Saturday, March 13, 2004

The Cannes of Comics

The Angouléme International Comics Festival has been around for the past 31 years, held usually during late-January in the city of Angouléme, known historically for its paper mills but currently being recognized as one of France's many hubs for the arts. Angouléme is also the home city of the Centre National de la Bande Dessinée, a government-sponsored center featuring the grafictional arts.

This year, the festival awards abolished the Best Foreign Comic Book category, thus permitting foreign works to compete in the major awards. This enabled Neil Gaiman's Sandman: La saison des brumes (The Season of Mists) to bag the Best Scenario Award and Naoki Urusawa's 20th Century Boy to get Best Series. For the Best Comic Book Award, Adrian Tomine's Blonde Platine (Summer Blonde) and Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's Daredevil trades 4 and 5 were among the nominees, but the plum went to Manu Larcenet's Le Combat Ordinaire.

Alan Moore and Kevin o'Neill's La Ligue des Gentlemen Extraordinaires (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) was also nominated for Best Scenario, while Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben's second trade collection of Hulk got a nod for Best Art.

Hundreds of comics creators from all over flocked to the four-day festival. This year's international guests included Jim Lee, Chris Claremont, and Chris Ware. Artist Dave McKean was also present, and his works were displayed at the H?tel Saint Simon in a special exhibit called "Narcolepsy".

The Angouléme International Comics Festival is government-funded, and enjoys the support of corporate sponsors. It is recognized as a major tourism event in the city, with satellite events happening in other parts of France. The organizers have even tied up with train stations, where mini exhibits were put up for the enjoyment of commuters.

Visit their site here.

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