Saturday, January 29, 2011

The BD!

Some Very Serious Comic Book Art

What do you get when you celebrate spectacular Bande Dessinee (comic strip) art, with thousands of devoted French followers joined by over a quarter of a million foreign visitors, all of whom take over one of the most beautiful hillside cities in France for 4 days every January?

You get the International Exposition de Bande Dessinee (which everyone just refers to as "The BD".)

I have to be honest I had never heard of Angouleme, or the BD before my sequential artist daughter informed me that the largest comic art festival in Europe was held each year in the City of Angouleme France.

Making it to Angouleme

I now know exactly where Angouleme is. It is in southwest France about 60 miles from Bordeaux. And it is spectacular. 

Many of its buildings date back to the 13th century and it just drips history. But unlike a lot of similar European cities, it (so far) seems to have avoided becoming a trite tourist cliche.

Viewing the Modern City Below 
(From The Ramparts of the Old City)

Some Very Picturesque Historic Architecture

Many Post Industrial Buildings Have Been Successfully Re-Purposed

The fact that Angouleme is a mecca for sequential artists, animators and graphic artists, may in part, be rooted in its history as the hub of the French paper making industry (which dates back to the 14th century.) The paper factories came here because of the uniform temperature and volume of water found in Angouleme's local rivers.

Archival Photo Shows A Perfect Location for Paper Making

This being France, guess what the biggest use of paper is? Yep, its those damned gauloise and  gitanes cigarettes. Despite modern indoor smoking bans (Brother Give Me An A-men!) the French of all ages still seem to love their smokes. 

Good thing France has universal medical care....

Despite my worry that I may be venturing into an uber geek-a-thon, I wound up enjoying the BD immensely. I loved how seriously the art is taken. I mean once you see their wonderful year-round comic strip museum, you appreciate how serious they are about their BD.

The Parodies Exhibit in The Comic Strip Museum

Since there is no single building big enough to house the event, they put up tents and spread the festival around the entire city in 24 different venues all connected by free buses.

One of the nicest features of the BD is that artists from all over the world chat with fans while autographing and embellishing their books.

Artists Signing 

Since there are few hotels in Angouleme, most visitors wind up staying in Paris (or elsewhere) and commute each day on one of the trains arriving from all directions.

Most of the locals were warm and very happy to see their city overrun for a few days with Euro laden guests. Others seemed hell bent on running down their visitors. After two little urban assault vehicles tried to run over my feet in the crosswalk, it was all I could do to resist palming one of those little Euro's for some serious auto-graphing of my own.

Miss M in Her Mileu

Personally, I Loved the Baru Exhibit

Miss "M" now has a wheelbarrow load of new books (most in French) and I have a new t-shirt with TinTin's pup "Snowy" on it.

Tomorrow (if we can get up early enough) we plan to visit Paris' Sunday Bird Market on the Isle de la Cite. After that who knows.    

Bonsoir Mes Amis!

Roadboy's Travels © 2011

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