by Alistair Dabbs

angouleme 2024 @2024 alistair dabbs
The streets of Angoulême on a calm Day 1. Just wait until the weekend: it will become mayhem.

A few sore heads were evident on Thursday, the first official day of Angoulême 2024. British artist Posy Simmonds had been awarded the festival’s top accolade, Grand Prix, the previous night as part of the opening ceremony, a stand-up event held in what can only be described as a large barn containing the longest bar in town.

Posy being unable to attend in person, she was represented by her French publisher and translator Jean-Luc Fromental, who read aloud the artist’s brief acceptance speech while swinging the Grand Prix ‘fauve’ around like a weapon. He could be found in the crowd shortly afterwards, showing off the trophy to all and sundry, and singing ‘We Are The Champions’ with British collaborator and comics historian Paul Gravett.

The opening ceremony continued with speeches by local politicians and even a junior minister for sport (Paris will host the summer Olympics this year) before increasingly thirsty attendees were released to make the quick dash across the car park to a drinks reception in the library. Hence the sore heads on Thursday morning.

Angoulême 2024 is an almost impossibly complex festival, running over four days and comprising nearly 100 conferences, workshops and lectures on the first day alone. There are a dozen major ‘official’ exhibitions, which take place in the town’s principal museum and gallery sites, plus an undetermined number of one-off special exhibitions hosted in temporary venues around town, from the central church to the local chamber of commerce.

And, of course, there are the vast marquees hoisted in various town squares in which international publishers and specialist shops sell their wares while hundreds of tired-looking authors and artists sign the books for never-ending queues of excited readers.

Fringe events have been growing in number over the years but 2024 is the first Angoulême to bless them with respectability and their own programme of fringe events. In typical mangled English, the French organisers have dubbed it ‘Future Off’ (as in ‘off’-Broadway) and tried, with little success, to corral all the fringe events into one building by the river Charente. Inevitably, this fringe programme has given rise to its own fringe-fringe – ‘Les Offs des Offs’ – which we earnestly hope will give birth to yet further mini-fringe babies in future years.

We have yet to explore any of these ‘Offs’. When we do, later this week, we’ll let you know if any turn us on.

In the meantime, this writer managed to fight his way through no less than nine of the exhibitions on the first day. Here’s a quick run-through.

Riad Sattouf: The Arab of the Future

Each Angoulême Grand Prix recipient gets to host their own show-space at the following year’s festival, and so the 2023 winner Riad Sattouf is back with a major exhibition focusing on his recently completed comic biography series ‘The Arab of the Future’.

Since Sattouf now draws almost exclusively on a computer with a Wacom tablet, most examples of his work on ‘The Arab of the Future’ are displayed around the walls as somewhat limp printouts hanging from clips, like fresh t-shirts on a washing line.

But what makes this exhibition fun is the presentation of biographical artefacts that the artist used for inspiration. The visitor can peruse shelf after shelf of family photos, pots, trinkets, toys, TV sets, the Amiga 500 his dad bought him, the Atari-XE that his grandma bought him (long after it was obsolete), and other material. The man’s obviously a hoarder.

Hiroaki Samura: Body and Swords

‘Blade of the Immortal’, published between 1993 and 2012, is considered to be Hiroaki Samura’s masterpiece, featuring a swordsman who cannot be killed and a revenge-thirsty teenager, inevitably leading to plenty of limb-slicing adventures.

This exhibition is richly packed with more than 150 examples of his original art, all in perfect condition and revealing a surprising attention to detail in his penciling if you take a moment to lean in to take a closer look. It is also a first for Angoulême in being the first significant retrospective of this pivotal artist’s work.

Nine Antico: Room With A View

Regularly featuring on the lists of prize contenders, Nine Antico is back on this year’s Official Selection shortlist too (for ‘Madonne et Putains’) and takes residence at the multi floor Hotêl St Simon gallery in Angoulême’s traditional old town – the location of last year’s exhibition by the 2022 Grand Prix winner Julie Doucet.

The exhibition includes around 200 works, plus notebooks, fanzines and personal archives. Antico herself was to be found on the top floor when we visited, talking to visitors about her inspiration as a feminist artist and author, and taking questions. Hotêl St Simon is that kind of intimate venue. Don’t be put off by the queues to get in: it’s simply that the rooms are small, and they can only let so many people in at a time.


Shin’ichi Sakamoto: Dracula, A Journey Into Darkness

Talking of odd venues, this exhibition is an immersive multimedia performance inside a deconsecrated gothic chapel attached to a school in the town centre. Animated artwork taken from Shin’ichi Sakamoto’s highly anticipated new manga ‘#DRCL: Midnight Children’ is projected around the walls and ceiling while appropriately dramatic music blasts from multiple speakers.

