The webcomics blog about webcomics

From The Saint-Malo Comics Festival, Part The Third

We wrap up the coverage of the Quai des Bulles comics festival in Saint-Malo, courtesy of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, with an intriguing look at a boundary-breaking comic. This looks really, really good and I can’t wait for somebody in the Western Hemisphere (are you listening, :01 Books?) to grab the reprint rights.

Except for a few offsite events (for which you had to rely on the plan to get to, no signage), Quai des Bulles is quite concentrated around the Palais du Grand Large, a proper convention center with theater, auditorium, enclosed floor space for exhibitions and the like, a bar for refreshments, etc. Meanwhile, on the other side of the road (thankfully closed to traffic for the duration), a large tent housed the exhibitors: all major French-Belgian publishers (plus Urban i.e. DC) and most minor ones were there with their wares and table space for creators to sign at. Under the tent as well were booksellers specialized in original and historical editions of comics, art schools, publishers of youth books (not just comics), as well as Asmodee, because why not play a board game in between two signings?

And in order to find one’s way between all that, they featured interesting signage, here on the road between the tent and the convention center, or here once inside the convention center to further determine where to, etc. The convention in general was well run, though I did not get to interact with convention staff (other than the people checking tickets upon entry, etc.) given they required professional journalist proof to give accreditation, so I did not manage to get accredited. That did not hamper me in covering the convention from start to finish, however.

Highlights of the day:

  • A meetup with Pascal Jousselin set up (again) by N Masztaler. It was even more conversational than the previous day’s with Marie Spénale, not to mention in an Irish pub¹ (which did not lend itself to the deployment of the Fleen French Mobile Newsdesk, i.e. an iPad and wireless keyboard), so it was not transcribed; but of note from his background was the fact he was part of a comic project with fellow creator Brüno where they would each draw a page and send it to the other for him to continue, and they set up a mailing list for the public to follow the project, before it was eventually published on paper.

    Currently, he works on Imbattable (unbeatable), which he introduces as the first real comics superhero. How so? Well, best let Editions Dupuis show you, and observe how you hardly need to understand what is being said in these pages (and he notes that it is hardly a good investment for his publisher, given it won’t ever be able to cash in on that sweet, sweet movie or animation adaptation money²). I did get the book (volume two and three are in preparation), and a review is in order.

    I first heard of Imbattable on Twitter (via Boulet, most likely), and I then got to see a few more pages since they were part of the exhibition around the work of Scott McCloud that I covered as part of Lyon BD: how best to show how comics reading works than by showing examples of how it can be broken? Still, I was skeptical: I was afraid such tricks would turn into an easy way out of situations (think Tex Avery), so an entire comic book around that? But I was wrong: not only it is brilliant, but in fact it has to obey twice the constraints as usual, as the reading has to make sense whether you follow Imbattable’s sequence, or the regular sequence; each page is a marvel of construction.

    And they spared no expense: at some point an action seemed not to make sense … until I exclaimed: “Oh come on, he could not possible have dared to do that, no way, no how!”

    I lifted the page to check.

    Turns out, he did dare.

    I won’t spoil it; I will just note that the printer must have hated Jousselin and his publisher for it (that, or they comfortably billed for the additional printing pass).

    Furthermore, while it started out as a gag a day week whenever³ without necessarily a book as the goal, after a few pages it became obvious there was something there and (in a process that webcomics often follow as well) Jousselin started expanding both the setting and in some cases the page count of each story. And while keeping the original concept as well as some aspects that harken back to the early days of comics when everything seemed possible, he did manage to insert some meaningful stories, such as the unusual way the one who will become his sidekick is first introduced, or the hardly black and white situations Imbattable ends up finding himself in (though Jousselin mentions Imbattable is a bit on the naive side).

    And all the while, Imbattable manages to remain accessible to the youngest readers. Jousselin told the first book did not publish as soon as the pages were ready, as the sales team got stuck on how to market it, and initially thought going towards a connoisseur market, which I found silly: while it is true that classic creators such as Pétillon, Gotlib, Fred, Greg, Hergé (in Quick Et Flupke), or Windsor McCay if I remember correctly have used approaching techniques, so have children magazines in the less distant past, which shows children easily get it. To me this work joins the lowbrow and the highbrow (remember its presence in the McCloud exhibition), the new and the experienced readers, the young and the old. Buy it.

  • Watching the Atelier Mastodonte perform its show; in fact they did one each day around noon where they would first invoke the names of Franquin, Bagieu, Achdé, etc. so as to get help with their tendinitis, impending tax reform (not a U.S.A.-exclusive concern), etc., then give each other drawing challenges, challenge the public with quizzes (in relation to comics of course) such as “for each of these words, it is the name of a comics creator, or an onomatopoeia … or possibly both!”, or give silly conferences such as Hergé’s last message, where Lewis Trondheim would claim to have found the secret message for the future of comics that Hergé hid deeply in his Tintin books but left clues for. It felt like standup, especially as they were simply on a podium with an audience made of the people eating at the tables of the bar built in the convention center.

    Atelier Mastodonte is also a comic in Spirou from the same people where the members each draw an update before another draws the next, either building off the previous one or starting something else; it purports to tell the story of the creators themselves working together in a studio. Of course, in true autobioish fashion they actually work in their own respective cities rather than a studio in Marcinelle (Dupuis’ headquarters), but Jousselin, who is part of the atelier, noted during the meetup that he ends up spending more time on the internal blog/discussion board where scripts are coordinated than he does discussing with his actual studiomates in Rennes … even if it is not available on the web, Atelier Mastodonte is in a way an online creation.

  • In the last few hours of the show, murdering my wallet with sweet, sweet comics loot.

Spam of the day:

Tinder [incomprehensible Cyrillic script]

Oh, right, I totally forgot that I signed up for a hookup app in a language I neither read nor speak.

_________
¹ Special mention to the lady who, upon discovering the setup (a side room of the pub with only bar tables, no “real” table), told the person she was with: Ah he’s not doing a signing, let’s go elsewhere.” within earshot of everyone.

² Though after someone asked how it could work anyway, we brainstormed and your correspondent mentioned how in Mel Brook’s Spaceballs the titular Spaceballs try and look into future events by watching the VHS tape of their own movie, and others mentioned how in Looney Tunes or Tex Avery shorts the characters would sometimes peer into the future of the film roll, or escape it, or even possibly cut it out entirely to escape a gruesome fate.

³ Before they get published in books, Imbattable stories are published one by one in the Spirou weekly periodical, and Jousselin has an agreement with his publisher that they come whenever they are ready, without any set schedule: he wants the idea to be right each time without repeating himself.

