<** International Comic Book Festival in Angoulême **
The 40th edition of the International Comic Book Festival in Angoulême was held from January 31 to February 3, 2013. An ArtFx team was there for the occasion to share in some of the cultural experiences.
Below is a journal of the first 24 hours in Angoulême on January 24th.
An enormous amount of luggage is patiently waiting in the sun. The owners are smoking their last cigarettes and sharing jokes in front of the school. The car arrives, Arnaud is driving a magnificent Smart Forfour. Literally: Smart for four. There are five of us, plus a mountain of luggage. Who has the vaseline and a shoe horn?
After fifteen minutes of Tetris in the trunk, most of the bags are in place and we put the rest on our laps. We are tightly packed inside. An unspoken rule is established: no moving! We slowly take off while exaggerately waving goodbye to our fellow ‘ArtFxians’.
Here we go! Finally. We are on our way to Angoulême……oh, wait, we need to go grocery shopping and fill up the tank! Okay, so we FINALLY take off for Angoulême at 3:30pm.
While a passing very long moments sharing stories about our lives and savagely wrestling with the radio antenna, we advance little by little. Titiane sends us updates about Colonel Dobbs and his right hand man El Chicano Hernandez.. Ben and Gaël talk about all kinds of things, while Arnaud patiently drives to the sounds of zouk. We are rediscovering each other during these relaxed moments.
Before arriving in Angoulême, we hit a truck stop (to the great amusement of Titiane) in search of nourishment.
9:12pm: It’s with a full belly that we begin the final moments of our epic journey.
The point de convergence
At the entrance of the city, an enormous colorful statue is positioned at a roundabout.
– «Ooh look, it’s Gaston La Gaffe!»
– «No Ben, that’s Lucien…!»
– «Oh, crap.»
The house where we are staying is 300 meters away on a charming little street. Our host is waiting for us in front of the door and welcomes us with open arms, a moustache and charming little accent.
We relax in the silly atmosphere and stretch our legs by taking a tour of the property. When we get back to the car, we are completely stress-free and happy to have arrived safe and sound… until we open the trunk: a wave of luggage spills out on our feet. Everything is on the ground.
11:39pm: Like well organized ants, in a last push of energy, we carry all the luggage to our rooms. Then, a few drinks and shower later, we are sleeping like angels.
9:00am : Well rested and drunk with excitement, we gather ourselves around a gigantic breakfast. A mountain of small pastries, well over ten yogurt containers, bowls filled with fruit, pitchers of milk, fruit juice and coffee….we’re off to a great start!
This is when our first notable meeting occurs: Pau, Spanish author-drawer, working at Ankama. With our heads still in a fog, we feed ourselves on a mature and agreeable discussion while trying to keep from screaming first thing in the morning. One must be a little calm, just the same, we are not completely OUT OF CONTROL !!! You know?
Braving the morning cold, we examine our surroundings: based of the information from our host, a bus should pass by here. It’s out of the question to bring the car in town, there’s no place to park. On the bus, I amuse myself by looking at the people around me. One can clearly distinguish the inhabitants who are going about their daily lives from the festival attendees. The inhabitants are carrying groceries and looking curiously at the other people. The festival attendees are carrying backpacks, inspecting their schedules and talking loudly.
9:50am: Arriving at the main stop, the inhabitants all walk together towards their homes while the naive and insolent festivalers head in mass towards the center of town.
The battle begins
10:06 am: Finally armed with ‘GUEST’ badges, we are passing in front of the crowd in VIP style….Okay, it is 10 in the morning and there isn’t an actual line, yet. This pretentious moment will arrive. Unconciously, we enter the Comic book lair.
Once we have passed the security guards, a warm wave carries us along. A nice brouhaha is lifting us up from the madness and sweetly welcoming us. The population is truly heterogenous : adults, adolescents, seniors, extremely elderly and extremely young people. There is also a variety of styles: we cross paths with bikers, rastafarians, hipsters, successful hybrids, unsuccessful hybrids and even a few unidentifiable specimens. Among the people are visitors and professionals. And believe it or not, the latter was part of the most eccentric group in Angoulême. (Okay, maybe they were disguised as Atalante).
Carried by the joyful ambience, we venture out little by little, in search of the best discoveries. To my right, there are a bunch of vendors in the marketplace, (the famous) Fluide Glacial: «My mayonnaise is delicious!,» they cry. You have to understand that they have a sense of humor at Fluide Glacial. When you purchase three magazines you get a free jar of mayonnaise. (Of course, being a Fluide fan, I bought everything!)
