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January 28, 2007

Bart Beaty in Angouleme 07: Jose Munoz Wins Grand Prix; Initial Reflection


Bart Beaty Reports From Angouleme:

So, after two days of wifi suddenly the system shut down and there was no more blogging from the Festival. That might have been the least of the organizational problems. Yesterday I waited five minutes to get off a shuttle bus as there were so many people waiting to get on that no one could move at all. And the party for the artists at town hall lost power for half an hour -- no lights, no music, free drinks -- but there no one seemed to care so much (did I mention the free drinks?). Just another Angouleme Saturday night.

I will have a proper reflection on what was learned at this Festival in a day or two when I'm back in Canada and a little more rested. The big tension was between the commercial and the artistic (as always) with the commercial sucking the life out of the town, but the artistic rallying through the prizes.

The prizes? Oh, the prizes! Tom has the covers up below so you can see for yourself, but let me just say that last night at the Mercure a "famous French cartoonist" walked by me and just leaned over and said "Fantastic palmares, oui?" And for the small press, oui bien sur!

Shigeru Mizuki's Non Non Ba becomes the first manga to win the big prize, and it is a work of supreme skill wonderfully, beautifully, lovingly presented by small press champion Editions Cornelius, the producers of the nicest books around.

Best newcomers are the insane Belgians from L'Asso, Ruppert and Mulot. I'll have more on these guys in a couple of days, and with luck you may even see something in English from them before too long. L'Asso also took the Heritage prize, a shocking upset over Little Nemo, with Sergent Laterreur, the long overlooked masterpiece from Pilote. I spoke with someone last night who told me that this choice had restored his faith in the Festival.

The rest of the winners are an outstanding collection of books. Note the publishers though: Only two books from the largest presses (Le Photographe and Black Hole), and neither of those a traditional BD. I rode the train back to Paris in a first class car filled with employees from the major houses, and there were few smiles about the prizes.

As for the grand prize, Jose Munoz is, obviously, a wonderfully deserving choice and I couldn't be happier to see him win this accolade. Yesterday in the afternoon I was feeling that Angou had little left to offer me. The mall-ification of the Festival seemed complete. But the dramatic last minute shift towards a celebration of the art rather than the commerce (plus a nap on the train) has me excited already to return.

I'm back in a day or two with thoughts on the whole of the Festival, and over the next few weeks I will endeavor to review all of the prize winners that I haven't reviewed already.
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

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