Angoulême 2010 Highlights
by Dash Shaw
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I apologize for the bullet/tweet-like nature of this post. It’s the only way I could get myself to write it. Frank will do a better Angoulême post later.
I was at Angoulême last year, but this was my first trip to the comics museum there. It had an exhibition of older comic originals with newer cartoonists covering the older page, plus the permanent exhibit: a timeline with a bunch of originals and books in glass cases and occasional videos. The original for this page of Johnny Craig’s “Split Personality” was especially moving. That second panel! Wobbly inky lips and cross-hatching! It’s like a pulpy Persona still.
Of course I loved seeing the Ware originals. They had a red pencil Quimby the Mouse page in the permanent collection. Ware’s exhibit at the Whitney Biennial was a life-changing experience for me. The under drawing, measuring… It’s shocking how raw the drawing is. His drawings look so clean when they’re shrunk and colored in print. In the originals they look so labored over, sometimes even crude. You can see the struggle, his thinking on the page. The Quimby original at Angoulême was such an object; the cut zipatone, the scale, the juxtaposition between the interior panels and the more illustrative background landscape. It was engaging by itself, beyond just being preparatory work for a print book.
The Cornelius Red Colored Elegy book is gorgeous. It has red spot color. All of the Cornelius books are unified—they’re clearly a line with a consistent sensibility across books—but you get the personality of the individual artist on the covers. It’s artist first, publisher second. Hayashi told me that they’ve recently released his short animations on DVD in Japan. You’d have to order them from amazon.co.jp and have a region-free dvd player to play them. He was sweet and humored my dumb questions. At festivals like this you find yourself jet-lagged in a taxi with Jose Munoz and you’re thinking, “Holy shit, what do I ask Jose Munoz? What do I ask Jose Munoz?!” and you end up just bugging him about random things. Try to milk those ten minutes for as much as you can.
The Manga Building had a One Piece exhibit, complete with cosplayers and prop sand dunes and palm trees. It was shoulder-to-shoulder packed. The whole thing had a fun energy. One Piece originals look exactly like what you’d think they would look like.
As you’ve probably heard, “dedications” (signings) are important in France, but Ruppert and Mulot have raised the bar. Ruppert did a drawing of me on the first page of the book, then turned to the last page and pulled out a pre-made stencil that marked different points. After placing dots on the last page using the stencil, he used a stamp to make a small frame at the center square dots. Then he pulled out an X-Acto knife and cut out the center of the frame and the outside areas. He glued the center of the frame to the inside back cover and then cut out the original drawing on the first page. He placed the first page portrait inside what he cut out, flipped it around and put the cut-out together, to hand me a small portrait in a paper standing frame as his “dedication.” Damn. In the States you get a drawing of the main character’s head with a word balloon saying, “Hi (your name here.)”
While I’ve acquired a lot of pulpy 60s and 70s Franco-Belgian comics, I know very little about them. 90% have cool covers and then you open it to see Caniff hackwork. But there’s some gold in that other 10%. I got some good Luc Orients last year, but the best thing I found at this Angoulême was this Michel Vaillant BD and some kind of Little Nemo homage book.
I wanted to get this Lucie Durbriano book last year and I didn’t. It annoyed me for a whole year until I went back and got it.
This woman in Germany, Ulli Lust, did a really dense, long comic about two girls on a road trip, drawn in pencil with a green spot color. It came out in German recently. Wish I could read it.