From The Saint-Malo Comics Festival, Part The Second Subpart The Second

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has finished transcribing the discussion panel mentioned yesterday, and it’s an extensive, illuminating look at the present and future of making/publishing French-Belgian comics. Dig in and enjoy.

The meetup began by an introduction of Spénale: her blog, and her first book, Heidi In Spring, which is already in the selection for an award, to which Spénale reacts that this is big for a first book.

Why start a blog?
When she was a teenager it was all the rage, and she opened one in her last year of junior high (ca. 2004-05), and it became the means through which she got contacts; and by now it is necessary to have at least an Internet presence. Today she mostly uses Instagram, and Facebook like (most) everybody else; Twitter only for completeness. She still keeps the blog for longer pieces. She does have a YouTube channel, though it is still an experiment.

Is it easy to make a YouTube video?
It is difficult because she has to learn everything as she goes along (framing the shot, editing, sound recording with a phone, etc.). She feels the need to comment her drawing process, so it takes time to create.

Does the fact she publishes these drawings change the way she draws and what she decides to draw?
A bit, but not fundamentally: she also draws full-time as an illustrator so it has a limited influence.

Is it worthwhile given the time spent on it?
Facebook killed the blogs in a way, so she had to get on social networks. It takes time, but since she would draw those anyway, just posting them takes little time; now on to whether it is worthwhile …

So what is it useful for?
It gives a visibility, which is always useful, but it does not bring anything to her work proper; however professionally it serves to grow her contact list an an illustrator, and in particular allows potential clients to discover new sides of her rather than have them always ask the kind of drawings she already provides professionally. You have to be careful not get carried away chasing “likes”. Not everything is published on social networks, and that includes personal drawings she keeps for herself.

Did her online activities help her getting into professional networks?
It is important to have a place to show one’s work, but are social networks the best for that? Blogs remain important for that purpose. However social networks matter to stay in contact. They matter as well as to get peer recognition.

Is the blog only a display window?
In the beginning she would tell random stuff, with a lot of experimentation; now that she’s read by clients and colleagues, she has polished what she publishes, indeed it is mostly a display window. But it remains important as a potential outlet to express herself.

She does not limit her instructional comments to her videos: she showed the making-of of Heidi In Spring on her blog, and it also sometimes shows how client illustrations are made step by step. Are those important for her?
It something she both loves to make and loves to see from others; a finished illustration is boring by itself, she wants to show more.

Is the instructional work she does useful for her own illustration work?
Not directly, but as a youth illustrator she often draws instructional pieces, even if she does not write them, so that helps there. She is not interested in comics reporting per se.

Does she work digitally? (Yes) But she does publish traditional media pieces (watercolors, etc.), is it a way to maintain her skills?
Digital is a work requirement, and a computer also helps to create very clean artwork for best legibility, but hand drawing is possible in more places… and is more photogenic. And she occasionally has whims, such as watercolors.

What hardware does she use, and how?
A 16″ Wacom Studio Pro; Manga Studio for most drawing work, including the initial sketches, and Photoshop for colors. It is not very transportable, but the screen is top of the line: beforehand she used a model with quite thick glass protection, the current model has a much thinner “gap” as well as smooth surface where the pen slides, which make her feel like she really is drawing. Photoshop is a bit slow but it works OK.

So she had to give up on Inktober this year; does the Internet facilitate experimentations with its immediate feedback?
Indeed, it allows to gauge crowd reaction. Heidi In Spring started on Instagram, then she started going What if I told small scenes?; people were asking for more of those and she deduced there was something there, which she materialized in a book some time later.

What is the makeup of her following, age-wise?
Many teenagers follow her on Instagram, especially when Cyprien links to her. Hard to tell beyond that.

Has she had any rights issues with her work?
Twitter and Instagram would seem to be reserving more and more rights for content posted there, and it is unclear what they could do; it might be better not to post there … but it would seem difficult for them to actually take advantage of it. And of course third parties are not allowed to repost her content without her prior permission, some do but that is illegal.

How did the book itself come about?
The intent was there from the beginning, but the pages themselves were rearranged and redrawn anyway. She showed the project to Yannick Lejeune (who also managed Festiblog/WeDoBD [Author’s note: the demise of which your correspondent laments every day]), who had already seen some of her work: could we see each other for a project? The tone changed a bit: it became sort of an [initiation], so it was not necessarily obvious to tell what it would become solely from the project or the blog. The blog was mostly useful to get that first meeting.

Is it a risk for her activity as youth illustrator do be doing explicit work?
She does not feel that way, in fact it might even be in continuity with her own work. But of course she warns on social networks when potentially adult content is posted.

And what was the goal?
Roughly, to take a character who is a sort of childhood icon, and show she has to become an adult at some point.

What did the blog bring on the writing side?
The blog was pretty much her starting point to do comics work: she is confident in her illustration skills, but she would never have dared to propose doing a full story without her blog experience under the belt.

Is she censoring herself on the Internet?
Not really, no.

How much research did she have to do on the teenage stage? Did she have to get back to her own teenage years?
Of course, but she also read a lot of psychology (such as Françoise Dolto), which helped for the general framework of the book: when she was experimenting on Instagram Heidi lived short stories but otherwise lived in a status quo, now how to have a scenario that leads to a proper end? All her reading allowed her to create an evolution by better understanding how a teenager works. She also came back to the original novel and researched on all adaptations of Heidi. There is a bit of her, but she intended it to be universal. And she gets to begin it from a known situation: that from the novel.

And what were her goals with regard to Heidi’s sexuality?
The goal is foremost the emancipation of Heidi, sexuality is a mean among others towards this end, which is necessary of course: Heidi has desires. But it is only part of the goal.

There is something of a “likes” culture among teenagers today; are they more egocentric now?
She does not know, but she met an 11-year old boy who wanted to draw and was feeling the pressure as if grown-up expectations were put on him, this has always existed but tends to be magnified by social networks. But Internet also means even teenagers in remote areas have access to an immense wealth of resources. And on the other hand, being this much in contact means there tends to be a concentration towards a few drawing styles (one being for instance the influence of Steven Universe).

So everybody is watching each other, are some chasing “likes” as an activity?
Yes, not necessarily among French-speaking creators, but yes: some creators make a living solely from content on social networks and Patreon. Aside: she does not want to open one, as she gets the feeling only her family would tip … these creators tend to play to their audience, and tend to format their content: “feel-good” cartoons, staying on the formula that worked before, etc.

Is there a risk for Tipeee/Patreon to bring about dictatorship of the public, detrimentally to the artist’s vision?
She considers that the creators who take that into account are not creating auteur works in the first place.

What about chasing for likes?
There is some risk of a bubble, but it will probably blow over.

