Updated: Nov 11, 2021
With my press accreditation sorted for the 49th instalment of the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in January, I thought it was time to get excited and start talking about things a little more. Since attending my first Angoulême Festival in 2014, it's become an annual destination for me, and I'm delighted to be heading back once again.
Even this year, when there wasn't a regular festival, I still managed a trip to Angoulême at the end of summer - which was a huge improvement on the usual January chill - and I can't wait to return in just over two months' time. I'll be sharing more about my experiences at past festivals over the coming weeks, but for now I'd like to talk about this year's recently announced headliners.
Chris Ware has long been targeted by the festival, so it's nice to see they've finally snared him as 'president' for this year after so many near misses. His work on Acme Novelty Library, Building Stories, and Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth is nothing short of brilliant, and I can't wait to see the exhibition of his work done with the usual Angoulême flair.
Similarly exciting is the appearance of mangaka Jun Mayuzuki, who did the excellent After The Rain manga series. Despite the somewhat controversial nature of its subject matter, After The Rain is one of the sweetest manga series I've read, and it still remains a favourite of mine. Knowing the French reverence for manga and its creators, I can only imagine what delights lay in store for those of us who are fans.
Fanny Michaëlis is new to me - although I often pick up Les Inrockuptibles where her illustrations appear - but that's one of the great joys of Angoulême. Although they tend to bring in a number of my favourite creators, I also walk away having discovered a load of new favourites from the past and present who I can then continue to follow. I look forward to discovering Fanny's work in the idyllic setting the festival provides, and can't wait to report back on it when I return.
Full details from the official press release can be found below:
And The Festival Headliners Are ...
The Angoulême Festival is more than ever willing to host and promote comic art from the world over, in line with the relationship that our country has been fostering in the cultural field. An approach symbolised, this year again, by the three comic artists of international renown commissioned to design the posters for the 49th edition of an event dedicated to the multifarious, border-abolishing 9th Art. Awarded the Grand Prix 2021 by his peers, the American artist Chris Ware never ceases to skilfully reinvent the codes of the comics medium; the Japanese Jun Mayuzuki hones a graceful and bewitching signature figure suffused with aerial, instinctive aesthetics, at once evocative and delicate; while the French author Fanny Michaëlis blurs the line between reality and dream through the medium of a powerfully variegated prism.
Chris Ware won the Grand Prix at the 48th Angoulême Festival on 23 June 2021, succeeding Richard Corben, Rumiko Takahashi, and Emmanuel Guibert. In keeping with tradition, The American comic artist agreed to make his archives accessible for a retrospective of his work, as well as to design one of the three official posters for the event’s forthcoming edition. The Angoulême Festival is honoured to welcome this innovative artist who started out in Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly’s avant-garde magazine RAW in January 2022. In the early 1990s, his first major work Acme Novelty paved the way for Quimby the Mouse, and Jimmy Corrigan – winner of Best Album Award at Angoulême in 2003. Chris Ware stands out for his original work and the fascinating way in which he challenges his chosen art form. Deep musings brilliantly illustrated with Building stories, an object-book compiling fifteen or so interconnected stories in various formats. His latest work, Rusty Brown, was published by Delcourt in 2020.
"In America, where comics don't even rate as an art—even a ninth one—I am so grateful that your nation is apparently crazy enough to provide an honor such as this, to say nothing of so generously allowing my cartooning pals worldwide to actually honor me with it. Your list of previous recipients reads like a pantheon of heroes to me, and while I firmly believe that competition is the exact opposite of art, I also understand the very human inclination to express affection for things that make life more, well, lively. Not that I can necessarily claim that for my own stuff, but at least I can be extremely flattered at having been included with so many of my fellow cartoonists." - Chris Ware, 23 June 2021
Standing out as a mangaka in 2007 thanks to the first edition of the Golden Tiara (a prize organized by Shueisha), Jun Mayuzuki revealed the full scope of her talent with the initiation comedy After the Rain, published between 2014 and 2018 (10 volumes, by Kana). The same year, Jun Mayuzuki won the 63rd Shogakukan Manga Award, in parallel with the release, on television (animated series) and silver screen (feature film) adaptations of her manga. Her latest dystopian romantic comedy has been published in Young Jump magazine by Shueisha since 2019. The plot of Kowloon Generic Romance (in progress, by Kana) is set in the famous walled city of Kowloon, in Hong Kong, well known for its anarchical architecture and murky aura.
Born in Paris in 1983, Fanny Michaëlis first made a foray in theatre before immersing herself in the drawing world. After a spell at the Beaux-Arts school in Paris, she moved to Brussels to enrol at the renowned Institut Saint-Luc where she learnt the comic art ropes. She published her first stories with United Dead Artists and went on to successfully collaborate with Cornélius (Avant mon père aussi était un enfant, Géante, Le Lait noir). She regularly works as an illustrator for Le Monde, Les Inrockuptibles, and XXI. Fanny Michaëlis is also lead singer and drummer in the band Fatherkid, alongside the cartoonist and guitarist Ludovic Debeurme.
For more information about the festival, please visit their website: www.bdangouleme.com