11:28am : A couple of Péchés mignons and Bidochons further away, a giant sign indicates the book signing hours… hmmm *something to remember*. We continue exploring from one universe to the next taking steps and deciding in which direction we should go next.
On the battlefield…
Here one is finding all possible subjects musical treatments, themes for children or adolescents. Some of them are approaching gothic themes, others come from countries far away like the Korean comics and manga.
A French comic artist looks at me curiously:
-«You work for Soleil?»
I glance at my accomplice Titiane.
-«Yeah, yeah, more or less.»
11:54 am: The man refuses to leave our side. Quick, we must get out here! Take this comic! (I can’t find a better solution).
14:08 pm: After crossing the long road of numerous peripheries, we are finally in front of Soleil and it’s giant screen. Ahh, the comic book trailers! I remain immobilized among the folly, stupified by the screen to the point of hypnosis. We don’t have time for this.
4:21 pm : A few meters away, we are in front of the young talents of the Comics world: Indeez. Charming people drunk with energy and so eager to share that Arnaud leaves with two signed drawings just for fun.
Several stands later, we are in the heart of the adult Comics section: Tabou, erotic comics publisher. At first a little timid, I ask my colleagues for support and they are happy to oblige. Some time spent browsing and a couple of compulsive purchases later, we regroup.
6:26 pm: This first day has made us thirsty.
The calm before the storm…
6:42 pm: We try out a local bar that the other festival attendees aren’t going into: Le Chardon d’Ecosse. Only the local inhabitants and VIPs are able to enter. After taking a look around, we realize that the bar is reserved for the professionals who are being interviewed. A few ‘pillars,’ like the Gaulois and their magic potion, are installed at the counter.
Change of bar, Le Latitude Pub: Festival ambience, flat screens showing Michael Jackson on loop, and an attempt to divert our eyes from the rainbow colored ceiling.
7:07 pm : Here everyone is happy to be sitting down and enjoying a beer Some are massaging their necks while sipping their drinks, others are proudly showing off thier souvenirs of the day. Like them, each of us is taking our comic books out of our bags. Over ten books are blanketing the table when an older woman covered in jewelry strikes up a conversation with Gaël:
– «Wow! What a beautiful book you have there…Could I take a look?»
– «Uhh of course, go ahead.»
– «Thank you, young man. »
The woman grabs the book out of Gaël’s hands while flashing him a charming smile. Next, she latches onto a poor overworked server. The discussion becomes weird, this woman is bothering us. It’s time to go eat.
The end of the work day…
8:52 pm: We go to dinner in a very……..paradoxical restaurant. The decorations are more or less chic, the slightly drunken waiter puts us on the first floor. The tables are large and round so we are sitting far away from each other. The waiter arrives to take our order eventhough none of us have chosen anything. One of us also notices that Rihanna is blaring. Strange! The more this diner advances, the more we laugh. The waiters, feeling like they are not being taken seriously, are vexed, enslaved to this absurd situation. It becomes almost burlesque (no, not a striptease). This just makes us laugh harder. After we pay the bill and create a few more enemies, we walk out into the fresh air smiling from ear to ear.
At this point, a projection appears on the the front of a church: The symbol of the festival – a little cat having trouble climbing the buttress, then the typical flag of Asterix and Obelix is posted on the walls.
11:16 pm: The last images seem to be wishing us good night. We head back exhausted, but happy, with the goal of recharging for the next day. The last few meters are difficult, but seeing our beds is like a divine gift. Ten minutes later, we are all cradled in good hands: Morpheus was waiting for us.
Final reports from the on-site team…
There are two more days of this trip to go.
So far, we have been enchanted by unexpected and enriching meetings :
- psychotherapy with Arthur de Pins signing
- diner under the cynical sign with ***
- buffet of desserts shared with the Fluide Glacial team
- a dance-off with the young talents of Indeez
- an intrusion in the professional tent and spying on confidential projects
- an unexpected meeting with an ArtFx alumni
- five souvenir photos while wearing costumes
- a failed joke with the top Wacom artist…
In short, at the Angoulême Festival the world comes together thanks to a common passion: Comics.
The different styles of comic books present are representative of the readers who infest the event:
completely diverse and passionate. Our memories are formed through chance encounters and other meetings.
In the end, each person brings his individual personality and feels at home while being intergrated into this huge cultural melting pot.
[small_button]English version by Danielle Harrell, English teacher for ArtFx[/small_button]