwork, usually so impressively flowing just felt a little too rough here.
I know the Striptacular book was put together quickly between the gang coming back from Angouleme and now, but I can’t help but think a little more time would have made the book a lot better. Or maybe, given that her Aftermath strips are much neater and tighter, it’s just that her 4 panel Angouleme strips are just a touch too big and the 6 panel size of Aftermath suits her art better?
Despite that little concern, Striptacular is still well worth picking up for a unique British self publisher’s view on a marvellous comic experience.
(The B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. at Angouleme – proof that Cassavetti hasn’t just made the whole thing up! Top photo: Lester, Cassavetti, Azzopardi, Ellen Lindner. Bottom photo; Abby Denson, Cassavetti, Lambden, Lester, Azzopardi.)
Cassavetti’s website is here, her blog here and the B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. blog is here. All of our previous coverage of Cassavetti’s excellent work is here – might I particularly recommend the excellent “The Most Natural Thing In The World“.