It was the best and worst of festivals at Angoulême this year. On the one hand, it was logistically chaotic because the exhibitor’s space had been moved to the suburb of Montauzier, a half-hour walk away from the city centre, with no restaurants, no cash machine, no trashcans, and no soul. Most of the debit for this bizarre attempt to have it both ways can be laid squarely at the doorsteps of City Hall. The same people who are obliterating one of the town’s two central squares with a butt-ugly shopping mall.
On the other hand, the festival was a triumph for comics as an art form, credit for which can pretty much totally be laid at the feet of this year’s president, Lewis Trondheim. He reformed the awards and contributed to giving them to a selection of high-quality comics, he decided to give us a gorgeous Jim Woodring-exhibition instead of the traditional retrospective normally accorded to the president (we would also have liked to see that…), he was a constant, animating presence at the festival, day and night, and it was on his watch that José Muñoz was finally awarded the Grand Prix.