In France, Comic Books Are Serious Business | Modern Society of USA

In France, Comic Books Are Serious Business

In France, Comic Books Are Serious Business

Books featuring classic characters like Donald Duck, Wonder Woman and Tintin were available in both freshly-printed form and as secondhand rarities. And while occasional encounters with men in superhero outfits are unavoidable at an event like this, Angoulême has a very different atmosphere from its American counterparts such as Comic-Con.

“In America, it’s about the pop culture, which would include everything from Marvel movies to Lego,” said the American comic book artist Terry Moore, the author of a 26-year-old series, “Strangers in Paradise.” “In France, I’m seeing that it’s about books, books, books,” he said.

On Saturday, France’s culture minister, Franck Riester, gave a speech comparing the event’s role in the world of comics to that of the Cannes Film Festival in cinema, and Jean-Michel Blanquer, the education minister, visited on Thursday. The attendance by government officials underscored the way the “ninth art,” as comic books are sometimes referred to in France, is not a niche pursuit but a mainstream activity.

The Angoulême festival announces a number of prizes each year, their recipients chosen by fellow comics artists. This year, for the first time, women won both of the festival’s biggest awards. A jury of seven artists selected the debut graphic novel by the American author Emil Ferris, “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters,” as winner of the Fauve d’Or, or Golden Wildcat award, for the year’s best book.

The Japanese Manga artist Rumiko Takahashi won the Grand Prix, the festival’s lifetime achievement award. Takahashi began publishing manga comics in 1978 and her books, including “Inuyasha,” about a time-traveling schoolgirl, have sold more than 200 million copies. She is only the second woman to win the prize.

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