Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
Bá and I returned from our first trip to Angoulême and its Festival International de la Bande Dessinée a week ago, in the middle of Carnaval, and after 10 days in the cold french winter, we recovered by the beach for a week, feet sunk in the wet sand seen through the transparent waters of our beautiful sea. We had an incredible time in France, inspiring every day, and more and more we fall in love with the respect and love the french market has for the books and the artists.
Festivals that take place in smaller cities, or in just one determined part of a big one, are great because you can - and should - do everything by foot, and Angoulême is this beautiful little medieval city and the festival takes over the entire town. All around, you see people that love comics, artists, readers, editors and everybody else involved, and you cross them in the streets, in every restaurant, in all bars and museums and in the giant tents (called "bulles" over there) where you'll find the stands and booths of all the publishers. The prize most people are after is a very beautiful original drawing - done on their book or on a sketchbook or on a separate piece of paper - from their favorite artist. The artists take turns in the publishers booths, and a place in the line for one of the signing sessions of three hours (or more) is very disputed.
We were at the Urban Comics booth every day, signing copies of Daytripper or Casanova, and from Umbrella Academy and many of our work in english. The response from the audience was incredible, and it was great to see what the french responded more in Daytripper: Olinda, the exotic girl from the waters of Salvador, and Brás first love, was more successful than Ana, and many people asked for drawings of Dante, the dog.
Another guest Urban Comics brought to the festival was Bill Willinghan, of Fables' fame, who came with his lovely assistant Stephanie. Every night, as we gathered together for dinner, the guests and everybody from the publisher, we had an incredibly funny time with Bill, a human well of jokes, and he told very interesting stories about his time serving in the army in the seventies, which was the last time he had visited France. After two or three Vertigo panels together in San Diego (all of them passed without us getting to properly talk to each other), it was really nice to finally have an opportunity to get to know Bill a little more. Those dinners at Angoulême were always delightful, and everybody at Urban Comics loves what they do, and it was nice to feel that comics (or bande dessinée) are such a passionate world in France.
It's great to feel the good vibe when it's there, spreading, oozing from the artists, from the readers, from yours friends. It was great to see people we already knew so we could share this wonderful feeling that comics are great and there's something magical happening in comics right now. We had great talks with Cyril Pedrosa over late night drinks, and a great conversation with Mark Siegel over wine, and a wonderful lunch with Bannister in the basement of a italian restaurant. There were those we wished we could have seen more, and talked more with, like Frederik Peeters, Annabelle, Joe Keating and many others. On the last night, we had a very interesting and motivating conversation with Jessica Abel and Matt Madden about the differences of comics, of comics markets, of different artists, authors, and how that, instead of limiting, is nowadays actually liberating, even if still hard to accomplish.
Another great thing about this year's festival was the presence of so many brazilians. Call me patriotic, or sentimental (or blind, or crazy, or stupid), but comics are living a great moment in the world theses days, where new stuff by new people is finding its way in the hands of the readers all around, and when something great happens to you, you wish somebody close to you could share all these wonderfull feelings, and it was great to have other brazilian artists around, our friends, and it was a special moment that we shared in those four days of festivities, a moment we can bring back home together, hoping that, by talking about it, we can inspire others the same way the trip inspired us.