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April 12, 2011

L’Association Meeting Apparently As Dramatic As Expected; Bart Beaty Provides Some Extra Analysis

This breathless account of yesterday's meeting at the troubled French-language alt-comics giant L'Association is a blast to read via your on-line translator of choice or even just using your college french. I wouldn't be comfortable vouching for it 100 percent -- I think at one point the author for no particular reason calls Killoffer a name -- but it sure is fun. It appears that yesterday was filled with a lot of dramatic fighting between all the interested parties on hand (and their lawyers) whether they would accept Jean-Christophe Menu's suggested list of a new board made up of wider publishing allies of Menu and the company -- a list that I think unlike other options had the benefit of being introduced according to accepted rules for introducing such a change -- or if they would go with a temporary board consisting of founding members, with some of the dynamic that the founding members have since left the company and Menu has stayed behind rearing its head. Apparently everyone was put to a vote and the founding members garnered the most votes, with Menu himself leading the pack.

This is a massive projection on my part, but that seems to me the best result: a vote that both recognizes Menu's ongoing contributions and crucial role with the publisher and that reintroduces the founding members into a decision-making group that can now forge ahead to find a new, working structure for the legendary company. It's like an episode of Oprah: everybody gets a car. The vote might also provide a rough snapshot of how the folks involved might feel about a few of potential executive board members that could be brought in at a later date. On the other hand, this could be seen solely as a win for the employees side of the employees/Menu divide that opened up when there was an attempt to reduce staff in January -- this is the outcome they wanted. Bill Kartalopoulos sent along a message posted by one of those employees to Facebook
"L'Assemblee Generale de L'Association a vu la victoire ecrasante de la liste soutenue par les salaries. Le Conseil d'Administration est desormais compose des sept fondateurs. Apres un mois de greve, quatre mois de conflit et six heures de debat public, les salaries ont enfin obtenu gain de cause."
that has a real "Finally! Victory!" tone to it.

One thing that should be held up as a possibility is that this list of directors includes a bunch of gentleman that haven't really gotten along in recent years, which might make any and all decision-making moving forward a prickly business. I guess we'll see.

As a postscript, that article notes something that I'd heard before that I keep forgetting to mention: that a distributor switch -- L'Asso's longtime partner has left that business -- informs some of the recent drama as much as anything else has.

Update: I've been told by a couple of folks that my crappy college French has betrayed me, and that the author didn't actually insult Killoffer with his description, and just described him. My apologies.

Bart Beaty Writes In:

Just a couple of observations on the L'Asso meeting from someone who was not there, and who has not spoken to anyone who was there.

My first reaction is that they've kicked the can down the road a little further. Now that the departed founders have been re-installed everyone may take a deep breath and the fighting will either abate or resume. On the side of abatement is the fact that the slate of candidates forwarded on behalf of the employees included, in the spirit of conciliation, Jean-Christophe Menu as well as the six other founders. On the side of eventual resumption is the fact that the vote seems to have come down on strict divisional lines, with Menu's supporters and detractors voting the way they intended to before discussions opened. The only compromise seems to have been to allow the employees' list to stand at all.

My second reaction is that this was an initial victory for the striking employees and a slap at Menu. How this will work itself out in the future remains to be seen. If the six departed founders plan to return to L'Asso and resume editorial duties, we can talk about the band being back together. I haven't seen anything yet that suggests this is what will happen, but obviously it is a possibility.

My third reaction is that the situation seems no closer to being actually resolved, but the dynamics have changed significantly.

My fourth reaction is that this still may be heading to court now.
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink

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