France’s big comic book festival returns after more than a year away

After more than a year off the French festival calendar because of Covid-19, the Festival de la bande dessinée in Angoulême returns this weekend.

France's big comic book festival returns after more than a year away
(Photo: Yohan Bonnet / AFP)

Cancelled in 2021 for public health reasons, and postponed from its usual January slot earlier this year with restrictions still firmly in place, the festival celebrating all things comic book and graphic novel – the second largest of its kind in Europe – runs from March 17th to March 20th in the Charente town.

This year, a special exhibition of works in support of Ukraine following the Russian invasion has been hastily arranged.

The opening ceremony, on the evening of March 16th, will include a performance featuring Franco-Ukrainian pianist Dimitri Naïditch that will bring together comic strip artists from 10 nations, who “will unite to propose, on a scenario by French author Alfred, a story in drawings evoking the situation in Ukraine”, organisers have said.

An exhibition of work by recent Grand Prix winner Chris Ware is another headline-grabbing part of this year’s event, while the festival will also mark the centenary of the birth of Shigeru Mizuki, recognised in the manga Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, Pénélope Bagieu, Catherine Meurisse and Canadian Julie Doucet are in the running to become just the fourth female winner of the Festival’s Grand Prix, following in the artistic footsteps of trailblazers Claire Bretécher (1984), Florence Cestac (2000) and Rumiko Takahashi (2019).

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Paris street art legend Miss.Tic dies aged 66

Miss.Tic, whose provocative work began cropping up in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris in the mid-80s and made her a pioneer of French street art, died on Sunday aged 66, her family told AFP.

Paris street art legend Miss.Tic dies aged 66

Radhia Novat grew up in the narrow streets in the shadow of Sacre-Coeur basilica, the daughter of a Tunisian father and a mother from Normandy in western France, where she began stencilling sly and emancipatory slogans.

Her family said she had died of an unspecified illness.

Other French street artists paid tribute to her work.

On Twitter, street artist Christian Guemy, alias C215, hailed “one of the founders of stencil art”. The walls of the 13th arrondissement of Paris – where her images are a common sight – “will never be the same again”, he wrote.

Another colleague, “Jef Aerosol” said she had fought her final illness with courage, in a tribute posted on Instagram.

And France’s newly appointed Culture Minister, Rima Abdul Malak, saluted her “iconic, resolutely feminist” work.

Miss.Tic’s work often included clever wordplays — almost always lost in translation — and a heroine with flowing black hair who resembled the artist herself. The images became fixtures on walls across the capital.

Miss. Tic with some examples of her work. Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP

“I had a background in street theatre, and I liked this idea of street art,” Miss.Tic said in a 2011 interview.

“At first I thought, ‘I’m going to write poems’. And then, ‘we need images’ with these poems. I started with self-portraits and then turned towards other women,” she said.

Miss.Tic also drew the attention of law enforcement over complaints of defacing public property, leading to an arrest in 1997.

But her works came to be shown in galleries in France and abroad, with some acquired by the Paris modern art fund of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, according to her website.

And cinema buffs will recognise her work on the poster for Claude Chabrol’s 2007 film “La fille coupee en deux” (“A Girl Cut in Two”).

For a spell she was a favourite of fashion brands such as Kenzo and Louis Vuitton.

“So often it’s not understood that you can be young and beautiful and have things to say,” she told AFP in 2011.

“But it’s true that they sell us what they want with beautiful women. So I thought, I’m going to use these women to sell them poetry.”

Her funeral, the date of which is still to be announced, will be open to the public, said her family.