What if Heidi had had Facebook?
Not sure what that would have changed, however if Heidi had had Tinder, that would be another story …

Is she interested in Turbomedia, etc?
She likes animation and tries to train herself, but she does not want to use digital gadgets solely for the purpose of using digital gadgets: she feels the need to respect sequential art. She finds Summer to be interesting, even if the music and animations are probably superfluous in her opinion, the concept is very interesting. But she can’t help but note it ended up being published on paper in the end …

How does she see the possibility of publishing French-Belgian comic books on tablets? To which this correspondent added: Beyond the obvious size issues. [Author’s note: A4 is simply unreadable on anything smaller than a 12.9″ iPad Pro]
Even if the traditional 48 pages A4 format is not suited, there is worthwhile content to read, such as reporter comics; if it does not sell, it means readers are not convinced.

If Delcourt had rejected the project, how would she have published Heidi In Spring?
She wanted to work with a publisher, especially for her first book, so she would have tried harder to find a publisher, and eventually switched to another project if she couldn’t have managed to find one: self-publishing is an enormous amount of work … maybe eventually she will consider it. Doing so requires pleasing a public in order to have a sufficiently large community for that, though, which represents a loss of liberty somewhat.

On that matter, she signed very early in the project: it was barely developed at that point, and she was left to develop it with a lot of freedom from the publisher, even if he did bring an indispensable help as an outside observer: he can tell her The page does not make sense to me, which is hard to see on one’s own work.

How is she managing her social presence? In order to be more visible, etc.
Some tricks work better than others: front pose rather than a side shot, a girl [drawing or painting] rather than a boy, pretty rather than ugly, watercolors, staging the sheet of paper improves things too .. but that is not the goal. She has a community based on [involvement]: Here is something just for you. She answers comments from time to time, but maybe she shouldn’t: it is a huge time sink.

What is the French-Belgian comic book of the future?
There is a trend in the French-Belgian world today towards knowledge/non-fiction/reporter books, but maybe it’s only a temporary trend. Maybe one day French-Belgian digital comics will be viable, but that day has not come. Maybe things won’t change and the French-Belgian comic book of the future will simply have a pretty cover.

Now you know why we waited a day to run this panel report! Thanks as always to FSFCPL for doing yeoman’s work in keeping all of us on this side of the Atlantic up to date in bandes dessineés. I was particularly surprised — although perhaps should not have been — to learn about the influence that Steven Universe has on non-anglophone artists. Now I have to wonder how difficult it is to translate all of those songs that are so critical to their respective stories.


Spam of the day:

Who Is Hotter, Vlada Or Victoria? If you.. arent able to take-in the C0MMERCIAL-Adv-ertizement due to images not loaded? You’ll need-to Touch here

Yes, I am so eager to see purported Russian mail-order brides that I will click on your entirely not-sketchy link. Right.

From The Saint-Malo Comics Festival, Part The Second Subpart The First

What’s better than transatlantic comics coverage? Nothing! Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin continues his reportage from Saint-Malo, with the first part of Day Two coverage, with more to come.

Saint-Malo is not a big city; if you’ve never heard of it before, one of its claim to fame is that it was the home harbor for famed corsairs such as Robert Surcouf. And it is because the Falklands were often visited by sailors from there that in France we call them: les îles malouines (which is why the Argentinians call them the Malvinas).

But Quai des Bulles is big. They claim to be the second biggest French-Belgian comics festival, and I have no trouble believing them: just look at that program, list of expected creators, and exhibitors floor plan. And let me tell you, after a while the sheer number of people meant the ambiance under the tent was quite warm, even though it was cold outside.

There were not many webcartoonists present; for instance, this year Lapin had no booth. But this was more than compensated for by excellent programming which will be covered in the highlights.

  • Catching a glimpse of Maester, who came to sign for one hour even though he is still recovering from a stroke that left his left side paralyzed. Kudos, master.
  • A fairy tale (East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon, if my references are correct) performance with professional conductor and musician, with scenes drawn live by Obion.
  • A “conference” by “Prof” Bernstein and James on the art of the joke … which was itself silly, or at least ostensibly so: it is true that context and timing matter a lot for joke delivery for instance. It took place in the same auditorium (the amphitéatre Maupertuis in the Palais du Grand Large) as the Montaigne event from the previous day, and I must thank the designers of that auditorium for including a power outlet and a folding tablet for each seat, greatly facilitating this hack pseudojournalism activity. [Editor’s note: I didn’t make him say that, but it makes me very, very happy.]
  • A meetup with Marie Spénale set up by N. Masztaler on the matter of new publishing means [Editor’s note: transcription coming soon; the translation on this one is tricky]; in attendance was only a small cohort of about a dozen people where everyone could ask questions, and many did (your correspondent included). It ended up going over the planned hour for it by half an hour, though no one (least of all your correspondent) seemed to mind.
  • A memorial exhibition for Michel Plessix, local creator who created the poster image for this year’s festival before his untimely death in August of this year. While he had a varied career (as recounted by that exhibition), he was best know for his comics adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows (that is his representation of Toad that can be seen in the poster). The exhibition included, as customary, a number of tribute pieces (written or drawn) from many fellow comics creators and professionals.
  • Finally, a drawn concert with Volo (musical instruments) and Grégory Panaccione (drawing instruments).

We’ll continue with Day Two coverage tomorrow, as FSFCPL brings us the details on panel on new methods of publishing. Small audience discussions yield the best questions, but boy are they a pain to transcribe, much less translate. As always, we at Fleen are grateful for FSFCPL’s extensive efforts.


Spam of the day:

Hey guys!!!
designs and builds specialty lines of lead oxide production equipment, material handling systems, battery related process machinery, parts, and accessories for the battery, pigment, glass, and chemical industries.

I am haunted by the missing start of that sentence. Who designs and builds these lines of lead oxide production equipment? I must know!

From The Saint-Malo Comics Festival, Part The First

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has been out committing acts of journalism¹, this time from the Saint-Malo Comics Festival. He shares with us his report from Day One below.

Friday, day one of Quai des Bulles, the Saint-Malo comics festival, was not a professional day: everyone could come, though of course that included a lot of children (it was a school holiday) since not everyone can afford to take a day off work. While the day started slowly (not much was scheduled in the morning), it had very interesting programming:

  • One hour with Marion Montaigne, an interview by Arnaud Wassmer, on the topic of her latest project In The Space Suit of Thomas Pesquet, which is entirely transcribed below.
  • An interesting panel on the latest developments of knowledge/world discovery comics. In fact one of the panelists, Anne-Lise Combeaud, the author of Philocomix, told she came from the blogs BD world, and that influenced how she created the comic (trying to experiment within the constraints of the page in particular), and we were able to discuss that experience in the signing that followed at the publisher’s booth (Rue de Sèvres).

