Comic book festival opens in Angoulême

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Matthew Warren - [email protected]
Comic book festival opens in Angoulême

Comic enthusiasts are gathering in the western city of Angoulême for the 39th international festival of comics which starts on Thursday.



The four day convention brings together over 200,000 lovers of the illustrated art form.

Comics, known as "bandes dessinées" or just BD in French, are hugely popular with both adults and children in France. 

Large bookshops almost always have a significant section for BD, with titles covering all possible subjects.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that the art form is more popular than ever, with a record 5,327 comic books published in 2011 and almost 33 million books sold. 

The festival awards eleven special prizes each year including a "Grand Prix" given to honour a creator's lifetime achievement.

To celebrate the festival, daily newspaper Libération used illustration for all its news stories in its Thursday issue. 

American comic artist Art Spiegelman is the president of this year's festival. Spiegelman won a Pulitzer prize for his comic book memoir Maus, a biography of his father, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor.

In an interview at the press conference for the opening of the festival, Spiegelman praised the French love of comic books.

"For many decades, France, as represented by Angoulême, was the capital of comics, outside Tokyo," he said. 

He said the French "took comics much more the way I took them" adding that he felt "very alienated in America as a comics artist."

The festival runs until Sunday January 29th. More details are available on the festival website,




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