Opening day of this year’s FIBD in Angoulême was graced by a visit from French president Emmanuel Macron – and if the idea of Donald Trump strolling around SDCC seems unlikely, it’s not THAT unusual for FIBD. Previous French presidents have visited, but it has been more than a decade.

Predictably, the trip was not without controversy. After visiting some factories in nearby Nersac, Macron lunched with several French publishers and cartoonists, including Lewis Trondheim and Enki Bilal. The topic of the lunch was author’s rights and income, a topic much pondered here, but the real fireworks launched afterwards. Macron posed with a t-shirt that featured an altered Fauve (festival mascot) with a bloody eye and BD changed to “LBD,” a reference to the rubber bullets that police have been shooting at “Yellow vest” protesters during France’s recent unrest.

The photo instantly went viral and was the talk of the evening news here in France including this story in Le Monde, as Macron smiled besides the artist Jul. Amidst accusations of being “anti police” Macron pushed back with a defense of creativity.  (This is from Google translate, so don’t quote it for nuance.)

If he once again challenged the police violence and said he was in ”  complete disagreement  ” with Jul on this question, Emmanuel Macron did not the less react to the photo, on which he poses with a smile. “  I have to defend creativity, freedom of expression, including insolence and including the creation of artists who say things with which I do not agree, but who are there. So this is a free society and it is also because we are a free society that the President of the Republic can accept to pose with a t-shirt where there is something with which it is not of okay,  “he said before visiting an exhibit. 

Next year, comics will be the artform of the year in France, an official designation by the French government that will see much attention on BD and comics. This event is very exciting for publishers I’ve talked to, and another sign of how universal is love for the artform at this time.

Macron’s visit caused quite a bit of disruption to the festival on opening morning, with police blocking off stairs, streets and tents. At least one artist told us sales has slowed that morning because people had stayed away rather than face the security tangle.

But once the president departed, things seemed to roar back to life. The rights tent has expanded greatly since I was last here and how houses 70 booths. Business was brisk and for the first time, a full slate of business related panels is being translated into English for non-French speakers. I’ll have some statistics from a report on the state of the market in another post.

In opening remarks (also translated into English) the general international expansion of the market was highlighted:


While the international flavor here is bigger than ever, there is some muttering about the near complete absence of 2019 Grand Prix winner Rumiko Takahashi. Aside from making the adorable poster you see below and doing a videotaped talk, Takahashi-sensei is absent – not even an art show as is usual for the winner. While everyone seems to be pointing the finger at different parties for the snub, there’s no question that it is a snub from only the second woman to ever win the award. While prior winner, American Richard Corben, was unable to attend the show last year  due to health issues, there was still a robust display of his work.

After a morning tussle with a French washing machine the Beat is off for another day at the festival. More to come!





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