FIBD #45 is just a memory now but it seems to be a pleasant one for most people who attended. The hanging out and eating wonderful three hour dinners was just fine, as usual, but the show had none of the mortifying faux pas of the past few years and serious things were taken seriously.
In addition, as I heard from several people, it was just a good con Attendance was up, although no precise figures were given. Sales were good, and the manga tent was jammed every day due to the presence of two international superstars, Naoki Urasawa and Fairy Tale’s Hiro Mashima.
Next year’s focus will be American comic books, including Grand Prix winner Richard Corben. And the manga guest will be Taiyo Matsumoto (Sunny). Book your chateau now!
Saturday, as at most cons is the busiest day, as busloads of kids and famlies seemed to have descended on the town. My crew stayed in until about noon, perhaps the happiest morning of my life, as I took a hot shower in the “rain bath” my room at the villa was equipped with. I had a meeting with editor Basile Béguerie of Casterman where we talked about this and that and perhaps some secret projects. He filled me in on some of the issues facing the French market and I did the same for the US.
Next, being a brave soul I decided to wander around the “Big Tent” for a bit to soak up the crowds (very crowded) and try to get a “dedication” from Fabien Vehlmann who was signing at Dupuis. Vehlmann – the writer of The Last Days of an Immortal, Beautiful Darkness, Satania, Isle of 100,000 Graves (with Jason) and the French hits Green Mansion and Seul (Alone) – is even in translation one of my favorite comcis authors. Truth be told, he and Naoki Urasawa (DUH) are the creators I would most like to have met.
I had seen someone who LOOKED like Vehlmann in the bar at Le Mecure the previous night, but it seemed the height of rudeness to go up to someone involved in a conversation and ask in English “Are you Fabien Vehlmann?” I was hoping I could maybe get a book signed and at least say I’d met him.
Also, I was curious about the whole signing process, and hoped that since Vehlmann isn’t an artist, the line would be manageable.
In retrospect this ws an idiotic plan. The lines at FIBD make San Diego look very calm, although there aren’t riots that I was told of, there have been rules about camping out and so on. But it didn’t matter. A bunch of very popular kids book authors wer signing (some of those involved with the New Marsupilami, I believe) and it was a madhouse.
Just to prove that it was not meant to be, Vehlmann was also at the VERY END of the line and I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of him to see if that had indeed been him in the bar.
Total fail, but my chance will come some day!
The crowds at the Monde des Bulles were so bad I ditched it for my next meeting, a presentation and cocktail party thrown by Kickstarter at the Magic Mirror.
Although it sounds like just another bar, The Magic Mirror is actually a space that young authors DEMANDED be built! They wanted a place where they could hang out just with other authors – an alternative to The Mercure, where all the publishing types hang out, and Le Chat Noir where a lot of older creators hang out.
The French being the French, instead of just setting aside some room, they procured what appears to be a mobile circus tent made of velvet and heavy wood – I think it must have housed a merry go round at one point. It’s also incredibly exclusive Unless you have a creator or VIP badge you are NOT ALLOWED IN. It rages until 4 in the morning with dancing, singing and general carrying on. Not even as a +1. It’s like the Trickster area San Diego had for a few years but on magic mushrooms.
This magical Kickstarter’s Margot Atwell gave a presentation on Kickstarter for French creators; while French finance laws make crowdfunding a little harder, over 34 million€ has been pledged on over 900 Kickstarter projects in France, with 71% of the backers of French projects from OUTSIDE France. Atwell ran through the stages of a Kickstarter project and had a line of people who wanted to know more when she finished.
A lot of the English speaking crew I hadn’t seen most of the show arrived including Chris Butcher and Andrew Woodward-Butcher, Kinokuniya’s Terrence Irvins, translator Jeremy Mellouf, and some of the Swedish delegation from the night before. It was definitely a merry time, with the business side of the show ended except for the awards.
I’ve already listed the winners, but the awards ceremony was sober and dignified, starting with an “In Memorium” that included Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. Two artists on stage sketched o an iPad with the results projected as a backdrop. Festival president Stephane Beaudoin was the MC and the presenters were a mix of genders and races as best could be done. (The French comics world seems to have even fewer creators of color than US comics, if you can believe it.) Here’s a news video from Channel 3 on the big prize winner.
Following the awards most of our group reconvened, however a near fatal error: no dinner reservations had been made, Angouleme is a small town and after the awards all the big publishers skedaddle to pre-arranged dinners. Like typical Americans we figured we’d just wander around and find a place to eat – but the reservation wasn’t for another two hours. Oh well this meant a lot more socializing and perhaps drinking some excellent white wine. All of the venues for socializing were hopping until the small hours, I hear. Like every con Saturday it’s for hanging out.
Sunday, I raced around to see the Tezuka exhibit – which was incredible – then lunch with Chip Mosher and the Thought Bubble crew, over from Leeds and their heads swimming with ideas after seeing FIBD. I wrapped it up with a return to pick up a few books atLe Nouveau Monde tent and a final blast around the “merch tent” which sells “stuff” – old albums, Captain Haddock bottle toppers and even Funko Pops. Only one Funko Pop booth though.
While I pointed out that my lack of French language skills means that I was left out of the French comics gossip, Actualitte has an interview with president Beaudoin that wraps up this year’s fest very well even through the lens of Google Translate. And it appears that with the blockbuster manga guests, even Angoulême has the problem of US cons: TOO MANY PEOPLE AND NOT ENOUGH ROOM. Beaudoin:
The real problem that will arise is to ensure that we can absorb all the festival-goers. This year, we found that all our spaces were saturated. This will be part of our first reflections for next year: we have reached our capacity threshold, and this will result in a halt of new projects or a new infrastructure plan. As is, we have filled the city to the point that it seems difficult to welcome more people next year. “
And this BOMBSHELL:
Some publishers had however suggested that, the festival making paying the access to the bubbles,
Okay what that actually meant is that its being discussed to charge admission to the tent with the big publishers – Glenat, Delcourt, Casterman, Dupuis, Rue de Sevre, Panini etc. I suspect this will go against the French spirit of socialism, although a lot of cons around Europe DO charge. Anyway changes,
I have at least one day of Paris and final thoughts for one more post (if you aren’t sick of this already), but as one person put it, “The Festival has been around for 45 years but its organized as if it was in its second year.” Everyone I dealt with did an outstanding job, but there is still a seat of the pants quality to a lot of the planning that would induce heart attacks in American show runners. In the above interview Beaudoin mentioned planning the show over 7 months instead of 2, so this is very much on the mind of organizers.
Still, good times and good comics.
Like I said one more final photo post and a report on the comics of Paris. Here’s a few pics from Friday-Sunday.
Inside the Urasawa exhibit. For those not already on the train/cult, his book, Pluto is probably the best place to start.
Incredible dinner at Bistrot 41 with the Scarce crew. Left to right: pumpkin soup with fig ice cream; pigeon in pastry; some kind of duck presentation; my dessert, a poached pear with more ice cream, garnished with citrus and oatmeal. It was all amazing.
The dinner crew. I’m sure Xavier will do the ID honors.
Piscou was very popular.
I tried to make a movie of the Bulles crowd but its too big to post on this connection. Later. This is where the night life goes down.
Heavy fog rolled in Saturday night!
Sunday morning: walking from our villa to the festival I finally saw the Corto Maltese statue along the Charente River.
I have always loved Tezuka.
I also saw the Sonny Liew exhibit for a trifecta of Tezuka influenced art and great cartoonists.
Inside the merch tent. The French love silly crap just like us!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.