The webcomics blog about webcomics

The Programming Is Not As Heavy As Usual

The world is slowly returning to in-person experiences; granted, the word world is doing some heavy lifting there, as COVID-19 decides to create new waves in various parts of the world. Some have not yet had the chance to vaccinate, and others steadfastly refuse to do so, which is an idiocy I will never understand. As long as I live, that will never make any godsdamned sense.

But in places where it’s safe¹, comics fans are again gathering. Or, in the case of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, bandes dessinées fans. Here, then, is his report from this year’s Lyon BD festival.


I can’t remember who said it at the table outside the café where we had gathered at the invitation of Shetty Saturday afternoon, but I think it best captures the feeling on how Lyon BD took place in 2021.

I had this feeling from the outset of the professional day Friday (which I did attend this year): besides the area where artists could present publishers their projects and portfolio for feedback (or more), it was pretty much a one-track conference, far from where the main event would take place (so no access to exhibitions, in particular). No need to even switch rooms between two events! So following the program that day was a no-brainer; in fact, the only challenge of the day was finding a place in the vicinity that would sell me food to go without forcing me to go inside where diners were exchanging their gross lung air².

There was some more to do for the main event, Saturday and Sunday, but even then there was no place for improvisation. Indeed, when I bought my ticket, I had to choose right away (this was printed as part of it) in which 5-hour-long time slot I would be allowed into the festival main space: I wouldn’t be allowed in at ay other time (I chose Sunday afternoon). Moreover, I also had to choose right away which events I would be able to attend, and the attendance cap prevented me from registering to some I was interested in.

So, yeah, the organizers took their job seriously.

As for the official parts, there were some, but mostly exhibitions: no LGBTI+ comics event, for instance. However, all signings occurred as official events, in bookshops, outside the festival main space.

So while I was still busy for most of Saturday and Sunday morning visiting exhibitions and the like, for once I had time to stop a bit and enjoy the renovated Place des Terreaux (which I had never seen in it usual state: neither in renovations nor covered with tents) around beers with Shetty and crew.

In the end, unfortunately, not much that intersected with online and indie comics. Except for one theme: comics in Africa, which were the subject of a few roundtables. Here is what I learned, in no particular order:

  • For much of the local public, comics are these outreach/teaching aid pamphlets from NGOs that these distribute for free, so it is hard to convince potential customers that comics are worth paying for.
  • While the vision of subsaharan Africa as shithole countries is ignorant and based on debunked stereotypes, there are some challenges to producing there: notably, some creators are taking advantage of the phenomenal advances in smartphones to directly create on these devices, which allows them to create even during the power outages, whether planned or unplanned, that are common occurrences in some parts of the continent.
  • In French-speaking Africa, in particular, the public gets inundated with media coming from France such that it is sometimes hard to develop local channels. Moreover, that means local creators have to challenge the ideals these French-based media convey, aesthetic ideals in particular.
  • Representation, as everywhere else, matters; one creator in particular mentioned that if she had to be the one creating stories about people like her, then by golly, she was going to do it herself.
  • And it’s not just about what people physically look like. The same creator mentioned being influenced by one of these rare creators of comics she had access to who can and do draw credible afrodescendant characters, anatomically speaking: neither color-swapped white people nor fat-lipped caricatures. But she was surprised to learn of this creator being white, and that led her to look for the unique perspective she could bring as a black woman creator.
  • Comics publishers based in France and Belgium have started showing interest in comics from Africa, but have only published them for the local market and not brought them to Europe so far. Even then, there is still pent-up offer, and some creators there are turning to crowdfunding in order to self-publish. In fact, there was a general agreement in the need to build up skills in the whole of the book chain so as to reduce dependence on established actors.
  • Black Panther has not such much ushered a new wave of afrofuturism than brought it to the mainstream, with many viewers looking for more after that, which means they can discover creators who were doing that all along, such as Reine Dibussi.
  • Since bound books are considered expensive, fan ‘zines have found some success, and some conventions have sprung up, even if they look more like North American comic cons than European comics festivals given how audiovisual media has been more able to penetrate local households (cosplay was mentioned as being a big thing there).

In other news: after failing at the last round in previous years, Chris Ware won the Grand Prix at Angoulême — the only event left of the planned, then scrapped, summer edition of the comics festival.

And Iron Circus has announced having obtained the English publishing rights for Cy’s Radium Girls (previous coverage), with a release planned for 2022. The creator only commented: Who is proud? ME.), while the publisher let us know this came as a result of their presence in the 2020 edition of the Angoulême comics festival.

So, if any comics publishers are reading me, could I suggest that they … get there? January 27th to 30th, 2022). Chris Ware will be president. You can land at Charles de Gaulle, then take a high-speed train directly to Angoulême. Do it.


As ever, we at Fleen thank FSFCPL for his endeavours on behalf of our readers. He’s a good dude.

Spam of the day:

Mining farm for Chia coin

Unless the farming results in a coin base upon which grows actual Chiapet style chia, not interested.

