Tuesday, February 01, 2011


I'm back from Angoulême (via Bordeaux) and I had a brilliant time. I did ensure I packed everything I needed for the journey... everything except my camera of course. Why the hell would I need a camera?!? So, anyway, after kicking myself quite hard, I had to rely on my rather poor camera phone for the odd snap here and there but to be fair, this is such a heavily reported event my pictures would differ little from the many thousands out there... except in quality as you'll soon see.

So, last Wednesday was a very very early morning start. For a guy who's 5 yr old son wakes him at 5am to ask him deeply profound questions like "what do cows eat?" (seriously) 4am is cruelly early but I had a flight to catch. I got up and got ready as quietly as possible, contemplating getting my own back on my 5 yr old by waking him up and asking him some deeply profound question or other when the cab arrived and I was off.

I'll skip the part about arriving at the airport way too early and smooth over it... pretend it didn't happen. So, as I was saying, I landed in Bordeaux at midday and was met by Emmanuel Bouteille, who, along with Richard Saint-Martin, is Akileos. The boss. We then headed off to a signing at Mollat via Emmanuel's house (he has a bookshelf to die for). Mollat is a HUGE store. I believe its one of the biggest in France. I mean its REALLY big. And the store windows had a big promotion on for the festival.

See? Not a very good photo. Don't worry, the photo's get worse.

I signed a few books there and then it was off to Angoulême with a van full of books.

It was dark when we arrived and no I hadn't been blind folded and thrown in the back of the van. We quickly located our table and unpacked meeting up with Richard and the rest of the gang, including Julien Flamand and Mara. After setting up for the following day and after I dropped my suitcase (containing an as yet undiscovered exploded tube of toothpaste) at a gorgeous guestroom in the old town (conveniently just around the corner from a bar called Le Chat Noir) we headed off for one of the best meals I've, frankly, EVER eaten.

Cognac as a nightcap I hit the hay.

Following morning and the first day of the festival proper. We were joined by other Akileos artists and writers, including Ronan Toulhoat, Guillaume Griffon, Christian Straboni (had a great chat with him about Caniff and Robbins), Yigaël, Loïc Godart.

Now, I'll say straight off, I didn't see everything that was on show at Angoulême. I was there to sign books and that's exactly what I did besides eat incredible food and drink lots of wine. I sat and drew for I've no idea how many people from the day I got there to the day I left. My experience of the festival is not one of sight seeing and gallery hopping - although I did go to a gallery event one evening at the Maison Des Auteurs, I think on the Thursday, courtesy of artist and adventurer, Dan Berry who was on Erasmus exchange with the Ecole Supérieure de l’Image (where we marveled at the beautiful work of resident, Lorenzo Chiavini). The town itself is quite clearly marked by the event, with paintings on walls of famous European characters leaning out of windows etc. And right in the middle of it all is a bust of Hergé.

I eventually managed to catch up with Emma, Doug and Lizzie of SelfMadeHero at La Chat Noir on Friday night where we stayed up till way past our bedtimes (2am - its not the years, its the mileage) talking about scary faces in mirrors and the like. I also met Gary Northfield that evening and later on the Sunday, Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury.

I was fortunate that the tent with publishers like Dargaud, Delcourt and Glénat was right next to ours (of course this made it all the more easy for me to stay in one part of town) so I did wander over on occasion to have a gander and bought a couple of books including Les Extras De Mézieres so I was incredibly happy! Can't put the thing down, it's wonderful!

I managed to sell a LOT of books during the festival, signing and drawing in each and every one. Les Montagnes Hallucinées sold out completely. I drew a vast number of mythos beasties for a vast number of people, including one image of Cthulhu dressed in a snazzy suit, sat cross legged on a chair and drinking a cup of tea. I did also manage to doodle a little while I was there and I have, since I got home, managed to scan in my effort and color it in photoshop.

(very soon after this picture I drew Cthulhu in a suit drinking tea)
In all, Angoulême was a wonderful experience and I'm enormously grateful to my French publishers, Akileos, for inviting me out there and for looking after me. I hope to do it again next year with any luck! It was so good to see everyone again after St Malo last year and I'm pleased to say I'll be attending Quai des Bulles and meeting up with them again in October!

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