Angoulême 2010: Aftermath

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Right. Sunday at the Angoulême festival is always a bit of a wash when one lives abroad and hasn’t booked another night in France, but now it’s Monday and here are some thoughts on the festival as a whole.

The policy of announcing the festival awards and the Grand Prix winner on Sunday afternoon, instated last year, has removed a significant element of excitement from the festival — not only does it negate the popular rush to acquire the winning books from the publishers’ tents and make the awards ceremony an event an afterthought rather than a centerpiece, it removes from the awards an element of discourse and sense of import for the guests that might not compare with the Monday morning press, but surely still counts for something, seeing that it’s visited by some 200.000 people.

Angoulême 2010: Saturday

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Reporting live from the Angoulême festival: Saturday is here and its been a busy day. Crowded as usual, negotiating the often tight exhibition spaces and lecture theaters can be trying, but is certainly worth it. We started the day at the new comics center, which I must say is amazing. Under new directorship and with a spacious new scenically situated in a row of refurbished and expanded row of factory buildings across the river, this is a major upgrade that the long ailing institution sorely needed.

The central space presents the history of Franco-Belgian and American comics in a set of serpentine display cases that mix original pages and publications as well as video and other material. Their collections are amazing, including originals from most of the major artists, from Saint Ogan to Caniff, from Franquin to Chris Ware. A just objection would be that the presentation ignores other parts of the world. There is a section with a short history on manga, but it is rather meager and includes no originals. Something to work on for the museum.

Angoulême 2010: Friday

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Reporting live from the Angoulême festival: The rain didn’t keep people away. Friday has been fairly busy, with the exhibition areas and tents filled as usual with a broad, heterogenous audience. I spent the day taking in various exhibitions and browsing the exhibitors’ tables in the alternative tent, ending my day of programming by attending the on-stage interview with comics autobiographer Fabrice Neaud.

Neaud’s approach to autobiography is at once intensely personal and political, drawn realistically with a nigh-unflinching portrayal of his emotional life as well as his interaction with friends, strangers, lovers. Neaud candidly discussed his views on ‘right of the image’ and the notion that one has the prerogative to control representations of oneself, even if they’re based on public appearances. Neaud has suffered the consequences of representing people in this way both in lost friendships and physical hurt. A hurt that has forced him to reconsider his approach to his work, if not actually stopping him, and has made him want to leave his hometown from fear of reprisal, and it has embroiled him in a draining lawsuit.

Angoulême!

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Here we are! The FIBD is now alive and somewhat kicking. Thursday was somewhat drizzly and we didn’t manage to take in a whole lot of it, since we arrived and got installed somewhat late. Today looks promising though — time to take in some of the fine-looking exhibitions, I think, and the cruise for comics in the alternative tent.

Above: first look: Moebius wacom’ing in the main tent. Always here, always great to see him!

Picks of the Week

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The picks of the week from around the web.

  • London Review of Books: “The Darwin Show” Steven Shapin examines the phenomenon that was the Darwin year, the multifarious contexts in which Darwin takes centre stage these years, as well as the man and his work in this bravura effort.
  • David Bordwell: “Kurosawa’s Early Spring”. A reluctant if incisive analysis of Kurosawa’s early work and his innovations in editing. A fine start to the Kurosawa centenary this year.
  • Tom Spurgeon: “A Blind Man’s Elephant in the Room”. If you hadn’t noticed, this is a golden age for the comic book medium. Spurgeon points to the obvious we might have missed in this invigorating essay.