¹ And, tragically, many places where it is not — looking at you, Missouri. When you’re done with your little muh freedom temper tantrum and your healthcare professionals are so traumatized at how you chose to abuse them that they leave and never return, I am going to be hard pressed to have sympathy. On behalf of my colleagues, fuck you.

² I believe that FSFCPL is here using gross in the English sense of disgusting rather than the French sense of large, although honestly it works either way. — Ed.

The French Dispatch That Does Not Feature Extreme Visual Symmetry And Twee Color Palettes

I mean, I love Wes Anderson’s movies as much as anybody, but here at Fleen the words French and dispatch mean that Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has news for us from The Continent. Take it away, FSFCPL!


On the 13th of January 2018, Boulet made it publicly known he was interested in working in animation in Los Angeles. Heh, I should point him to Natalie Nourigat, who famously wrote the comic book on the matter¹ … I thought. Wait a minute, didn’t she also famously tell us not to let fear stop us from traveling based on her time in Europe and France in particular? Could it be that … nah, that’s too far fetched; OK, I will make a check on her web presence solely to alleviate any doubt: there I should be able to quickly find elements to disprove that theory …

And that is how I found out about Natalie and Boulet: as if the fact she was treating it as an open secret on her own social media presence wasn’t enough, I quickly found incriminating photo evidence anyway.

Boulet had been telling us for some time already of his long-distance relationship with his girlfriend, of which we only knew that she works at Disney, and how he was able to live with her in Los Angeles for sessions of about three months, which I assume were bound by the limits of a tourism visa. That made sense: vacation time is notoriously limited in the US, even at Disney, while on the other hand Boulet as a comic book creator can work from pretty much anywhere.

There had also been hints of him being restless and dissatisfied with what he could do in comics, both artistically and career-wise: for instance, he has never shied away from expressing his solidarity with the self-publishing movement, but couldn’t see himself following the same path.

In the years since, he has worked a day job in a studio). Created animations on his own. Built up his portfolio. Kept going to Los Angeles whenever he could. And worked on his visa application.

And then came the March that never ended.

After a few months, once it became clear that international travel restrictions wouldn’t be lifted unless and until vaccination were widespread, the campaign Love Is Not Tourism was able to make inroads and convince some countries to allow travel for people who could show evidence of being in a transnational relationship.

Evidently, the US with their then-current administration was not moved. But that kind of cruelty was not enough for them, as they went as far as to summarily crush the hopes of the few whose visa applications had been able to proceed, without warning (look for hell).

In the end, she had to take a leave from work and come to France (who was more receptive to their plea) so they would be able to rejoin, even though he was much more mobile work-wise. They had to take that opportunity to get married in these conditions (which meant limited attendance, among other constraints) so that they wouldn’t depend on the goodwill of Bloody Mary to see one another in the future.

Then a new administration took power despite violent attempts to the contrary, and as March looped back into March he was finally able to come back the the US, and I believe their marriage ought to be enough to allow him to stay there, resume looking for work, and generally live the dream.

Congratulation, Gilles and Natalie. Your travails may not be over, but you definitely won a big battle and have earned some rest and time together, and I wish you all the possible happiness for years and years to come.

Last minute: Angoulême just cancelled for 2021. Given current guidance from French authorities, and how the EU has been having trouble effectively securing vaccine production, this isn’t surprising; for instance, earlier this week Japan Expo Paris just announced their own cancellation. It’s unclear what will happen to the Grand Prix for 2021, which was supposed to be announced at that time.


Thanks to FSFCPL for his sleuthing-out of the story, and congrats to the happy couple finally having love win out over the great orange idiot.

Spam of the day:

[large block of Korean text] (BTC Wallet): 1EwKoVaiFm4rXtHynT8X5qE1RVhJVBxwC4 [large block of Korean text].

That’s the first time I’ve gotten the Saw you whacking off through the webcam you don’t have, pay me US$1500 in Bitcoin blackmail scam in a different character set. Oh but look! A Bitcoin wallet ID in Latin characters! It would be a shame if it got flooded with bogus traffic. Yep, just a real shame.

¹The link is slightly anachronistic: back then it existed only as a digital download on Gumroad.

And A Few Concluding Remarks On The Pleine Page Festival

It’s been pretty much all Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, all the time this week. Below find his general thoughts on a standout comics festival in the plague year, and we’ll see him the next time something catches his eye and he puts up the FSFCPL Signal.


?Comic book festivals always leave me physically exhausted at the end, but not the Pleine Page Festival (well, except for my fingers). After France went back in lockdown October 30th, Lise and her accomplices set up this virtual festival on her Twitch channel to compensate for the festivals that couldn’t take place in 2020, and while it can’t replace a proper festival, take a look at this lineup! When it comes to programming, the quality is on par with the best festivals, with additionally a large focus on matters of interest to this blog. As a result, you can now enjoy on Fleen the transcripts of:

But that doesn’t mean the other events were uninteresting! For instance, in a traditional festival I always check what’s next for me about 5-10 minutes before the end of an event so I can get to the next one in time, if necessary. Well, even if this time I was in front of my tablet I ended up doing the same, even though that was going to be the next thing on the channel anyway, because I was eager to see what was next.

