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Bart Beaty Reports In From Angouleme 01/25/08
posted January 25, 2008

Sun, Smurfs and Smoke-Free
By Bart Beaty

As you've seen from CR's links to other, better and more credible reporters, things are going smoothly at this year's Festival. There are no major squabbles breaking out and not a lot of break out news. The politicians were in town getting their photos taken, not something that happens much at San Diego, but there are no fires burning that desperately need putting out. So far, this is the most enjoyable Festival in many years, with even a few notorious anti-Angou types seen smiling.

imageMaybe I hang out with the wrong people, but a lot of folks are talking to me about the Smurfs. There is a series of Schtroumpfs exhibits along the roads and each has a series of games (find the Smurf, find the differences in these pictures, etc) and they are a welcome and nostalgic way of killing time. But you know things are going well when the crowd starts feeling positively smurfy.

The other talk, as Tom suggests, is about awards. Every nominee I've spoken with feels certain that they won't win, although I am sure that I've spoken with a few who will. The awards are tough to pick as each President, Munoz this year, selects their own jury, so without knowing the jurors it is hard to guess their moves. Regardless, we'll know in about 24 hours.

As for the President, there are several lines of reasoning (and, therefore, wagering). Several, including Lewis Trondheim, have noted that one important line never crossed by the Festival is awarding the presidency to someone known primarily as a writer -- Jacques Lob would be the closest. And, of course, no Japanese has ever won. There is some feeling that the '70s generation might be played out and that the Festival, following Zep and Trondheim in recent years, might fully embrace the generation from the 1990s. If that is the case, put your money on names like Sfar, or Dupuy-Berberian (who would be the first joint winners), or De Crecy. My best bet if you're inclined towards the Japanese is Jiro Taniguchi. And my picks for sadly overlooked figures from the recent past would include Loustal and Baru. The fact of the matter is that there's no shortage of available talent.

I saw President Munoz this morning and he was looking well and happy. He should, as people will remember this Festival fondly.

And the smoking ban didn't make the beer at the Mercure cheaper, but you can at least breathe the air. OK, one cynic complained that it used to smell like an ashtray and now it smells like a cartoonist, but you can't have everything.


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