One Hour With Marion Montaigne
After introducing Montaigne, Thomas Pesquet, and the project, it took the form of an interview:

Who came up with the idea?
Around September 2015 Montaigne was busy on the Prof Moustache animated project as well as with its latest collection, and wanted to escape this character a bit; and at the same time she wanted to deal more with space matters and for this purpose started meeting with people working for CNES (France space agency), such as the teams who have instruments on the Mars Curiosity rover … or the people in charge of answering UFO sighting mails.

And in particular, astronaut coaches. And it turns out the training to become an astronaut is quite hard. Then Pesquet came up in the conversation, and it turned out he had commented once on one of her notes to confirm that it reflected his experience. Let’s invite him! After a first missed connection, he was able to come to her studio, about one year before he was to take off, which means he was already intensely preparing for it.

The book itself: how can the whole experience be rendered on paper?
Montaigne got to travel and watch the training in Cologne (where the ESA, European Space Agency, training center is located), she had to go to Russia as well, etc. And then have it be proofread. Her aim is to give back to the public what she was told or able to witness: the astronauts through their experience.

Was it a pedagogical intent from Pesquet as well?
He has, by contract, to explain what he does. And while it is not obvious to shoot (staging for film is hardly compatible with the training realities, e.g. when in a centrifuge), and even documentaries have a tendency not to show some unglamorous realities, such as showing classroom time or Russian revision time, comics have no such limitations: they can more easily show more down to Earth aspects that are an important part of daily life.

Is it a childhood obsession?
It is clear this is a job for which you have to have incredible motivation. And And this preparation takes up their whole life, even for those who end up being rejected in the end, which represents most candidates. Not to mention space life represents but about 1% of the total time on the job.

Are the test designers as sadistic as seen in the book?
Both Montaigne and Pesquet came up with this representation; but it has to be said the tests themselves are weird: the version shown in the book is in fact when it is still easy! And the psychological tests are designed not have any discernible logic so as to be unsettling.

One collective test, not shown in the book, involved candidates from multiple nations trying to solve a math problem: a boat in low tide has to rely on a ferry to load cargo, but at the same time the tide rises so conditions change, then there is the matter of the trains that take up the cargo … the result is that after 20 minutes they had not made any progress, and the aim was not to see who could take the lead, because that is not necessarily the kind of player they want in the teams.

So, they are not looking for astronauts with a devil-may-care attitude and an oversized ego …
Don’t get her wrong, Pesquet is on the level. But it is true the prototype of the 60s astronaut (usually the best Air Force test pilots) who left for one or two days by themselves is no longer what they are looking for. Here they have to live in reduced space with five other people for six months: they can’t very well go out for a walk. So they are looking for people who are confident in themselves but easy going with others, and with conflict resolution skills. For instance, they practice with serious video games which have simultaneous competitive and cooperative aspects.

How to represent tests?
One of the issues is showing the time scale of the tests: they take place over months, even years, there are cutoff stages, and they do not necessarily know which tests they will be training for next.

How about the way they learn Russian?
They go in space in a Russian rocket, so they have no choice but to learn the language in the course of a year. They do so in an old mining town about one hour away from Cologne, and they, about 35-40 years old, end up in the same classroom as the local students.

Is the vision of NASA as space’s Hogwarts really Pesquet’s vision?
Everyone has a vision of NASA as that mythical institution, which to be honest they maintain themselves with museums for instance. While there, she was able to see space suit testing rooms, as well as the gigantic pools where astronauts train on different modules for space work.

Which makes sense, because everything has to be relearned in space.
Including the most insignificant, such as the fact they have to wear diapers, and since their bodies will be put to the test in space, they have to be put to the test on the ground and sometimes it is their bodies that fail them.

While NASA feels like Top Gun, for the Space City in Russia the imagery is rather that of Gagarin.
Indeed, in there Gagarin is Serious Business. Russians are in general very superstitious and so have a number of rituals, from the watching of an old, boring documentary The White Dawn, up to urinating one last time at the side of the road just where Gagarin is said to have done so just before leaving for space.

Pesquet first participated in missions where he was a backup.
Indeed, the others from his class where chosen as main participants before him, up until 2014 where he was selected as main for a future mission that ended up taking off in 2016.

And so he joined the club of those who cannot wait but take off again.
Well, maybe not right the day after he landed, but indeed there is something of an elite sportsman in them, in that they see these as challenges to do again or even do once better.

Let’s talk about the centrifuge.
It is used to prepare for takeoff and landing, which are the two most dangerous phases, and so the most anguishing ones, they have to manage the buttons while being subjected to enormous accelerations (up to ten times normal gravity), or sometimes just a joystick when they can’t lift their arm any more; sometimes they use a stick.

He told the story of an astronaut he personally knew: following a bad separation her capsule had a slightly incorrect reentry angle, resulting in them taking 10G of acceleration and a landing rough enough that their capsule burned a field in deep Kazakhstan … so they have to be prepared for the worst.

So the artist has to show the reality behind the communication.
More generally render their personal experience: spinning seat, centrifuge, etc. That they take as a sports challenge.

And there is the matter of learning how to move in in microgravity.
Movies tend to show a misleading image of that: you can go quite fast in microgravity! So they have to deliberately pace themselves. Nevertheless they go through a learning phase when they hit walls, etc.

And how is it to represent that for the artist?
It’s interesting, you have a number of interesting situations, such as the collective meal where they are all eating at the table, and some are around, and some are shown below and above it.

And what about the contents of mission itself?
Many photos, but it is only a slight portion of their work: they work a lot, but during the weekend they play and don’t have a lot to do. So he ends up sending his photos with the captions over the weekend and they are published all through the week by the public communication teams while he is in fact working. It’s about the only interesting thing they can do …

The mission itself ends up not taking a lot of space in the book.
First of course Montaigne couldn’t take up very much of his time while he was there (and of course no way to go there for a documentation trip), and besides the work is quite routine and ends up compressing well.

Did his photos help for documentation?
Indeed, and in fact he is not the only one who takes them; he has to work sometimes.

So explain how the artist tried here to render one of his vehicular exits.
The aim was to try and render the experience of a vehicular exit with in particular the immense scale of the station. Not directly represented is the fact it turns out spending time (about seven hours) in the space suits is far from ideal: the decreased pressure means they end up releasing gas, they sweat a lot, etc. And of course his fellow astronauts omitted to tell him about it beforehand …

And here we see them back on Earth
When they are back on Earth they are really white, he was not that badly out of shape but they do take some punishment in the landing phase, which they compare to a car crash (flips, etc.); once on land they compare their state to a hangover to the tenth power … and meanwhile all the cameras are on them.

Did he recognize himself and his experience in the book, in the end?
He does have a sense of humor, or he would not have accepted in the first place … he meant for these kind of issues (important or not) to be represented.