So I also followed with interest her interviews with Cyril Pedrosa and Mathieu Bablet. Thankfully for my fingers, the programming alternated these with more contemplative events where artists would draw, either competitively, or cooperatively, or as a reward for lottery winners, or just as a drawing lesson.

All the while, the event went smoothly, or as smoothly as can be expected for a pandemic-era virtual event: Lise was never any less professional than a mainstream newscaster in the face of trouble, even though I had pegged her more as a wordsmith; I guess I failed to account for her video activities on YouTube and Twitch. For instance, when it turned out Cyril Pedrosa would be unable to be present at the programmed time, she arranged to record the interview the previous day, and except for the disclaimer at the beginning that we would be unable to ask questions because of that, that was integrated as seamlessly as possible in the event.

The success of this event shows Lise has got the best rolodex of any of us in this beat, and the team to organize anything. So congratulations to her, Fernandez (co-host and provider of drawings for the lottery), Fanny (who handled backstage activities such as the video feeds), and a Matthias who could be seen passing books to Lise while she was on stage. I hope this was only the first of many such events to come.


For those keeping track at home, that’s about 8000 words from FSFCPL, which is a frankly unreasonable number of words to crank out at this most soul-crushingly hectic magical time of year. As always, our thanks to him, and a sincere hope for a restful remainder of the year. Personally, I’m thinking that he earned the Odinsleep.

Spam of the day:


Is that supposed to be UPS as in United Parcel Service, or as in uninterruptible power supply. Because I’m probably about a year from having to replace the battery in the UPS, and I order most of my stuff specifically asking for Postal Service delivery because the postal service is awesome.

Self Publishing: Same Issues In Any Language

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin continues his recaps of the Pleine Page Festival, this time with a panel discussion from the festival co-host. I’ll note that this is the third 2200+ word piece you’ve gotten this week, because that’s how we do things at Fleen: news from around the world from people on the ground, not the same old cape comic press releases.


The panel discussion Why Choose Self-Publishing?, moderated by festival co-host Aurélien Fernandez¹, began with an introduction of the panelists and their own crowdfunded projects: Yatuu switched to crowdfunding after working with various publishers, with 5000 books preordered for her latest campaign, up from 2800. Lisa Mandel produced various works with various publishers before running Une Année Exemplaire first on Instagram, then funding a print run for it with a crowdfunding campaign.

Mandel: She launched it on a hunch; at the time her blog on the website of Le Monde has stopped, as well as her own blog, and she had few Instagram followers. So in the end she got sufficient funding, but no further, from the crowdfunding campaign proper (about 550 books, which amounts to about 15,000€) [Author’s note: her campaign completely flew under my radar at the time, though my radar could always stand improvement anyway]. She later did a post-campaign preorder offer about 4-5 months ago, which doubled the preordered amount, and later on her selection for Angoulême netted her additional sales. Her participation in the Exemplaire project was a long time coming, they even intend not to contract with a distributor so as to get experience themselves with all the parts of the book value-adding process.

Fernandez: They both have experience with the traditional publishing system, why self-publish then?

Yatuu: First issue: she did have interested publishers, but they only agreed to a single book … which wasn’t compatible with the worldbuilding she intended to develop; none of them wanted to take a risk on a book series. And even if she could sign with a cooperative publisher, he could later change his mind and not fund the following book, which wasn’t acceptable to her.

Second issue: the financials, as she intended to live off making comics, while before she had to alternate that with freelance illustration work, due to weak advances. As for royalties, the percentages are so slim she doesn’t start earning out until many books have been sold, so in the end it was too difficult for her to make a living on comics.

Mandel: More or less the same reasons for her, first as an experiment as she was comfortable with her situation and had a 17-year career behind her. She started with Nini Patalo in 2000, and by 2003 the golden era was coming to an end: she was earning 15000€ advances per book, or 300€ per page before taxes, but half of that was funded by the book being first published in a comics magazine found in newsstands, which no longer exists.

It went downhill from there, as when she proposed doing a 6th book, her publisher attempted Wouldn’t you want to earn less than 17 years ago?: between the increased cost of living and her carrier progression, that was unacceptable, and she had to negotiate to merely track inflation.

She has seen everything: in her late teens manga was still unknown except for heavyweights like Dragon Ball, now the market is saturated even if it is not necessarily with bad works. Now, she’s currently on contracts allowing her to make a decent living, but solely off advances for books which never earn out. And she realized that she had no coverage for holidays, unemployment, etc. Which resulted in her never taking a break to assess her situation.

Fernandez: Don’t the creators rely less and less on royalties these days anyway?

Mandel: She still did so at the time of the first Nini Patalo book, and while she is not in the same situation as Yatuu, she’s been chomping at the bit² for the last 20 years on the contracts she is being proposed being warped (with the notable exception of L’Association, which have always been transparent with her).

