My 2014 Angoulême Diary: Day -1

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cloture 80 My 2014 Angoulême Diary: Day  1

fauve 41 My 2014 Angoulême Diary: Day  1I think I mentioned a few times that I will be going to Angoulême this year—the 41st annual Festival International Bande Deseinee, held yearly in Angoulême, France. This is the biggest comics show in Europe, as I’ve heard tell, with some 200,000 people attending. There are also 260 exhibitors and some 7000 professionals on hand. You can see the guest list here, and it goes on for page after page– hundreds of French artists but also international folks including Paul Pope, Gregory Benton, Frank Santoro, Dash Shaw, Jock, Darick Robertson, and doubtless many more whose names I missed.

I’ll be set up at the Publishers Weekly booth in the Rights Center. I’m also moderating a panel on graphic novel publishing on Thursday 1/30 at 4:30. I’lll post more info on all his closer to the date.

When I first got invited to the show, I was excited to do a “how to go to Angoulême” guide, since I don’t think a member of the press has ever done one in English. There have been rapturous reports from the inimitable D&Q Crew, and travelogs by past residentSara Glidden and current residents Jessica Abel and Matt Madden. But nothing too solid on how and why.

I am sorry to say that the process still remains somewhat murky. There are a couple of things that make going to FIBD a little difficult besides just the price of a fight to Europe. #1, it is quite early in the year so planning must take place over the holidays, a time when no one wants to think about logistics.

Second and most important, getting a place to stay for Angoulême makes getting a room at San Diego look like August in Las Vegas. This is a medieval town with a population of 44,000 when the circus isn’t in town. There are few hotels, but most people stay at AirBnBs, private homes, and whatever they can find, earlly. There isn’t much information on how to get a place to stay, as far as I can find out, because it’s all done on a “my publisher got me a room” basis, and no one wants to reveal any secrets. I will say that the festival organizers got me my room, at a small 18th century chateau where all the rooms are named after trees. Yes, try not to cry for me too much.

I can pass along a few general tips I have already learned:

— Although there are some smaller regional airports a few hours drive from town, the accepted way to get to the fest is to fly to Paris and take the train. The train costs about €100-150 depending when you book it. Early booking is advised. The train takes about three hours.

— Although Angoulême is in the South of France, don’t think bikinis and breezy scarfs. Everyone tells me it’s cold, and from previous winter experiences in Europe, I can state that old medieval buildings tend to be cold, drafty and not centrally heated. I suspect a black wool turtleneck is going to be my best friend, and I’ve already stocked up on sweatery things at Uniqlo. Granted it going to be tropical (45ºF 7ºC) compared to the Arctic single digit conditions I’m experiencing here in NYC. (Earlier today I was wearing a t-shirt, a wool sweater, a sweatshirt and under a blanket just to stay comfy IN MY APARTMENT.)

— The Festival takes over the entire town with huge exhibits and more than 400 events going on, including concerts, talks, signings and more. There is way too much to see. Planning is essential.

— Despite the fact that “going to Angouleme” is still seen as something that interests only a small group of American comics professional, I suspect it will get more accessible in the coming years. French comics publishers are eager to get better known in the English-language comics market, and I can see this is already happening. Plus as I keep hearing, this is a global culture now.

— You can have a shitty time at the show, as this fellow seems to have, but camping out in France in January sounds like a misery-optional plan. To paraphrase those Direc-TV ads: “Don’t camp out in Angoulême in January.”

— I’m going to have an awesome time because this is the greatest comics event in the world.

Stay tuned….

Comments

  1. I had a fantastic time there years ago and hope one day to be invited back. The range of talent and the way the town supports the convention are both amazing. I met a few professionals there that I still work with to this day. And yes, it gets REALLY cold there, so bundle up.

  2. Going to Angouleme was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.
    Here’s my post from two years ago: http://www.adhousebooks.com/blog/?p=291

  3. The Festival in Angoulême is great and it’s amazing to discover a whole new world of comics that don’t really reach audiences outside the French/Belgian market. The amount of publishers on the “Small-Press/ Le Nouveau Monde” tent is unbelievable. It’s a life changing experience for anyone who works with comics, or just love them.
    Fábio and I went last year, and you can find our reports about it here:
    http://fabioandgabriel.blogspot.com.br/2013/02/angouleme-part-1.html
    http://fabioandgabriel.blogspot.com.br/2013/02/angouleme-2013-video.html
    We can’t wait to go back there.

  4. Angouleme is a lot of fun. We went in 2009, along with visits to Brussels and Paris over my wife’s birthday. My posts about Angouleme: http://oletheros.com/tag/angouleme/

  5. jacob lyon goddard says:

    I’ve always wondered, how do you pronounces Angoulême?

  6. Torsten Adair says:

    Ahn Goo Lem (ah)
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/Fr-Paris–Angoul%C3%AAme.ogg

    “In French, ê changes the pronunciation of e from /ə/ to /ɛ/.”
    (In French, “bête” is the best example.)

    Is SCNF, the local train, a possibility? Cognac is 10 Euros, 40 minutes direct to Angouleme via SCNF.

  7. Chip Mosher says:

    I second what Gabriel said above. It’s fantastic and definitely opened my eyes to a whole new world of comics and comics culture. This year will be my second year in a row… looking forward to reconnecting with friends I made last year… and making new ones!

  8. I want to go one of these years, looking forward to your diary Heidi.

  9. unihiko says:

    I posted this info in comments under the dining guide, but this is perhaps the more proper location for it: the city transport association offers free shuttle buses (Navettes BD) running between the train station and the festival hotspots every 10 or 15 minutes: http://www.stga.fr/actualite/festival-de-la-bd
    And that’s not all! During the festival dates, there is also a special 1€ day ticket (ticket BD) that’s valid on all the bus lines in the area, and that you can purchase from the bus driver (see on the right: http://www.stga.fr/tickets). Might come in handy depending on where you’re staying, see the route map here: http://www.stga.fr/sites/default/files/communication/plans/2013-2014/STGAabri13.pdf (I recommend downloading, it’s a large file and takes a while to load online). The buses run often on weekdays and Saturdays, the downside seems to be that all the lines stop running at about 8 in the evening. For Sundays, there are special Sunday and holiday lines (see the smaller map on the lower right of the big one) that run once an hour.

    As for housing, the city tourist office has a link to private home accommodation offers, some still have vacancies, and the rates seem to be about the same that my bf will be paying for his hush-hush, found through professional connections b&b: http://www.angouleme-tourisme.co.uk/home-page/prepare-your-stay/accommodation/accommodation-in-private-home.aspx

  10. unihiko says:

    One more thing, found the festival shuttle’s route map which also conveniently lists where all the festival sites and exhibitions are:
    http://www.stga.fr/sites/default/files/communication/Navette%20BD%202014PMR.png

  11. ” The train costs about €100-150 depending when you book it. Early booking is advised.”
    Oh, god, you can pay way less then that. From Paris, playing with time table and if you book yur train ticket early, it’s easy to buy 30€ for a one way. It’s tricky and you have to book this from France, which means to have a french friend ready to do it from you – booking rates available from USA are way much higher than from France. That’s why, when some artist are invited at the SCARCE booth in Angouleme, I usually take care of the train tickets booking for them.

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