No self-insertion?
No, that was not the matter, as there is already a lot to tell, and it was not obvious how to do so anyway: which way to put herself? So rather than directly retelling how she herself was informed, might as well build a narrative.

Did the author have to remove sensitive information, e.g. top secret stuff?
No, she did not have to remove anything of the sort, she assumes she was not told of such things in the first place. Some intimate aspects where not told, but that’s it.


Spam of the day:

Life Insurance Rates Quicker

Are you trying to tell me something?

_______________
¹ He journalised.

Live From Europe

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has been busy, and we’re the better for it. It’s been about a year and a half since he introduced Fleen readers to Maliki, which is typical of French autobioish webcomics — not necessarily true to life, possibly exaggerated to the point of riduculousness in search of the funny. Really, nearly the entire French webcomics community would feel right at home in Jeffrey Rowland’s reality.

And if there’s one thing that FSFCP loves as much as introducing we New World types to French webcomics, it’s digging down into how things are made. With that in mind, he sought Chloé and Sergane, who are contributing the English translations of Maliki. Take ‘er away, FSFCPL!

This interview was conducted in English over Twitter DMs on September 26th 2017; it has been edited for house style.

Fleen: Could you introduce yourselves to Fleen readers?

Chloé: Hello Fleen readers, I’m Chloé, originally from Bordeaux in France, but I’ve been living in Dublin for 9 years now.

Sergane: Hi everyone, I am a digital artist currently working at ILM. I’ve lived in the Pacific Island of Vanuatu for all my childhood and studied in France. I’ve been living in London for three years.

Fleen: Maliki strips were historically translated by Mali herself, then about a year ago a small mention Fan translation started appearing at the bottom of new English strips. Can you tell us how the collaboration came to be?

Sergane: At the time I was listening every day to the Maliki radio and I was often in the chat room speaking with fellow fans, many of which became trusted friends. One day Becky approached us asking if anyone was bilingual in English to help her out with the translations and I said I was. I’ve been doing them alongside Becky ever since.

Chloé: That’s so cool. I was bold and DMed Maliki on Twitter asking if they’d like a hand.

Sergane: Chloé arrived a few months ago to propose her services, as she is a professional translator. Her input proved invaluable, as she managed to get our work truly to the next level. The translations are now much more efficient and punchy than they were when I was on my own. I was doing my best and had no idea it could be so improved.

Fleen: That leads into my next question: how do you split the work between you two?

Chloé: Well, since I joined, Sergane has been quite busy getting married and all, so I do most of the translations and he proofreads, comes up with fancy titles, and so on. Mascot Hell’s Kitten was fully translated by Sergane and I proofread.

Sergane: So now it’s usually Chloé who does most of the heavy lifting, and I correct after her. Sometimes we trade places but she can work on the translation right away on Monday evening [Author’s note: when Maliki has just completed the strip, and it is posted to Tipeee sponsors] while I can only usually work during my breaks on Tuesday. Also, yeah, I got married and also because living in London is so wonderful I get to move house another time, it’s been five times in three years and it’s never a pleasant experience. London is a very expensive and demanding city.

Chloé: Don’t come near Dublin …

Fleen: So in a way, Chloé is bringing her professional translator skills, and Sergane his native English upbringing cred?

Sergane: I don’t know, most of all I think it’s good that we know we can both rely on the other. The most important thing is to get the job done as best as we can and on time. The key online is consistency. And also the idea is to lighten Maliki and Becky’s load so they can focus on their craft.

Chloé: Hem, I probably bring the native fluency and Sergane the pop culture references to be fair. I haven’t worked as a professional translator for about 8 years now, but I did get good methodologies. Yeah, I think we’re getting faster, more consistent and altogether more efficient.

Fleen: That’s interesting, because I wanted to ask, what are your latitudes to replace references, e.g. songs or poetry, as seen as recently as Sensory Combo and That time of year thou mayst in me behold?

Chloé: That depends on what Maliki intended in the strip. If it’s just a song she liked, we can localize it as we like (she gets final say), but if the reference or song has a specific meaning for the strip, then it’s the proper localization work that starts. What does it says, who is the target audience, what would an English speaker recognize, etc.

Sergane: So this is a great question, we have a lot of latitudes, and when we feel we’re going overboard we get approval directly from Maliki. Mascot was the hardest to translate. The language is fairly simple but there are so many injokes and references and puns it sometimes drove me crazy trying to find something that worked. Other than that, first you need to spot the reference in French and sometimes they can be quite subtle, so what we try to do is adapt the jokes to an English-speaking world culture.

Sergane: So the title of this week’s strip is a good example. First we wanted to simply use the translation from Verlaine but I did some digging and found this famous sonnet by Shakespeare and thought it would speak better to our English readers than a translation of Verlaine.

Chloé: Mascot was soo tough … the double-entendres in particular.

Fleen: I feel your pain … What kind of technical constraints do you have, for space in particular?

Sergane: Space was an issue at first, especially for me, as you may have seen I like my long and drawn out sentences, so I would sometime make a sentence longer than needed just to make sure the meaning got through. Now with Chloé it’s much easier and normally, English uses less space than French so it’s not that complicated. And when we go overboard, Becky tells us and we correct on the spot.

Chloé: Not that much to be honest. Becky is able to adjust the size of the speech bubbles a little so that helps. It can be a bit hard to have the same meaning in the same amount of characters in both languages.

Sergane: See, she sums it all up nice and tight, Chloé is a godsend!

Fleen: Yes, I did the converse for both comics and computer user interfaces, and it’s impossible not to be longer at times when going from English to French, it’s easier when going to English.

Fleen: Have you felt some pressure for particularly significant strips, such as Over the Rainbow?

Sergane: Nope, never felt pressure of any kind. Becky is really kind and when a big strip is coming our ways she tries to warn us and gives us an early access to the draft so we can prepare. It’s always been quite smooth.

Chloé: The first Mascot strip though, I was quite worried of how it would be received by the public. But true, Becky is amazing! I keep plaguing her for Word docs because it’s quicker than going back and forth on the strip.

Sergane: I wasn’t really. The Maliki fans are usually the kindest people you’ll ever meet.

Chloé: Also, we’re building a translation memory on a computer assisted translation tool, so that should we get hit by a bus, something remains.

Fleen: What is the turnaround time when it’s not a “big strip”?

Chloé: Fairly quick if I have a Word doc.

Sergane: The deadline is Tuesday evening [Author’s note: at the same time the French strip publishes to the public]. The deadline deadline of all deadline would be before midnight.

Chloé: Howler was about 1800 words so that took a good 4 hours.

Sergane: I spend usually up to two hours on a big strip, much much less on the smaller ones. Proofreading is quite quick though I have to compare with the strip to make sure nothing was omitted. It’s really easy to miss a bubble.