She mentions publishers acting in bad faith: tying the audiovisual rights, attempting to introduce abusive clauses and when called on it, pretending we’re not going to exercise it, and for instance on a series the contract did commit the creator to three books, but did not similarly commit them to publish these same three books. She is sick and tired of having to double-check her contracts because of dishonest publishers who seem to think they’re a creator, they did not study business administration.

Yatuu: She’s a dummy when it comes to negotiation, she signed her first contract blind, trusting the publisher, then for her second she sough the help of the SNAC [Author’s note: a trade union of comics creators], which she was right to so: she was proposed a contract meant for a prose book.

Mandel: Even if there is a need for creators to take some responsibility, the publishers end up abusing their legitimate trust, they play on the partnership and the emotional relationship even though creators are in practice in the weaker position.

Fernandez: He did read in the Racine report that many creators coming to comics from other fields don’t know how to defend the creation side, and end up with too little money to share.

Mandel: Even as a lineup lead, she is barred from discussing payment with creators. She’s unhappy with any situation where two fellow creators don’t earn the same from the same publisher, just because one of them can negotiate; she had to learn that on her own, not in art school.

Fernandez: The Twitch commenters agree such a thing is missing from art school curriculum.

Mandel: What kind of art school can pretend to prepare their students to this field without touching on such matters? This is part of the job, it’s not all just artistry. She denounces the favors being made to creators who don’t sell all that much but are prestigious to feature in the publisher’s catalog, and as a result get better advances and get better promo, to the detriment of others.

Fernandez: On the matter of promotion, isn’t the creator’s presence on social networks watched by publishers?

Mandel: You know the answer. (Fernandez: Yes, but the audience does not.) Of course, creators enjoying success on social networks are hired by publishers, but get offered stinky advances and poor conditions, on the pretense that they’re starting out and their audience does not necessarily translate to sales. Except that may not be a fair assessment of the market, so publishers pick and choose from that pool and freely use the marketing done by the creator while they should be paying these creators in accordance with the promotion these creators do by themselves.

Fernandez: Erika And The Princes In Distress started on Yatuu’s blog.

Yatuu: Her first published book started on her blog already, and led her to receive offers from publishers (it was on overworked trainees in the advertising industry). The promotional work was done already as a result, and yet since she was naive about the whole thing she signed away her rights for a pittance (8000€).

Mandel: Right away she started with multiple publishers by happenstance, so she avoided the whole being emotionally blackmailed by a publisher pretending to be family, and therefore finds it absurd to fear presenting a project to other publishers just because you already have a relationship with one. There can be a contract clause for that [Author’s note: which would be known as right of first refusal in English-speaking countries].

Fernandez: Which can be justified for further books in a series, but not in general. In fact this doesn’t bother anybody: editors know one another, even in different houses. Let us move on: what kind of workload does the entail, what kind of support do platforms provide?

Yatuu: She’s got a contact assigned to her who gives her feedback on the campaign, introduces her to suppliers, so she’s not being left to fend for herself even if creators do most of the job. The workload is huge, in non-obvious ways. For the second book, she’s planning for a May release, and she has a full schedule until then: book layout, suppliers, print run sizing, color matching: all the work performed by a publisher lands on her lap. She gets some followup from Ulule.

Fernandez: Does this mean 3000 books end up in your living room?

Yatuu: Ah, storage. Her boyfriend’s parents have a big garage which they can use to store the multiple pallets of books which are going to arrive, which amount to more than just the preordered books. She gets a lot of help from Brice, the boyfriend –he handles book layout, printer interactions, suppliers, logistical issues such as amounts ordered, etc. The workload is so huge she wouldn’t have done so without him; there would be too many roles to play.

Mandel: When she revealed her intents she was warned many times: Fly, you fool!

Fernandez: So it’s not just for upstarts intent on staining the beaten pulp of dead trees, but also in case you want an out on the system.

Mandel: It’s impossible to do everything yourself unless you want to sleep 2 hours per night, so she sought help: on paper type, on printer quotes; then she was able to have the books delivered at the studio, so she hired people to package them: she already had 1000 preorders to fulfill, on top of day-to-day sales, not to mention customer service — people who moved without telling, but also those who did but weren’t taken into account because the address label was printed too early, packages lost en route.

So she hired her sister as her own Brice-alike, her sister handles distribution in particular as that is an important source of interruptions: logistical issues unrelated to her artistic activities would otherwise interrupt her every hour or so, and prevent her from focusing on her drawing.

Yatuu: You have to accept having less time available to draw.

Mandel: It can be good to take a break from drawing, but it is time-consuming, so don’t expect being able to start drawing your next book right after completing the previous one.

Fernandez: Which leads us to the Exemplaire project.

Mandel: Indeed, she has confirmed from experience that it was possible and even profitable, but not possible by yourself, so might as well set up a mutualized structure. So rather than have all the risk taken up by the publisher, and badly paid creators, have a structure that does not take on debt, and relies on crowdfunding instead.

Fernandez: What is the legal status of the entity, how different is it actually from a publisher?

