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January 22, 2009


Claude Moliterni, 1932-2009

Claude Moliterni, a massively prolific writer, editor and critic who was one of the founders of the Angouleme Festival and a key player in the 20th Century's re-consideration of comics as a vital cultural and artistic force through his writing and exhibition organizing, died on Tuesday evening from a heart attack. He was 76 years old.

A writer of spy and crime prose books, Moliterni became an editor at Hachette in the mid-1950s. Most of his early work on behalf of comics came in the next decade. He became involved in France's influential comics-advocacy groups by becoming president of the Societe civile d'etudes et de recherches des litteratures dessinees (SOCERLID) in 1964, and founding the magazine Phenix in 1966, remaining its editor until it ended in 1977. In 1966 he joined the organizers of the Lucca Festival and in 1969 he founded la Convention de la bande dessinee a Paris. In 1967, Moliterni and Pierre Couperie organized the exhibition "Bande dessinee et figuration narrative" for the Musee des arts decoratifs de Paris, during a time his brief biography that comics were looked on with great suspicion in terms of their artistic value.

The 1970s saw Moliterni reach a position of influence that he utilized on comics behalf. Starting in 1973, Moliterni was editorial director at Editions Dargaud, serving in an supervisory capacity over a wide range of the most popular comics magazine such as Pilote and Luky Luke Magazine. He would love that position in 1989. Moliterni would move from there into a major position with Langereau Gautier, where he spent two years, and then Langereau Gautier, where he remained most of the 1990s. He had an extensive career as a comics scriptwriter, starting in 1965 with Scarlett Dream and encompassing a number of genres and collaborators.

imageMoliterni followed up on the success of the Musee des arts decoratifs show in two ways. The first is that he became one of the world's most active comics art show organizers. One source suggesting he may have helped put together more than 200 shows between 1968 and 2005. Among those receiving his attention through such an exhibition were giants like Will Eisner, Charles Schulz and, Hugo Pratt and Moebius. The second is as a writer. A book related to that art show (or the great coincidence of a book titled Bande dessinee et Figuration narrative) was the first of a long run of books of criticism and history including L'Histoire de la bande dessinee d'expression francaise (1972), two volumes of L'Encyclopedie de la bande dessinee (1974-1975), L'Histoire mondiale de la bande dessinee (1980) and a number of collaborations over the last two decades in print, on computer-ready formats and on-line.

Perhaps his great contribution during that full, flush period -- or at least the one for which he's best known -- is his role acting as one of the co-founders of the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee d'Angouleme, along with Jean Mardikian and Francis Groux. That show has become one of the world's two or three largest comics festivals and is arguably its most important, some believe by a wide, wide margin. It's a big enough show to be known by the name of its host city, and Angouleme the festival is certainly a giant presence to all European comics professionals and fans.

Claude Moliterni will be honored at the Festival's awards ceremony on February 1.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
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