Chloé: That and me forgetting words randomly …

Fleen: What are the terms of your arrangement with the Maliki Corp?

Chloé: They keep us in the basement alongside Souillon [Author’s note: Maliki’s representative for signings and other public events]. When we’re nice we get a few fish-heads.

Sergane: I get to chit chat a lot and I quite love to chit chat. Also the basement is quite nice and snug and cozy if you like dark damp underground caves.

Chloé: The basement is much nicer now that they’ve moved. 5 stars basement, running water and hammocks. And the cats visit a lot. Fëanor has a soft spot for my hammock.

Fleen: Have you been implied in Maliki activities other than the strip proper (that you can share with us, of course)?

Chloé: A few things that in translation we would call metadata. Bits and pieces around the website, and announcements.

Sergane: There is a huge open world video game and a movie but I can’t speak about those, there is also a Netflix live action show in 7 seasons but it’s still in preproduction. I can’t say anything about those either and I may be totally lying.

Sergane: But on a more serious note, nothing right now. There was Mascot and it’s been going on for a while but right now it’s pretty quiet.

Fleen: And one last question for the road: do you have any personal projects you would like to share?

Chloé: Sergane’s the artistic one. I just write blogs about recruitment.

Sergane: I’m currently working on Ready Player One and it’s a lot of fun and work. I hope people enjoy the movie. Other than that I do write but it’s mostly in French. The only thing I have is a DeviantArt account. But with my job I don’t have much time to work on my projects, but sometimes I had a thing or two, mostly for fun.

Fleen thanks FSFCPL, Chloé, and Sergane. If you haven’t been reading Maliki, check it out.


Spam of the day:

20% Off Skid Steer Asphalt and Concrete Tools

I keep getting special offers for heavy roadwork machinery and honestly? I kind of love it.

Hey Kids, What Day Is It? FSFCPLday!

Webcomics are, naturellement, a world-wide phenomenon; we at Fleen are pleased to bring you the latest news on the French webcomics scene, courtesy of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin.

  • Montpellier¹ might not seem like a big city, but it does house a vibrant comics community, of which at least Paka (corny, untranslatable puns, with some exceptions) and Fabrice Erre (the life of a history and geography teacher in high school) maintain webcomics. These are very much anchored in local life … which also means they are unlikely to ever be translated (corny puns don’t help, either).

    But earlier this year they have been (re-)joined by Yllya (a previous veteran of comic blogs), another Montpellier dweller, who tells us about her Happy Family and in particular their daughter .. Their troll, pizza-hating, job-threatening, just plain evil daughter. Not only are those are available in English for your reading pleasure, but you can see the author improving her English strip after strip, up to a point it will soon be flawless. Highly recommended.

  • Not only do Agat Films et Ex Nihilo produce the animated version of Tu Mourras Moins Bête (of which the second season has just started airing), they also unveiled a few images of their adaptation of Les Culottées on the occasion of the Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, and they seem to be doing a great work of adapting Pénélope Bagieu’s style. They are also there in order to look for foreign broadcasters; no word as yet on that front, but we at Fleen will be sure to keep you posted.

Many thanks to FSFCPL, and come back tomorrow for an analysis of the Girls With Slingshots omnibus Kickstart; we’re a little short of 24 hours (and thus outside the window to calculate the FFFmk2), but considering that (as of this writing) it’s sitting at US$97,824, I’m going to guess that the final total is: large.


Spam of the day:

Your 2017 Transunion, Equifax and Experian Credit-Scores as of Sep 16

Weird. In the aftermath of the Eqiufax breach, there’s plenty of disclaimers on the sites of Transunion, Equifax, and Experian about how they maintain credit histories, but do not themselves calculate credit scores, which are determined by outside algorithms. It’s almost like you don’t actually represent these bureaus and don’t know how they work. I’ll certainly give you all my personally identifying and financial information!

_______________
¹ Full disclosure: you correspondent studied there for two years and has a number of relatives living in the area.

Welcome Returns For A Friday

Hey, the weather is distinctly non-Augustlike and I want to get out there, so how about a couple of quick pointers and we all enjoy the weekend? Got two things to share.

  • Great news from Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson, who’ve been away from one of their signature creations for too damn long. Capture Creatures has been incomplete and hiatused for too damn long … two years or so by my count. I have theories¹ as to why this is, but Gibson and Dreistadt are too polite to confirm these suppositions.

    But good news:

    Capture Creatures returns in 2018!

    I’ll try to get a confirmation if this is a relaunch, a continuation of the interrupted original run, or something else. Since I’m on the far end of the continent from Gibson & Dreistadt, I won’t be able to use my traditional technique of buying them drinks and hoping they volunteer something². In the meantime, dust off the old issues and refamiliarize yourself with Jory and Tamzen in anticipation. 2018 cannot come too soon.

  • From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, a little breaking news about the insanest fight manga to not come from Japan, Last Man:

    Last Man [the animated series, last mentioned here] will air in English on [streaming app] VRV starting August 25th [i.e.: today] at 6:00pm ET, and director Jérémie Périn will be a special guest at Crunchyroll Expo [running today through Sunday at the Santa Clara Expo Center).

    As previously mentioned, Last Man (the book series) is batshit insane and good, and the fact that the tie-in series will be available to those of us on this side of the Atlantic is welcome news. Now to wait for the final volumes to get finished, translated, and released because boy howdy! Book 6 ended on one hell of a cliffhanger and I needs me some closure.


Spam of the day:

Free Trial Radar

Whoa, you’re giving away radar? Is that like a cut-down home version to keep track of your drones?

Free Makeup Brush – Claim Yours Now

Oh. It’s like a radar for finding free offers on completely ordinary stuff. Talk about burying the lede.

_______________
¹ Namely, that the chronic disorganization and crappy (not to mention slow-walked) payment model at BOOM! ran into somebody that said no. I surmise that BOOM! is trying to treat the pair as they treat their work-for-hire newbies and don’t know institutionally how to interact with somebody that has the experience and knowledge to enforce their contractual rights.

To be 100% fair, for every BOOM! creator I’ve spoken to that has experience terrible treatment (on the business side, not the editorial side), I’ve spoken to another that has zero complaints and has been perfectly happy. How much of this is luck, or how much it’s BOOM! picking strategically who gets their limited attention³.

² I plied both Dreistadt and Gibson with excellent drinks in San Diego (adjacent to a wall decorated in 3D-printed human skulls, apparently left over from a Rob Zombie video shoot.), and could not get them to tell me anything on the record. As I recall, the conversation went something like this:

All: These are great drinks!
Me: Care to confirm my theories about how you’re getting screwed on Capture Creatures?
B&F: Nope!
Me: Fair enough. Let’s have more great drinks!