Mandel: It will be a S.A.S. [Author’s note: I am not remotely competent enough to provide a U.S. equivalent, if there even is, all I know is that is is a kind of incorporation³] with other associates later, for now herself with a software engineer. The principle is that the creator does his own marketing, and need to take on some other publisher responsibilities, such as storage; then, he chooses what kind of further implication he takes on: if he does only that minimum, he gets 30%.

Capitalization is reduced to a minimum: the earnings from a successful book are not retained to later fund unrelated ones. There will be no salaries: everyone is paid a portion of sales including non-creators (book layout, etc.). And obviously no printing if the crowdfunding for the book fails. They do consider distributing to bookshops.

At this point Fernandez fetched question from the chat log:

  • What is Yatuu’s work relationship with Brice?

    Yatuu: He has a job of his own, and help in his spare time. It was complicated for the first book as he had a day job in an agency, so he could only help on evenings and weekends, now he works as a freelancer, as a result it works better for his time management. He is head of the legal structure they set up, which allows him to charge promo-related expenses (such as when coming to a festival) to that structure. They found an accountant which helped them set that up, which Mandel now hired as well.

    Mandel: That greatly helped making the project viable: Get an accountant involved right away.

    Fernandez: So emancipation involves someone with a law training.

    Mandel: Books earnings go to hiring someone who enables that. Since they’re creating this structure (Fernandez: … of which he is part …) she would like to hire her sister to be a chaperone in attending to the authors who self-publish, however she made her girlfriend work for free.

  • What status must be adopted for self-publishing?

    Yatuu: I had to create a S.A.S., no choice, in order to receive the crowdfunding money without running afoul of the taxman.

    Mandel: Even if a recently passed bill should allow receiving crowdfunding money and self-publishing while keeping your artist-author status.

  • Can you embark on self-publishing right out of art school without a community?

    Yatuu: Try to make your own place on the Internet first. With an Ulule campaign right away, you risk having no pledges. First build a solid base, even if small in numbers.

    Fernandez: Traditionally self-publishing was used when making fanzines or badly bound books; now Instagram has replaced that.

    Yatuu: Indeed, and she would suggest getting into it sooner rather than later before it becomes completely like Facebook.

    Mandel: First create your space on social networks where you can serialize, then build a small community and you can consider launching a crowdfunding campaign: friends and family are insufficient when crowdfunding.

Fernandez: Any last word?

Mandel: It’s good that this exists, and if that could lead everyone in the traditional book value-adding process to rethink their role, that would be great; they’re not out to kill publishers.

Yatuu: Exactly: they’re not against them, rather using an alternative. Both work, everyone can make their own choice.

Mandel concluded by encouraging everyone to support the (then-ongoing) Exemplaire crowdfunding project.


Come back for a rare late-pandemic Friday post, as we continue with the news from PPF.

Spam of the day:

The 3 best NUTS that shrink your swollen prostate and boost testosterone

I’m sure that the nuts = testicles thing is a complete coincidence.

¹ Editor’s note: This session took place a full nine hours into the Twitchstream, and also Fernandez is the first dude we’ve seen in FSFCPL’s writeups. As here in the States, definitely the future French comics and likely the present belongs to women.

² Editor’s note: Confidential to Brad Guigar — in French, the word is chomping, not champing, so put away your righteous fury.

³ Editor’s note: apparently, it’s similar to a British limited company or a US LLC; Wikipedia says the Delaware LLC was the model, and uniquely in French law, it’s based on common law principles rather than civil law. Neat!

More From The Pleine Page Festival With FSFCPL

Heya. If you read yesterday’s blogiversary victory lap, you know that I read some emails out of order, and thus on Monday we had Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin’s recap of Pénélope Bagieu’s interview, but not the initial framing post about the online festival it was a part of. We’re continuing today with highlights from the festival, and we’ll run a summary post with the overview later rather than try to insert it in the past. I mean, if I’ve got the ability to go back and do things in the past I’m not wasting that on fixing a blog post sequence error, not when there’s Powerball jackpots to win. We at Fleen, as always, than FSFCPL for his ceaseless efforts to bring us the news of bandes dessiné3ss web.


The panel was titled Is Being Known A Prerequisite To Being Published?, and began with introductions: in particular Marie Spénale is known for Heidi In Spring and Wonder Pony, and Cy for Real Sex From Real Life, Radium Girls, etc.

[Festival host]Lise: Do they think being known is a prerequisite to being published?

Spénale: No, she wasn’t know at the time of Heidi so she veers towards no: the prerequisite to her is building a file for the project to present to a publisher, no need for subscribers, as far as she can tell.

Lise: So could being known influence the process?

Spénale: It can be brought up as a strength point, a bonus, so it can be useful, but not a prerequisite.

Cy: It can be a double-edged sword; first, she agrees that it is not a prerequisite, subscribers mean nothing when it comes to sales in the end. And when she submitted the file she built for Radium Girls, her editor when forwarding to the publisher mentioned she made YouTube videos, to which the the latter allegedly reacted Ah, another book from a female YouTuber. In the end he opened the file and the project was made, but it could have started better.

Spénale: She once was introduced in an article as blogger Marie Spénale, which may not necessarily be flattering.

