Angoulême 2023 was when issues returned to recurrently scheduled programming – in time for its fiftieth anniversary occasion and – to make certain – the influential Worldwide Comedian Arts Pageant (FIBD) had come again robust. After a Covid-cancelled 2021 occasion and an Omicron-delayed 2022 occasion, the pageant was lastly in a position to resume its recurrently scheduled programming slot – late January, within the freezing medieval house it has identified and beloved since 1973. And the general public was right here for it.
As talked about, the 2022 occasion was shifted to March following December’s Omicron wave. When it did return, France had solely simply eliminated masks mandates and different covid restrictions. Individuals got here however the crowds weren’t there. This yr’s occasion was an entire different matter. Crowds got here. Oh boy, did the crowds come.
On the Saturday – the busiest day in any pageant weekend – there was so many individuals that there have been queues circling every of the principle comics pavilions (Monde des Bulles/World of Bubbles, for the European mainstream; Nouveau Monde/New World, for various and world publishers; and Manga Metropolis, for manga and work from Southern Asia). Within the case of 1, there have been two heavy strains snaking in two separate instructions up the city’s major buying road!
One of many highlights of any Angoulême is the unimaginable exhibitions that the pageant is ready to pull off. There have been retrospectives of the work of Margeurite Abouet, Julie Doucet, Philippe Druillet, Junji Ito, and Ryoichi Ikegami. There was additionally a particular exhibition of Hajime Isayama’s smash hit manga collection Assault on Titan – exhibiting unique pages spanning moments from the collection 2009 starting to 2021 finish. All have been gorgeous.
Of the exhibitions Junji Ito’s may need been essentially the most astounding. Numerous his unique pages have been on show and also you have been in a position to see shut up how intricately detailed the horror mangaka’s linework is. Merely breath-taking.
Angoulême’s fiftieth yr had crowds galore and the particular version merchandise for this yr had bought most of its inventory allocation by the tip of the primary day, on Thursday. Individuals have been hungry to remove a chunk of this historic pageant.
The latest scandal relating to Bastien Vives – a rising star within the French scene whose penchant for provocation and outrage boiled over with the announcement of a particular exhibition in December that needed to be cancelled – was not wholly forgotten. Not least by protestors putting posters decrying paedophilia in comics. His work was not banned from the pageant, as his writer Casterman was nonetheless promoting his (comparatively uncontroversial) critically acclaimed books at their stand. A public debate was supposedly organized by the pageant however apparently it didn’t go down with no hitch since just one facet – the pro-freedom of speech reps – confirmed as much as take part.
There have been some disappointments of the Angoulême 2023 weekend. One was the shocked shrinkage of the Manga Metropolis pavilion. Often an infinite marquee with manga, manhwa, and manhua galore, this yr it was tied on to a different constructing that you just needed to enter earlier than reaching Manga Metropolis itself. The constructing featured a skateboarding halfpipe (with skate boarders), breakdancers and a meals courtroom. No comics although. Very odd. When you entered Manga Metropolis you observed how a lot smaller it had change into. Not less than half, maybe a 3rd, of its dimension in earlier years. The most important publishers have been current, as have been the at all times welcome delegations of Taiwan and Hong Kong comics exhibiting off the newest new work of their markets. Only a disgrace it felt so cramped – particularly when you think about the pandemic induced explosion in manga consumption in France.
Some exhibitions didn’t fairly go well with their areas (Elle Résiste, Elles Résistante a graphic biography collection of the lifetime of WW2 resistance fighter and activist Madeleine Riffaud may need been extra applicable within the city’s battle museum and the area reallocated to offer Doucet’s – the Grand Prix of final yr – enough room to be loved.
One of many weakest exhibitions of the weekend was Colors. A broad time period and will have been used any variety of methods to make an attention-grabbing exhibition. It lacked a throughline or ample context to make the – completely gorgeous – assortment on show actually resonate. It’s unusual to assume that you may take a look at unique Calvo, McKay, Druillet, Moebius, and so on. alongside the work of newer masters of the shape and are available out questioning what the purpose of it was.
General it was a particularly busy return to kind for one of many world’s premiere festivals of the sequential artform, and a welcome reminder that there’s at all times extra implausible comics work to find outdoors the Anglo-American bubble.
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