That’s some hard-hitting investigative pseudojournalism there, let me tell you.

³ Apparently, there was a time where BOOM! editor Shannon Watters was responsible for literally dozens of titles at the same time. I’ve gone back to pull their publication history and check mastheads, but I have been told by numerous sources that the number was upwards of fifty. That’s five-zero. If true, no matter how short a period, BOOM! was putting the crunch culture of Silicon Valley to shame as fucking amateurs in the field of running their people into the ground.

For Some Sense, Let’s Head Across The Ocean

Shit is bananas these days, so let’s just step back and have some wisdom from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin on the most hated part of modern computing. It relates to bandes dessinées web, promise.

Adobe just announced their intent to put Flash in end-of-life mode by the end of 2020: they will no longer update the plug-in or distribute it. Since no one will want to run vulnerable software, this will be nothing less than a death sentence for the venerable multimedia engine.

I came to not particularly like Flash: a few years ago, I was more than skeptical of Adobe’s insistence that Flash was appropriate everywhere, and was glad when they stopped their effort to try and push it on mobile devices. And its track record when it comes to security is abysmal. That being said, from a digital history perspective this means we will somehow need to find the means to preserve an enormous amount of digital culture that was originally published as Flash files; Homestar Runner, of course, but the list only begins there.

But one piece just made the jump (were they tipped off?): Yves Bigerel’s (better known as Balak) visionary creation, About Digital Comics¹, was just remastered using modern web technologies². Among the benefits: it is multi-language, with the language being automatically selected according to your browser’s language setting. Go rediscover this masterpiece, and along with it you can discover the Turbomedia creations that many people have been busy creating on that site in the meantime.

Speaking of Balak, I discovered on this occasion that the Internet video series he co-wrote, Les Kassos, has been fully dubbed in English and is now available on Vice as The Wakos. Enjoy; I suggest you begin with The Pokemal Trainers [NSFW], then Totogro [NSFW] will do nicely.

_______________
¹ Originally published as Flash in English and French.

² Many thanks to BatRaf, Turbo Interactive webmaster, for fixing a few outstanding issues — during the evening, no less — within a few hours of me reporting them.

Good stuff as always, but I have a quibble with one bit — I am less convinced that FSFCPL that no one will want to run vulnerable software, given that there’s plenty of vulnerable, unpatched, unsupported, deprecated, end-of-lifed, and otherwise completely insecure crap out there right now. I suspect that we’ll see Flash persisting for years and never quite going entirely away. But the sooner, the better.


Spam of the day:

These women are willing to do anything at all that you can ever imagine!

Awesome. I’d like the winning Powerball jackpot numbers and a removal of incompetent vandals from the federal government.

Lyon BD Is Just Three Days, Or He’d Keep Writing

We at Fleen continue to bring you all the news from the world of French [web]comics, courtesy of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin. Take it away, FSFCPL!

Lyon BD, like most French comics festivals, is run as a non-profit. That does not mean admittance was free (5€ a day, or 8€ for both days), but that means among others aspects it relies a lot on volunteer labor. [Editor’s note: That admission rate would be in the range of US$5.50 to US$9.00 for a city-wide festival]

But just because it is a non-profit does not mean you are dealing with unprofessional people. Case in point: when I came Friday morning to get my badge as an accredited member of the press (which also allowed me free entry), they couldn’t find my name among the envelopes containing the individual badges. That was going to be a problem: without a badge, I would not have been able to enter no matter how much I paid, since the first day was reserved to professionals (and accredited hack webcomic pseudojournalists).

But Mélodie Labbé, who was the Lyon BD point of contact leading up to the festival proper (for RSVPing to events, notably) was present and doing badge delivery herself too, my name did ring a bell to her, and so she took a blank badge and wrote in my name so that I could enter and access everything I could as accredited press; I did not even have to show the email accepting me as accredited press (I was able to come back on Saturday, and this time my “real” badge was found. I won’t lie: getting to wear [this](attached image) rocked).

More generally, Lyon BD did treat attendants and exhibitors well: there was free water from water dispensers (as previously mentioned), tables for lunch inside the city hall, allowing food brought in, and nearby seating allowing for a pause to read your haul, signage in the streets to find your way when going to offsite events (exhibitions, lectures, etc.), and lastly but most useful for me this Sunday¹, the last day: a free cloakroom, since my train was departing straight after the festival (admittedly, that last service was not open to the public: only exhibitors, journalists, etc.).

Lyon BD is also remarkable for its initiatives besides running the show proper. For instance, I previously mentioned they originally commissionned the Boulet/Inglenook drawn concert collaboration, but even though this was the 12th edition I first heard of Lyon BD only three years ago from their Hero-ïne-s exhibition, where they asked comic creators (including Boulet, through which I heard of it) to reimagine comics with female leads, because even in this day and age in French comics, female leads are still rare.

The works themselves have been posted on the web (some of which I’d very much pay to see made!), and you can buy it as a book which additionally contains interviews with the featured creators, small essays on sexism in and around comics, etc. The exhibition itself is touring (it was not at Lyon BD this year, though), but I do not know where it will be shown next.

Since there were fewer events of interest to me on Sunday (there were a few, but colliding with Scott McCloud’s lecture, and there was no way I was going to miss that), I decided this was the opportunity to try and meet some of the creators showcased in this project, especially as a number of them are local to the area.

Highlights of the day:

  • Meeting with Paka at the Lapin booth, who mentioned to me that his collaboration with Cyprien, Roger et ses humain (previously mentioned here) was now available in English on digital platforms, among them Comixology; this can be a viable way to discover this work, at least as an artist.
  • Catching Hero-ïne-s contributors Efix, Marie Avril, Emy), Anjale (note that I was still dressed as Clark Kent), and Yan Le Pon (links to their own pieces) and chatting with them about their contributions and the general state of comic book heroines. Most of them were even generous enough to sketch in my copy of the book.
  • Watching Scott McCloud’s lecture presenting his latest book project: the pitch, the need for it, case studies of examples and counter-examples, etc. Even with half the time taken by the translator, it still had so much information density that no summary could not possibly do the lecture justice. McCloud is going around the con circuit, so I implore you to go and catch a performance of his lecture, you won’t regret it.

    He went straight to a signing after the lecture (in fact, he was signing for most of the duration of the festival, and his line was always packed), so I was not able to have any aside time with him, but I did get a few answers: during the lecture, he had a few words about Powerpoint (probably the visual communication medium office dwellers create the most), and it will be covered in the book (one of my interrogations from the announcement).

    At the end of the lecture, during the Q&A session, he confirmed in response to my question that, while there would be no dedicated chapter (the book not being organized along media type, but along other concepts), the teachings would not just be applicable to static media, and some of the examples would be from interactive media.

