Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Angoulême 2009 Report (2 months late!)

Boy time flies by! I was supposed to have had a couple of postings up by now! This year’s been a frantic one so far, having already been to France, America and the Canary Islands, and it’s still only March! After a 10-year absence I finally got to go back to Angoulême, Europe’s largest comics festival, in January. It was interesting to see how little had changed in the town, and felt at home straight away. Crowds were slow on the first day thanks to a national strike stopping all the trains, but things picked up as we moved into the weekend. I was there to promote the launch of Erotic Comics Volume 1 in French, published by Tabou Editions. My publisher, Thierry, was a nervous—but congenial—host as he had never exhibited at the show before and was concerned what the reaction would be. 

Erotic BD creator Xavier Duvet (left) and Tabou publisher Thierry Plee (right)

He needn't have worried, as the books sold well enough for him to return next year. The stand had a whole host of erotic comic creators including Frenchmen Xavier Duvet and the completely insane NevraX, Italian artist Giuseppe Manuta and Spaniard, Atilio Gambedotti. Best of all I got to meet one of my favourite artists, the master of bondage comics, Franco Saudelli.

Thierry gave all the artists a copy of Erotic Comics as a thank you present for all the hard signing, and Franco signed a copy of his latest edition of
The Blonde for me, which was nice.

Caught up with lots of old comic-related friends and made lots of new ones. Had a lovely lunch with French creator
Tanitoc (who I hadn't seen for nearly 10 years, and he has a new book—all about John Wilkes Booth—due soon from First Second); fellow comics historians Paul Gravett and Jean-Paul Jennequin; Lost Girls artist Melinda Gebbie and artist, colourist and general “man about town”, Jose Villarrubia.

Charlie Adlard and Sean Philips disagree about who can draw the fastest

The Hulk and Iron Man enjoy a few late night beers

Of the UK gang who were over it was great, as always, to catch-up with
Sean Phillips, Charlie Adlard, Eisner winner Nick Abadzis, Yishan Li and John and Patrice Aggs. Plus, Simon Fraser was over from New York and I hadn’t seen him in a donkey’s age (however long that is). Also got to meet a lot of interesting comics scholars such as my old pal Fredrik Strömberg (who’s writing a fantastic book on Comic Art Propaganda coming soon from Ilex), Harry Morgan, Matteo Stefanelli, Jim Wheelock and the charming Peter Maresca of Sunday Press (who I caught up with later in New York). Lovely, knowledgeable chaps all.

Bryan Talbot (middle) talks me (left) and Sue (right) though his latest book, Grandville, while some nice Scandinavians look on! (Photo: Fredrik Strömberg)

ryan Talbot was showing his latest book, Grandville, which is a action-packed, not-so-funny-animal/steampunk thriller. That’s being slightly disingenuous to it, but it is beautiful and packed full of hidden jokes and some of the worst/best puns I’ve ever read! Should be out this October from Jonathan Cape. I should be posting a review here shortly.

Popped into the awards ceremony for just enough time to see Bridgette Fontaine perform the opening act, and to see legendary mangaka Hiroshi Harata tell an amusing anecdote in Japanese, which was then translated into French (I don’t speak either language) and everyone (except me) laughed. The hosts, Depuy and Berbian co-presented the awards and there was a moving eulogy to Claude Moliterni, who died this year. Moliterni was one of the trio who helped set up Angouleme 35 years ago and the tribute to him by his remaining co-founders Francis Groux and Jean Mardikian was very moving (even with my meagre French).

Laff-riot gagster and wacky prankster Chris Ware yuks it up for the crowds in Angouleme.

Over all it was a great time and I’d forgotten how lovely the festival and the town are. I look forward to going back next year to promote Erotic Comics: Volume 2!

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

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