Sherpherdess Warriors, The Great Quest by Jonathan Garnier and Amélie Fléchais

Winner of the youth comics award in Angoulême two years ago, the ‘Shepherdess Warriors’ series created by scriptwriter Jonathan Garnier and illustrator Amélie Fléchais features its own exhibition hosted in the Youth Quarter of the town’s huge comics museum. Fans of the series can find out the inspiration behind the characters, follow their backstories and learn something about the ecological issues that underly the featured tales. As ever, they can also stamp an exhibition booklet in each room to prove they’ve been there.

Olivier Ledroit: Requiem Vampire Knight

A personal favourite, Requiem Vampire Knight is written by English comics legend Pat Mills but painted in exquisite detail by Ledroit. At last, we can get to see his original artwork close up – and it does not disappoint. The exhibition includes everything from preliminary sketches to double-page spread originals – some of which are huge – and several front covers.

Oh, there are also model mockups of characters, art from the brand-new volume 12, a reproduction of Heinrich/Requiem’s sword, a painted electric guitar and a bunch of skeletons literally spinning over the heads of visitors while heavy metal music plays in the background. And it’s all crammed into one room. What’s not to like?

Starting Lines, Slow And Steady

There is always an exhibition to focus on up-and-coming creators, held in what they call the New Creation Space. This time round, four young artists – Lisa Blumen, Nina Lechartier, Jérémy Perrodeau and Chloé Wary – were asked to ‘compete’ on the topic of a race starting line. Some took it literally with clear pen lines, others went with full painted colour. But behind each of their huge display panels you also get to see their preparatory sketches and research material, ranging from classic body studies to screen caps of hip-hop dancers.

Coming soon – An exhibition of authors in residence

The House of Authors in Angoulême provides a platform to so-called ‘artists in residence’ who come from all over the world. Its exhibition space is always a treat during the festival as you get a bit of everything. There is literally no theme. This year, visitors can sample pages by no less than 48 creators, which seems unfeasible, but they’ve done it. Nor is it just a random sampling: each creator’s mini section provides several pages of sequential art, so you get to follow 48 little stories.

Teenagers At War

This exhibition focuses on three published works on the topic of young people’s experiences of war on the front line, including the autobiographical ‘Madeleine, Résistante’ which had its own stand-alone exhibition last year. Also featured is ‘Le Combat d’Henry Fleming’ (a graphic novelisation of Crane’s ‘The Red Badge of Courage’) and ‘Le Lierre et l’Araignée’ (‘The Ivy and the Spider’, another gruesome story of The Resistance during World War II).


Even Corto Maltese needs a bit of maintenance from time to time, hence
the workmen in orange vests. It’s the salt air, you see.

Ah, that’s better.

nine antico

Nine Antico in person, talking with fans and visitors.

nine anticoCalifornia dreaming, Antico style.

house of authors angoulême 2024

All styles and nothing in particular: eye candy at the House of Authors.

monsiuer iou angoulême 2024
Familiar moment in the life of any food delivery dude, courtesy Monsieur

angoulême 2024
Projections inside the church: not scary, to be honest.

ledoit angoulême 2024
Glorious painted panels by Ledoit, plus sketches and models in the cases

ledoit angoulême 2024
Pen, paint and cartridge paper: the devil’s own brew.

samura angoulême 2024
Samura: Sex and (near) death in fantasy ancient Japan.

samura angoulême 2024
Samura gathered plenty of his painted panels and covers for the show,
not just the classic penwork.

sattouf angoulême 2024
The entrance to Sattouf’s exhibition: a temple of weirdness, leading
from Syria to France.

sattouf amiga angoulême 2024
Sattouf: Yep, that’s his Amiga 500. Is yours still in the attic?

youth exhibit angoulême 2024

Youth Exhibit: Provides lots of room to run around in, as all good kids’ exhibitions
ought to.


youth exhibit angoulême 2024Youth exhibit:The dark room will quieten them down, hopefully long enough to play the
game on the table.

Chloé Wary Angoulême 2024

Chloé Wary: Bright and breezy samples from the young artists…

chloé wary Angoulême 2024

Starting lines:… always remembering to show their workings on paper.

Grim, certainly, but this subject is important to once-occupied France.

Madeleine Riffaud angoulême 2024
These pages are from Madeleine Riffaud’s graphic novel biography. This
stuff happened.



copyright © 2024 Alistair Dabbs


  1. Thanks for the review, I’m disappointed I couldn’t go this year, so I look forward to your coverage of the following days.
    Stupid question : has Posy Simmonds published anything recently ?

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