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January 31, 2011

Angoulême, mon amour

So there's this dinky little comics convention that happens in a horribly unattractive town in France every now and then. Hardly anyone attends. I mean, the French just hate comics -- I never met a nation less interested in the medium.

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And the food, guys, the food is awful.

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Oh, ha ha ha, I'm so funny! It's opposites day! Or possibly I'm just really jet lagged and still a little bit hung over!

BIEN ALORS:

The organizers of the mighty Angoulême International Comics Festival very kindly invited a number of American, Canadian, and British editors to attend this year's show, to see what all the fuss is about and meet our European counterparts. 

It's a remarkable show.

The festival takes over this cute little southern town completely -- tents are set up throughout the public spaces of the city and local institutions like the city hall and pretty much every bar and restaurant are co-opted by the fans and professionals attending the event.

The obvious question on everyone's minds was "how does it compare?" How does the French comics scene compare to the English-language comics scene? How does Angoulême compare to San Diego? Everyone has a different answer to this, but I guess as far as I can tell, it's mostly a question of scale. The ratio of dreck to the sublime seems to be about the same in both industries; but there's so much MORE of everything in the Franco-Belgian scene. More dreck, but also more -- and a greater variety -- of the really good stuff.

There are certain respects in which Angoulême and San Diego are eerily similar, however:

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Like the big shows that I've been to in the US, this show was a lot of work: many, many meetings; lots of running around; technology always malfunctioning; constantly being late or lost; lots of social events; lots of booze; almost no sleep. And like the big shows in the US, it was exhilirating. What a pleasure, always, to be surrounded by enthusiastic hoards who share your idiosyncratic passions.

And let's not forget the nightlife. Ben Hatke, this one's for you:

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Stumbling through town at about midnight on Saturday, we came across this young lady fire-dancing and fire-breathing to an accompaniment of charming French accordians and drunken hollering from the crowd. Nobody got incinerated, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

I would have been more impressed, but I had just spent the evening in the company of a group of wonderfully talented cartoonists, editors, artists, and writers, including two First Second creators, Molly Crabapple and Tanitoc.

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First Second has always had a strong emphasis on the global aspect of our list: bringing great graphic novels from all over the world to American readers. To me, now, that mission seems both more vital and more daunting: having experienced firsthand the enormous wealth and richness of the comics culture in Europe, I feel a little lost in the abundance of beauty.

Also, I met Moebius.

!!!

Well, no post about a trip to a charming European town would be complete without some gratuitous "look at how charmingly European everything is!" photos, so here are two for your delectation.

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~fin~

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Comments

the link is broken

Hi there !

I remember telling you (it was you, right ? I remember telling _someone_) I'd send you the link to the song that was being played for that firedancer.

It's "Les Hurlements d'Léo" by the band "Les VRP"

Here is a youtube link, but it's kind of NSFW (is this the right place to post this kind of thing ? I didn't know where else to find you online) :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsLW5xNYZeQ

And here are the lyrics :
http://www.mp3lyrics.org/l/les-hurlements-dleo/leo/

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