Lise: As for Sita, she started making a name for herself with her YouTube channel, then Instagram account; did that help getting to make webtoons?

Sita: No, it can help, be brought up to strengthen the case, but what’s really important is knowing the field and having the right contacts. The contacts she made when she made YouTube videos in turn led to knowing the editors and publishers to contact.

Lise: All three of them have an Instagram account, does a creator have to have one?

Cy: Have to would be presumptuous; there are no hard rules, each creator can employ different means. She no longer has any portfolio proper, as Instagram has taken up that role for her, more specifically her Instagram feed (as opposed to stories, which she uses for food pictures, etc.)

Sita: She has two accounts, one for drawings and one for book reviews. It takes a lot of time to do right, as well as energy, so it must be accounted for rather than put all your energy to it to the detriment of working on your files, universes, etc. It did earn her commissions, some of them for communication campaigns.

Spénale: She sees her Instagram account more as a display window for readers than as a professional tool.

Lise: And all three also have a YouTube channel, why?

Sita: That originally was for book reviews, everyone had a blog already and she felt it was the right time to get into YouTube; then for her own drawings on top of that. She wanted to create things she appreciated herself, and be able to better reach English-speaking audiences. Oh, and receive book recommendations herself. At the time she did not intend to create books, she had only begun to get back into drawing and was a developer by trade, creation only came later.

Cy: She was getting tired of answering always the same questions, so the intent was being able to send a link for an answer; her first video was on crayons. Then she started publishing speed drawing videos, captured using an iPad in suspension. It can be a versatile medium, with many possible formats, so she published animated GIF, vlogs, explanations for the general public, ad debunking, etc. Community management is a job in itself, so it can take time. She’s having fun, if that weren’t the case she’d stop. There is something of a disdain towards YouTube creators, such as EnjoyPhoenix even though it requires a significant skillset. At some point making a comic book was in fashion with YouTubers, and not all of it was good, as would be the case for any such category in accordance with Sturgeon’s Law, but the negative branding of YouTuber comic book remained.

Sita: Which intersects with the disdain towards comics for children and licensed comics.

Spénale: The main interest for her was experimenting, in particular with longform content which she couldn’t do as well on the blog she already had. Then she worked on her Instagram with short formats, if not instant. She’d like to go back to longform, but it takes time.

Cy: It does take a lot of headspace, and must be done as a batch, instead of answers which can be done as bite-sized work items as questions come.

Spénale: Yes, it does take a lot of time; she did it on the influence of Cy. She did have to invest on it when Wonder Pony, meant for children, was to be released: the publisher hardly promoted it, so she had to take that into her own hands.

Lise: What about Twitch, then?

Cy: She was already a consumer of Twitch livestreams, such as Boulet’s, and opened hers on the prodding of Gauvain Manhattan (who since stopped doing so). She has done a lot of them in the last two years; it allowed her to survive when doing Radium Girls because she’s a hermit, and draws traditionally which means she has to work on her drawing table, so streaming allowed her to exchange with people. It allowed her to have feedback on her work. Now she sometimes feels up to it, sometimes not: it requires some concentration for instance. She does it with her mobile phone using the Twitch app. At the beginning she was uploading with her 4G connection and had to closely watch her credit, now it’s OK.

Sita: Same, she started hitting the ground running, this summer, she wanted to livestream as a fundraiser for BLM/George Floyd, she had no hardware and had to improvise. She appreciated the Twitch community and kept doing so with her phone used as a webcam which wasn’t great, but she kept doing so in the same way so as to survive during the tunnel where she is doing nothing else but draw and starts hating it. And obviously, she never streams client work.

Spénale: Not yet, she has all the necessary hardware, obviously she wouldn’t stream client work either. But wouldn’t spoilers be an issue?

Cy: On the other hand, it would be hard to spoil Radium Girls [Author’s Note: a book telling the story of women who painted clock figures with radium-laced paint so these would be visible in the dark. Without any precaution to speak of]. Anyway, the speech bubbles are done later, and in the end the plates are done over such a long stretch of time that it would be hard to follow that way, not to mention she’s only ever had 80 viewers maximum.

Spénale: So yes, one of these days, though YouTube does consume a lot of her time already.

Lise: So Twitch is more of a community building tool than a portfolio, as Instagram on the other hand appears to be?

Cy: Maybe, but also a very selfish one, it allows a more intimate bubble than Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram allow. There is indeed more of a community feeling, of direct feedback: she feels less on a pedestal to her viewers there. Though of course pests exist there too.

Sita: Artist Twitch is different from the remainder of Twitch, especially in the French-speaking sphere where this is still niche.

Lise: Does it take time away from the job?

Cy: Oh yes.

Spénale: it does take time, but is it time away from her job as a creator? It’s a leisure activity in the end, as if she’d taken up pottery.

Sita: She creates a Webtoon, on a platform which is not really a publisher, so she does a bit of her own outreach, and uses Instagram for that: she schedules posts as a community manager would. And she did a whole campaign when her work came out.