    Lastly, I went in line for the signing, and once I reached him I asked one last question: what, if anything, he did find different in French cons as opposed to U.S. cons. His answer was that in his experience signings were mostly the same, but in panels in France he appreciated not having to spend nearly as much time justifying how comics could serve important endeavors: French people have little trouble believing that.

  • At the same signing, meeting Bou … oh, wait, is that the line for him?! One, two, three … ten … OK, there is no way I can reach him before the festival closes its doors. Too bad, maybe next time.

It was then time to leave, but if they keep up like this, I will most certainly be back next year. I would like to close by thanking Lyon BD festival for evaluating and accepting my press badge application, without which I would not have been able to cover the festival as much as I did; and of course, for putting out a great festival.

And that will wrap up Fleen’s coverage of LyonBD 2017. With any luck, we’ll have more reports from a variety of festivals from FSFCPL in the coming years.


Spam of the day:

Xarelto Lawsuit Information

Xarelto is an anticoagulant. If there’s one things EMTs hate, it’s anticoagulants, because they make our lives more interesting on calls. Nevertheless, I think it’s a little disingenuous to sue the maker of an anticoagulant on the basis that it caused you to have difficulty stopping bleeding because that’s what the damn thing is meant to do.

_______________
¹ Fun fact: Sunday was also polling day for the French general elections, and mainland France does not have mail-in voting or early ballots, and I hope it never has online voting: so I had to appoint a proxy to vote on my behalf, there is no other way to vote while away on polling day.

Lyon BD, Deuxième Jour

We continue the reporting of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin from the grounds of Lyon BD. If you missed Day One, it may be found here.

The main attraction of a French comics festival is getting to meet the comics creators themselves, or more specifically, getting them to sketch and sign in one of their books you brought; that last part is important: the creator typically won’t have his books on hand, and by himself is not set up to take your money. This means sketches are free as a rule. Though if you don’t own any of their books, not to worry: they are available for sale at the festival so you can have your copy when you get in line for the signing.

So for instance for Lyon BD:

  • A temporary location inside the city hall was set up as a bookshop (an offshoot of a local bookshop, in fact).
  • A big reception room and several smaller ones inside the city hall were set up as table space for invited creators, independently of any publisher.
  • Inside a common tent on the Place des Terreaux, Glénat (one of the biggest French comics publishers) had set up a giant booth where one end was set up as a bookshop, and the other end as table space for their creators; same for Decitre (the association of Dupuis, Dargaud, and Le Lombard).
  • In the same tent, smaller publishers (Lapin, Warum/Vraoum, Rouquemoute, etc.) had booths where the creators were set up directly behind piles of books (though the publisher himself handled the transactions).
  • And a few isolated signing events were set up in bookshops around the city.

And so that you could best visit creators at the right times, this giant banner¹ was put at critical junctions in the festival … Oh wait, that is only creators A to K, a second banner was needed for creators L to Z. Columns are approximate time: Saturday morning, Saturday early afternoon, Saturday late afternoon, etc. up to Sunday late afternoon.

Other booths present included booksellers specialized in original and historical editions of comics, art schools, publishers of youth books (not just comics), etc. It was not a big festival: for instance, a few major publishers (Delcourt, Soleil) did not have a booth. But as you know, it is not the size that counts: what counts are the people I wanted to meet and that I knew would be there.

So, Saturday: the first day (out of two) of the main festivities.

This setup was less than ideal by some aspects. For instance, France remains under a high terror alert level which means bags had to undergo visual inspection whenever entering the festival, and that included whenever you wanted to go from the city hall to the tent on the Place des Terreaux (and the converse) as they were close, but not directly connected.

Furthermore, weather became rather nice and actually a bit hot (28°C, or about 81°F) which was felt more under the tent due to the lack of air circulation (a few booths were able to put up ventilators); especially by your correspondent, who chose to go that day dressed as Clark Kent: in a full suit (plus hat, and small S on the chest, under the shirt. My apologies: I forgot to take photos). But those were only inconveniences, and volunteers were on hand to help, for instance to bring drinks to people stuck in their booths; the organizers had also put water dispensers under the tent for attendees to get water, for free.

Interesting live programming was also scheduled for Saturday, in particular a jazz and drawn comics concert involving Florence Cestac (only woman so far to have received a Grand Prix at Angoulême), which unfortunately I had to pass on due to a collision with another event I wanted to attend at 3:00 PM.

By the way, did I mention the Lyon city hall was a very nice place?

Highlights of the day:

  • In the main reception room used for signings, getting to say hello to the German creators showcased in the exhibition (mentioned in my last post): Reinhard Kleist, Thomas Von Kummant and Isabel Kreitz (Birgit Weyhe was signing elsewhere), but I spent most time chatting with Flix about his book, The Pretty Girls; this is actually a series of relationship and drama strips self-contained in one page, and contrary to most body representations in comics (comics being a very coded medium), even from France, he features great body diversity: his girls are fat, slim, tall, small, even old or young… they are all meant to be pretty.
  • Chatting with the creators at the Lapin booth, in particular Tim, who reminded me I could point you to his Promenade (going for a walk), since there is no need to translate it. And he’s right. It it comics? You decide. And Cy², since I was interested in her Real Sex From Real Life [NSFW], but more on that later.
  • A panel on comics being featured in Le Monde’s morning digest app. Of note was the fact it is still hard for comics to make inroads in a newspaper that was one of the last holdouts of the “if it’s boring, it must be serious” school of thought: often interesting initiatives around comics are declined, even when money is not an issue. On the other hand, when the principle of having comics in the app was accepted, then getting budget to pay lump sums to the creators was not an issue.
  • A panel with Cy, Fabien Vehlmann, and Julie Maroh about their respective comics projects around sex Le vrai sexe de la vraie vie, l’Herbier sauvage, and Corps Sonores). Their approaches vary in the details (Vehlmann collected anecdotes through in-person sessions, while Cy used an online form), but the basic approach is the same: in order to show sex not as an ideal, but as it is practiced, they use comics to show such stories of real sex, and build them around raw material collected from other people so as to provide actually representative and diverse experiences. As such, even if not directly educational they all have a documentary aim.

See you next time for Sunday …

Fleen, as always, thanks Lebaupin for his attention and insight.


Spam of the day:

Your Car Service Reminder

I don’t own a Vauxhall, don’t live in Central England, and don’t need a service plan, thanks. While we’re on the subject, because it’s only British spammers that ever bring it up, I’m fine on double glazing, too.

______________
¹ Note the use of autrice, a feminine form of the word auteur which has recently resurfaced (because when auteur is used for both masculine and feminine forms, it tends to erase female creators), and is still not widely accepted.

² Who, by the way, is tag teaming with Boulet to cover the animation festival in nearby Annecy this week.