by Jeremy Melloul

The 46th Angouleme International Comics Festival is now over. I’m back in Paris, enjoying a couple days of rest here before returning to Los Angeles.

This was my third time at the festival and my best experience there yet, in large part because of the people I know there now and the work I’ve done over the last few years as a comic book translator.

But there was also a really positive and heartening undercurrent of change and connection that helped me enjoy the festival this year.

Rumiko Takahashi’s Grand Prix win seems long overdo and I can’t wait see her exhibit next year. The show has come a long way rather quickly from the issues it dealt with regarding its lack of representation during my first year. And, fortunately, they only seem to be picking up more speed.

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Angoulême has clearly been moving in a direction in which they’ll celebrate and recognize comics of diverse, international origins. I believe this globalization of the show will help facilitate connection and collaboration on a large scale across national and language boundaries. This is also the first year that the Angouleme Twitter account shared news from the show live in English and I hope they continue this initiative and do a better job making their site and materials available in a variety of languages.

I also can’t ignore how well American comic books were represented this year. It’s hard for me not to pay particular attention to these works and creators while at the show because they are a part of the same industry I work in and they tend to be the comics and people that I’m most familiar with.

While I only ran into a couple of them I noticed that were many creators present at the festival this year who work primarily in the American comic book market. This includes:

Alberto Ponticelli, Joshua Dysart, Jock, Andy Diggle, Charlie Adlard, Terry Moore, Frank Miller, and, I’m sure, many more.

While there are always a contingent of creators present, this year it felt like there were more and when you also take into account the increased presence of publishing professionals from American companies in the rights & licensing tent (which has more than doubled in size from last year) there was an enthusiasm around the opportunities for American comics’ abroad that felt greater than it had in previous years.

This was, of course, helped by the fact that several American comic creators were honored with awards. Most notably, I think, Emil Ferris (“My Favorite Thing is Monsters”), Jen Wang (“The Prince and the Dressmaker”), and Frank Miller (“Batman: Year One,” “Sin City,” “300”).

Plus, I can’t forget to mention the Batman: 80 Years exhibition, which recreated key scenes from the Batman narrative universe, from the alley Bruce’s parents were murdered in to the iconic batcave, and spotlighted his iconic character across his many different representations in media.

The line was constantly a 2-3 hour wait throughout the weekend so as much as I regret not going I’ll have to content myself to the pictures shared online and hoping for the opportunity to see something similar in the future (perhaps in 20 years?).

 

 

 

 

Looking ahead to 2020 and the years to come, I’d love to see this frontier continue to expand, with an exchange of stories and ideas in both directions and not only with America.

There was an increased representation of Asian comics – a growing trend here over the last few years – even despite the unfortunate placement of the new, larger “Manga City” tent (it was the furthest thing to visit – a solid 20-30 minute walk from the center of town).

Comics and creators from Japan were in attendance as usual. But there were also creators from South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Taiwan and Hong Kong were both represented with displays in the Manga City tent and their own booths in the Rights & Licensing market, space which they utilized to spotlight notable, talented artists whose work we will hopefully get more opportunities to enjoy in the future.

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If you ever have the opportunity to come to this show, I highly recommend that you take it. Not only is there the fun, social side of the show – similar to any convention, except improved for being in France – but there’s also the revelatory, professional side that will never fail to expand your worldview of what comics are and can be.

Of course, it will still leave you exhausted, like I am now.

But, at least, I have some time to rest now that the show is over and I’ve finished writing these reports back to you. I hope in sharing my thoughts and experiences from the festival over the last several days you’ve become more excited about the global world of comics and what the future might hold.

I recorded several interviews for my podcast, Creator At Large, while I was there which will be uploaded in a special “Angouleme Special Feature” set of episodes so if you want to continue to immerse yourself in the festival come and have a listen.

As for the rest of you, I hope to see you in France next year!

Best,

Jeremy

[Check out Jeremy’s podcast on the business of comics at The Creator at Large.]

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