Cy: It is part of the background of her work, and couldn’t tell how much time it takes her. There is no community management to speak of when publishing a comic book in the French-Belgian tradition, and she isn’t paid for that part of the work. She does not fault her publisher for Radium Girls, but for Real Sex From Real Life she invested in her social networks, which amounts to unpaid work. So it’s disheartening when there is no online followup when a comic book comes out.

Spénale: She did start her own channel to make up for the shortcomings of her publisher, so being known was a double-edged sword: her publisher was expecting her to come up with content for promotion on her Instagram, even though that is not her job, fundamentally.

Cy: She got Why don’t you put it on your Instagram? for commission work. And the same goes for some media outlets: when she gets begged to retweet e.g. interviews of her, then who’s promoting whom, exactly?

Spénale: There is the more general issue of not all books being well-supported marketing-wise, because of the general strategy to flood the market, so publishers tend to offload that to the creator if they are known.

Lise: So creators need to do their own communication and community management?

Sita: it’s a role we add to our activities if we are already present on social networks. Some creators are content not doing any of that and more power to them.

Cy: It depends on more than social network activity, even for those already “famous” there: the reader demographics matter a lot. So for books targeting the 12-30 years old range, of course it matters, but readers of history-based comic books are not reachable through social networks. Of course for Real Sex From Real Life the social networks were squarely the target market. Don’t expect an Instagram account to be the key to fame: it’s frustrating and you end up begging for reshares. Nothing happens in a day: she has been on Instagram for 10 years, and found her public there.

Spénale: The matter of the pubic reached is interesting, we do bring a certain public, for instance when signing she sees young women who are less traditionally present on festivals.

Cy: When she signed in a very cool library led by three women, they were impressed: You got women coming to signings!” Cy: Don’t they read comics? Them: Yes, but they don’t come to signings.

Spénale: There is an interest in shifting the balance of power with publishers, it brings new points to the table, she can point to her own community and tell she doesn’t need them as much as she would if she didn’t have it.

Sita: Which is why she wanted to publish on the web first. It’s hard to get published, unless you’re willing to accept pathetic terms, having a public bring some weight when negotiating.

Lise: Does Cy agree?

Cy: She agrees, but it has to be made into a strength, to be brought up on the negotiating table: I bet as much on you as you do on me, and I see our relation as teamwork, rather than the publisher doing her a favor by publishing her. She would like for her promotional work to be properly accounted for by having the publisher pay her for it, but she has been unsuccessful so far.

Spénale: They’re already underpaid when published, with the reasoning being that the publisher brings them fame and the symbolic value of being published, but when any of their YouTube videos accrue many more views, this reasoning from the publishers loses a lot of its value.

At this point Lise fetched questions from the chat log:

  • How do they balance these additional efforts with their core creator job?

    Spénale: You have to realize that, and bring it up with the publisher. Given Cy’s reach, she’d better use it as a negotiation point to help her position.

    Cy: To change the relationship you have to stop being passive in front of contracts, so unravel them, even if that’s complicated. She has a good relationship with her editor, but her contractual relationship is with her publisher, with the contracted rights going for 75 years after her death. If all creators start negotiating to add clauses accounting for the value they add when promoting, things are bound to change.

  • Are social networks a way to diversify revenues?

    Sita: She doesn’t earn anything from social networks.

    Cy: YouTube money exists, but doesn’t even begin to compare with the time load. Twitch may be more substantial, but only if you become a Twitch partner, and then it becomes closer to mini-patronage. But you can have the occasional benefit.

    Sita: Yes, not so much the social networks proper than people coming with offers.

    Spénale: Social network revenue is insignificant in her experience.

    Cy: However when selling original works the buyers do come from her Instagram audience.


For the record, this is nearly 5000 words from FSFCPL in the space of two posts. I really have to buy him a drink sometime.

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FSFCPL With A Pénélope Bagieu Interview? Yes, Please!

Last week ended badly, post-wise (it ended worse for me and my students), but although I wasn’t able to come up for air in time to see it, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin came through with a recap of a Pénélope Bagieu interview, which is absolutely worth your time. Today, we cede to him the pride of place of the last post of Fleen’s 14th year, as tomorrow is 15 December and the blog’s birthday. More on that tomorrow, let’s get to the news from European shores.

As part of the Twitch-hosted Pleine Page Festival , Bagieu spoke with host LiseF (en Franĉais), which most everybody reading this will not understand, but which you can now get the gist of. Let’s dive in.


After the introductions, the interview began with Bagieu recapping the genesis of her adaptation of The Witches for the benefit of those who missed it from previous coverage.

