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Title: International Comics Fair.
Author : FRANQUIN André (1924 - 1997)
Date shown: 1975
Contact copyright: International Comics Fair
International Comics Fair.
© International Comics Fair
Publication date: July 2017
Lecturer in cultural history of the contemporary Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
A poster for the "ninth art"
After Hugo Pratt, author of the poster for the first salon in 1974, André Franquin signs the 1975 poster, literally: his signature is reproduced at the bottom right of the poster on which one of his drawings is reproduced. Belgian comic book author born in 1924, Franquin was then well known to comic book lovers, in particular to readers of the Spirou's Journal for which he developed from 1946 stories of Spirou and Fantasio, and invented at the end of the 1950s the character of Gaston Lagaffe, who became central in his work. After several decades of work, his recognition as a comic book author is underway.
In 1975, the second edition of the “international comic strip fair” took place in Angoulême, a medium-sized town, prefecture of Charente, hit by the industrial crisis. The following year, literary meetings took place, followed in 1974 by a two-day "salon" bringing together French-speaking publishers and comic book authors. The model is Italian: it is the Lucca comic book festival, founded in 1965 by a Franco-Italian team, and successful edition after edition. The project, confirmed in the 1975 edition, which lasts four days (January 23-26, 1975), is twofold: to celebrate comics, described as the "ninth art", and to attract a large number of "comics" to Angoulême.
Franquin's choices reveal a desire, through the poster itself, to pay tribute to comics as a medium, as an aesthetic and as a genre, while highlighting his personal style. Original for this type of support, the “landscape” or “à la française” format (oriented in the direction of the width), evokes that of comics strips born in the United States at the end of the XIXe century: "bands" comprising drawings and texts, inserted in the last pages of periodicals and magazines. Franquin structures the poster in three vertical bands: at the top and bottom, informative elements are given, which inform the public of the show about its existence, the dates and places where it takes place for its second edition, and which identify the designer. and its publishing house Dupuis, created in 1938. The neutrality of these mentions is qualified by the three exclamation marks which punctuate the mention of the salon: a characteristic of the humorous comic strip such as the Franquin practice.
In the middle band is reproduced, in black and white, a box taken from the number 1801 of the Spirou's Journal (October 19, 1972), emblematic of the universe of Franquin: we see Gaston Lagaffe installed to sleep in a cave dug in the archives of the Spirou's Journal. The speech bubbles make the poster sound: human and animal snoring, music coming out of the transistor, enliven the scene made comical by the imminent arrival of Lagaffe's colleagues. The drawing, an example of a comic strip called "gags", also reflects the "buddy" spirit of the Angoulême salon.
Towards recognition of comics and its festival
This poster reflects a turning point in the nascent history of the international comic book fair, which in 1975 gained in temporal importance (from 2 to 4 days), material (four places including three public institutions), and international ( the Grand Prix goes to Will Eisner for The Spirit). The expected success is confirmed: 10,000 visitors, great interest from critics, publishers and authors, which grew after 1977 with the presence of Hergé who produced the poster and chaired the show.
Franquin's poster also illustrates the phenomenon of "artification" of comics: designers are beginning to be recognized as creators, and not just as illustrators. A form of stardom is developing with conferences, exhibitions, signings, and the entry of comic strips into the art market. Franquin like other Franco-Belgian authors continues to publish for young people, while inventing a comic book for adults, innovative in its aesthetics and its speech (Dark thoughts), which broadens the comic book audience and contributes to its diversification. Officially become a “festival” in 1996, Angoulême is the symbol of this recognition of comics as a legitimate cultural object.
Thierry GROENSTEEN, Awarded in Angoulême, Editions of Year 2, Angoulême, 2003.
Sylvain LESAGE, “Angoulême, the“ city that lives in its images ”? Politicization of culture and institutionalization of the festival ”, in Anaïs Fléchet, Pascale Goetschel, Patricia Hidiroglou, Sophie Jacotot, Caroline Moine, Julie Verlaine (dir.), A history of festivals (20th - 21st centuries), Publications of the Sorbonne, Paris, 2013, p. 251-264.
Francis GROUX and Jean MARDIKIAN (dir.), Beyond the BanDe! 1974-2013, how the festival changed Angoulême ! Enter the Bande, Angoulême, 2012
To cite this article
Julie VERLAINE, "Angoulême: the comic strip festival"