Relying on the old Google translate a bit here, but it looks like the 44th Festival of Comics of Angoulême has taken some steps to make sure it is not as horrible, sexist and out of touch as this year’s, an event which provided months of fodder for scorn, sarcasm and calling people “un cretin total”.

The Festival has a new artistic director, Stephane Beaujean, and he’s allowing women to vote! Actually the prize selection committee, in the past a sausage heavy fest, will have equal numbers of male and female voters. (Take that US!)

They are also starting a special selection committee to honor books for younger readers.

There will be two selection committees, one to select books for the Fauves awards (except Fauve Jeunesse) and the other to select books for youth prize (including Best Youth). The Festival will be represented by its Artistic Director in both committees, as well as its responsibility in the youth sector in the Youth Selection Committee.
As before, the other members of these committees will be specialists of comics. – Booksellers, journalists cf. lists below

Beaujean is a well rounded comics loving type who I met at TCAF a few years ago – I believe he goes every year –  will “in freedom and independence,” head up programming, hopefully leading to a more balanced agenda. This years committee consists of

Stéphane Beaujean – Artistic Director – FIBD – 9eArt +
Romain Brethes – Journalist – Point
Guillaume Dumora – Bookseller – The Monte in the air 
Valérie Mangin – author
Jean Pierre Mercier – Scientific Advisor – CIBDI
Thi Nguyen – Bookseller – Canal BD
Anne Claire Norot – Journalist – Les Inrockuptibles

As this year’s fest, as you may recall, the outrages came fast and furious, from the all male Grand Pix nominee list to Festival President Frank Bondoux claiming there aren’t any great women cartoonists, to the awards ceremony staging a horrible joke ceremony which led people to text and tweet that they had won, only to find i was a humiliating prank.

The 2016 festival was a complete disaster in terms of modernizing and globalizing French comics, and French publishers – who are eager to reach worldwide markets –  took it as such am embarrassment that they called for a boycott of the festival and the removal of Bondoux. I’m told a secret plan circulated to move the fest to a different city, as well, a move which actually happened in the past becuase of similar complaints.

While I’m not sure what became of Bond villain Bondoux, it does sound like things will be a bit more inclusive and modern this year. The 44th FiBD takes place January 26-29, under the guidance of Grand Priz winner Hermann, whose festival defining poster will soon be revealed.


  1. > The 2016 festival was a complete disaster

    Sure, but I’ve not seen the actual reasons widely reported on U.S. sites.

    * The FIBD festival was created by AFIBD, its owner.
    * In 2007, AFIBD farmed it out to 9eArt+ (Franck Bondoux) for 10 years. Escalating problems ensued.
    * In 2015, AFIBD notified 9eArt+ the contract wasn’t renewed. But 9eArt+ claimed a technicality renewed it for 2017–2027.

    (AFIBD had the support of City Hall and the Ministry of Culture for dismissing 9eArt+, but not the funds for legally challenging what the local press called a hold-up on the festival.)

    And now for the important bit:

    * Before 2016, the nom list was decided by the Grand Prize Academy (all its living recipients).
    * In 2016, 9eArt+ unilateraly decided to make it themselves. The result (allegedly concocted by Bondoux using sales data from the major publishing groups) was the first ever all-male list.

    It seems a certain press’s appetence for clickbait and French-bashing sold the sexist decision of one private (and possibly illegitimate) actor as an act of the whole festival and BD scene, and the rest is rewritten history!

    There’s an October 2015 summary of this provincial affair (with links to various relevant articles) at http://www.actuabd.com/Festival-d-Angouleme-la-legitimite

  2. First the “secret plan to move the fest to a different city” : definitely a hoax. The Angoulême festival was created and is still run by an association (not for profit organization) located in Angoulême. So really, if it were in a different city, then it would be a different festival, not the Angoulême Festival. In 1989 and 1990, an attempt was made to create a rival festival in Grenoble, headed by the former head of Angoulême, but that was clearly a rival thing, not the real thing.

    While Simon has the dates right, he has the facts wrong. The organization of the Festival was not “farmed out” to 9e Art+. 9e Art+ was created by Franck Bondoux as a private company because the Association that was running the Festival was not-for-profit, a statute too limiting for an event that had grown that big. 9e Art+ hired all the people who were until then working for the association and a contract was signed between the two parties that guaranteed 9e Art+ would operate the Festival for a certain number of years (not ten, I think). Well, it makes sense doesn’t it? If you create an ad hoc company, incorporate it and hire people to keep on doing the job they were doing, wouldn’t you want to make sure the organization who’s going to give you your only economic activity will guarantee that you can do what you were created for for a minimum number of years?

    It seems to me that aspect of the situation is not understood even by comics professionals – there aren’t a zillion event-organizing companies vying for the organization of the Angoulême Festival. One of the many reasons why it’s still in charge is because… there’s no one else. 9e Art+ was created specifically for that purpose.

    AFIBD did not want to dismiss 9e Art+ in 2015 but renegotiate the contract. Would Simon be kind enough to tell us who could have taken over the organization of the Festival if 9e Art+ had indeed been “dismissed”?

  3. Here’s what I know, having just returned from France, where this was a hot topic among comics folk.

    Stéphane Beaujean is a great choice as artistic director. he runs the Aaapoum Bapoum comics store in Paris (one of my faves) and is universally respected and (more importantly) knowledgeable about all things comics.

    Franck Bondoux is still the overall director of Angoulême. He owns the festival, so he’d be impossible to remove, and the word is he’s actually quite good at organization and fund-raising. No one has a problem with him remaining in that role. They just want to insure he never speaks publicly again, or has any say at all in artistic matters at the Fest.

    I’m also confident, given the reaction by horrified French folk, that the utter debacle of the Faux Awards will not be repeated.

    The real battle, which is ongoing, is between the big mainstream publishers and the smaller indie ones. The big boys feel that they should be the ones calling all the shots, because of their sales. They want Angoulême to be more tailored to them, which would also impact foreign authors, because those are published by the indies. The big guys are also doing a slow burn because they seldom win prizes. Sounds a lot like the recent Eisners, no? It’s just like Marvel vs. Drawn & Quarterly. The indie publishers are pushing back, and the press and creators are definitely on their side.

    I suspect this will all be worked out to the point of an uneasy truce. A bigger question is, will terrorism concerns continue to impact the fest? Attendance has been WAY down the past two years.

  4. Good to see all major points confirmed. As for the small potatoes:

    * The so-called “Angoulême festival” remains officially the FIBD (International Festival of BD). It could be moved somewhere else and still be the FIBD, just as Comic-Con could move out of San Diego.

    * 9eArt+ was awarded a service-provider contract to organize a festival owned by AFIBD. That’s good enough to call it farming out.

    * 9eArt+ was awarded a no-bid contract in 2007, making it easy to pretend there’s no one else. AFIBD dismissed them to open both options of renegotiating and possibly tendering the contract. Besides, why would 9eArt+ have used such a heavy-handed legal artifice of hijacking another 10 years if no competition was possible?

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