08 February 2015

Report from the International Comics Festival in Angoulême

In English, because I think this might interest my international readers as well!

Last week end, I was invited by the Swedish Institute in Paris to the 42nd Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Angoulême, probably the most prominent comics festival in France. The institute invited a group of Swedish artists to participate in activities on stage and signings. 

The other artists was some of my own idols, whom I read works by when I started making comics; Joakim Pirinen, Nina Hemmingsson and Anneli Furmark! I was so starstruck! Also the supertalented and supernice Emelie Östergren (who I shared living quaters with) and Mattias Adolfsson (a master of social media!). Going to the event meant sitting in a train for 3,5 hour (between Charle de Gaulle and Angoulême), and those was well spent on talking about making comics, building stories, teaching, psychology and other deep and interesting things with these awesomely brilliant and friendly people... I was elated!! 
To be invited and part of this group of people was extremely honoring and nerve-racking at the same time.

Here's some photos!

All of us artists invited was to sit on the stage next to the Swedish booth and draw while what we drew was shown on the screen behind us. I was first up, right at the beginning of the day, and happened to get a huge crowd of 10-year-olds, who stayed for about 30 minutes watching me draw!



Photo by Fredrik Strömberg, chairman of the Swedish Comics Association.

And the finished picture:

 After that, we was to sign books in the Swedish booth.
Here's me, Emelie and Mattias signing, at the same time!
Photo by Fredrik Strömberg, chairman of the Swedish Comics Association.

 Nina Hemmingsson drawing.
We all had music playing while drawing, which was 
really cool since it also told alot about our personal tastes. 
I chose the Game of Thrones soundtrack, for example.

 Emelie Östergren drawing. 
All of us also worked so differently when drawing. 
Some did sketches, while others didn't.

The stage was also used for a couple of panels on Swedish and Nordic comic. One with editors from four publishers, one from each of the four Nordic countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Very interesting when they compared the marked and seemed to find similarities but also some significant differences, like how (generally speaking) comics from Norway are more fun, comics from Denmark more commercial, comics from Sweden more political and comics from Finland more artistic. Generally speaking, that is.
Anneli, Nina and I was on stage and talked about women making comics in Sweden, and we had a couple of inspired women in the audience - yaaay!
And last but not least, three of the Nordic countries battled it out on stage, in a cartoon stand off. Mattias and I represented Team Sweden, and we're taking the lead, until the finale when Finland came up victorious. Well fought, colleagues!

The city of Angoulême really transformed into a full festival, with tents full of publishers on each square you walk by in the center of the city. Not like a "normal" book fair where everything is crammed into one big hall.
On houses and in shops was famous French cartoon characters painted on the walls and window glass, and the mix of old French architecture and pop-art-esque pictures really made the city unique. 


Some cool street art.

On Friday, me and some other from the Swedish group (not only the invited artist, the whole delegation was about 20 people, both artist, publishers and other) went to the Jeunne Talente tent. That's where so called Book Submissions was held, also known as portfolio reviews. Editors from different French publishers gave aspiring artists a chance to show them their works and get feedback. After about 2,5 hours in line, I finally got to meet two editors from Kazé Manga, a big French manga publisher. I showed them Sword Princess Amaltea and they seemed impressed! They said it all looked very professional, wanted to keep in touch and gave me their business cards! Yippee!!

 The lines to the editors, so many eager artists.
Some even traveled there from Brasil, to show their stuff!

 The weather was bad, raining most of the time, but the time was well spent on the festival and in the company of so friendly and awesome people. Fabian Göransson, my [former] editor at Kolik förlag, a veteran in Angoulême, showed me and Emelie a nice coffee shop, and we couldn't resist the cakes they had there. A nice fika with friends, just like we Sweedes like it. ;)

The irrestistable cakes.

 A quick photo of the booth, before going home.

The trip was such an eye opener. Especially to the French market, which I had a bit of knowledge about but far from enough. Also a chance of new friendships, and more contact with people I usually jsut rush by on events. I felt so honored to be invited to this trip, and thankful to the amazing people at the Swedish Institute in Paris for all their work!

Even though all this sounds super great, there was a darked part to the festival too. Because of the attack on the office of the Paris-based satire cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo on the 7th of January, the festival was swarmed with police. The doors of each tent was guarded, and it took ages to get in because of secutiry checks. Felt awkward, but we all understood the necessity. Still, it made this positive and creative atmosphere a bit tarnished... The attack was terrible, and the waves of the butterfly wings will be felt ages from now, I think. The attack was discussed a lot in the comics forum (i.e. at facebook) but I don't feel like bringing it up here right now. It's complicated.

Ending on a better note: 
Yay for new friendships, obtained business cards and an awesome time!
And cake.

Thanks for reading.

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