There’s a reason they call it the European capital of comics! Artists, crowds, exhibitions, signings, and all other things comics filled the medieval city of Angoulême for four whole days. We from Europe Comics were there, but it was a tough task to choose which events to go to as it was virtually impossible to cover them all. Too many comics, too little time…
We started off on a sunny but chilly Thursday morning and headed straight to one of the main events in town – Valerian: From the Panel to the Screen exhibition dedicated to the timeless sci-fi classic from Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières. As you probably already know – this July the beloved comic book will be hitting the big screen thanks to the director of The 5th Element, Leon, Lucy amongst many others – Luc Besson. The French cinema legend has expressed his admiration for the French comic book on numerous occasions. What’s more – the beautiful and tough Laureline was his first childhood crush! So the pairing of the visionary director with this sci-fi classic is a real match made in heaven. The exhibition consisted of two parts. In part one, the visitors could learn the history of the comic book, as well as admire the original artwork by Jean-Claude Mézières. The organizers also dedicated a small section of the exhibition to exploring how the French Valerian became an ‘inspiration’ for the US Star Wars franchise (we’ve also covered the topic here). The second part was dedicated to the making of the Valerian film. Visitors could watch videos from the set, study the storyboards and see the incredible costumes stitched together for the creatures from the Valerian universe, as well as the costumes of Valerian and Laureline themselves. Here is a video of the exhibition and our own photo album.
But it wasn’t just the exhibition that made this edition of Angoulême the ‘Valerian edition’. Our friends at Dargaud made sure that the city lived and breathed Valerian! It was indeed like one big Valerian scavenger hunt spread across town. You could find different signs and cute Shingouz aliens throughout Angoulême—you just had to look very closely!
Another interesting exhibition was that of last year’s Grand Prix winner—the Belgian master of the European Western Hermann (published by Europe Comics partner Le Lombard). Traditionally, the Grand Prix winner is chosen by Franco-Belgian comics creators, and is something of a lifetime achievement award. The winner of the 2017 Grand Prix is Swiss creator Cosey (also published by Le Lombard and soon by Europe Comics too).
The other major Franco-Belgian character getting a lot of attention this year was Gaston Lagaffe. Everybody’s favorite accident-prone office junior created by the legendary André Franquin has turned 60, and that’s one big birthday to celebrate! A major exhibition to honor the beloved character has been organized at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, but visitors of the Angoulême festival were in luck, as part of the exhibition was moved to an open space in front of city hall for everyone to enjoy. You can find more pictures here.
On Friday we visited Tunué’s stand at the Rights and Licensing Market. Apart from being a Europe Comics partner, Tunué is a publisher of great children’s books (picture books and comics), and one of their bestselling titles is Globbetrotting Viola which you can now read in English We met with the creators of Viola, Teresa Radice and Stefano Turconi, and will be posting our interview soon.
We were also lucky enough to meet with the legend of British comics Posy Simmonds, who this year was presiding over the Angoulême festival jury. Posy was kind enough to answer a few of our questions, you can read the interview here.
The much anticipated official ceremony of the Angoulême Prize for most noteworthy books of the year took place on Saturday evening. Among the winners we had once again Matthieu Bonhomme’s Lucky Luke (Prize of the Public) and Dargaud’s adaptation of a Tolstoy story Ce qu’il faut de terre à l’homme (How Much Land Does a Man Need?). For best suspense book we had yet another Dargaud title, L’Eté Diabolik (Diabolical Summer) by Thierry Smolderen (scriptwriter of Gypsy) and Alexandre Clérisse (coming soon to Europe Comics).
Those were the highlights of Angoulême 2017 from Europe Comics’s perspective. We hope to be back next year for even more stories, more pictures… and more European comics!
Credits: Head image – art from Angoulême’s official poster drawn by Hermann.