  • On the matter of the reception, she was worried about the British public, where Roald Dahl is sacred, more than about the US public. In the end it went well, not the least because it was well-supported marketing-wise, even though some aspects do not necessarily make that easy to do: for instance, the smoking habit of one of the main characters could have doomed this book to be placed out of the reach of children.
  • On the matter of her additions, she sums it up as changed a lot of things while keeping the original spirit. She added what she would have wanted to see at the time: while she had no trouble with the fate of the main character, she wanted to make it less sad if not less hard by him having a friend. So she inserted a girl character to that end, even if she felt such a character was missing at any rate. More generally she tried to make the setting somewhat more contemporaneous.
  • On the matter of the 2020 movie adaptation, she finds the trailer absolutely bonkers, which she expects from Robert Zemeckis, and appreciates the atmosphere similar to the children horror of the era of her childhood. She was eager for the private projection she was to receive two days later.
  • On the matter of further adaptations, she is not interested, while she appreciated the opportunity she does not want to make it an habit of making comics adaptations. Furthermore, the other books — she mentioned Mathilda in particular — tend have more of an associated imagery, especially since illustrator Quentin Blake was able to provide feedback to Dahl priori to publication, making him sort of a co-author.
  • On the matter of her Harvey award (for California Dreamin’) and Eisner award (for Brazen) having ever been a goal for her, she answered not really, or maybe only post-facto. She was already impressed of even having been nominated for her Eisner, and had even hesitated to show up to the ceremony since she didn’t think it was possible for her to win. Now don’t get her wrong, it’s a fantastic feeling and she couldn’t touch the ground the evening after the ceremony, but once that is past her life is not changed in any way. Later on in the interview, she mentioned misplacing the smoking pipe from the Harvey Awards statue.
  • On the matter of her work always publishing in France first, she told that when she lived in the US, she tried to make a book intended for the US market on the prodding of her editor, but there are many constraints, many codes: all edges must be filed away for instance, so she was always rethinking her project and it ended up being artificial. The initial spark is fragile to begin with, so if you add self-censorship to that … she got feedback on the order of that is quite French, so she realized she wasn’t that interested: why bother in the first place? Her creation process is selfish, she pleases herself first of all, then in the end considers everyone else. While for a US story, she took the example of a project meant for early teens which was to take place in a school setting, which she visualized as that from Saved By The Bell*, but she was told it wasn’t like that, and this matters: it ended up being a pain in her ass. She reminds us these kinds of projects are long-running, so it must be somewhat enjoyable for her not to burn out.
  • On the matter of her goals in life, she answers the main one is to make a living out of comics, and that is hard enough already that wishing for more is not obvious. She is already grateful to be able to make a living out of it, so her goal for now is to keep doing so.
  • On the matter of her making drawings at an early age, she answers she did, already with bubbles, first with animated cartoon characters, then her own characters but still involved in sports, influenced by Attacker You. She then did a drawn diary, which carried over to her blog. She did recently locate one of these notebooks, with liberally borrowed plots centered around rhythmic gymnastics.
  • On the matter of her participation to Inktober, she mentions hardly participating before, but this year, lacking any active book project, and her various activities being performed on iPad, she jumped on the occasion to draw on paper. Inspired by a Cindy Sherman expo she saw, she tried to feature artists that aren’t already known. Then, she was a jury member for a podcast award which led her to discover Légitime Violence, which ends on Abbé Pierre’s address on inaction in the face of injustice; as a result, she put her works up for sale for the benefit of his foundation. She had a hard time putting a price to them, and after she did she still had doubts, but in the end they sold out so quickly (around a few minutes) that she didn’t realize what happened. So she’s up to doing it again next year.
  • On the matter of it being a goal to contribute in this way, she answers it helps coping when working in such a way that aligns with her principles, a bit like taking a stroll when having pins and needles. It’s an outlet for her overflowing revolt. She hates comics being reduced to teaching tools, but she admits it can be useful to deliver a message, more so that a 5000-line pamphlet, as she did for Bloom). It’s a bit of the same process that has led a group of artists to draw portraits of shame of the French representatives who voted to approve the global security bill. If she had some other skills she would use them in a similar fashion: it’s a selfish process which evacuates her overflowing anger. Now she has to consider her audience and not over-solicit them, but also has to consider leveraging them when needed.
  • On the matter of her impostor syndrome, if any, she answers having it, of course; it never completely goes away for artists, and merely showing her creations results in a lifetime subscription, so she had to learn to live with it, to cope. How does she do it? It is important for her to remember past experiences. She can’t always shake doubts that her family and friends are sincere when they praise her for being talented, because of course they’d say that, but they are sincere. Every time she shows her work she feels like the student who has to show her exposé to the whole class. The same goes for her fans: of course they’d be nice to me”. Conversely, one hater can be enough to shatter the mood, while on the other hand she glosses over praise.
  • On the matter of her promotional activities on TV and radio, she reports being used to it by now: it is a machine so well-oiled with preparation that it’s not her work that is being put to the test. It ends up being always the same questions such that it’s like following a script. The first times, she was terrified of making a blunder; now she ends up being familiar with every show, so she’s in bring ’em on mode, for instance when a show contributor ends up attempting to mansplain life to her. However, she remains afraid of drawing with children: they have no inhibitions. But when it comes to doing the 50th promo show for her book, on the other hand …
  • On the matter of advice for handling that, she has a few. The biggest challenge is remaining calm: she mentions rewatching herself and being surprised at how angry she appeared. As a woman she’s not supposed to be angry: even the most violent retort she must deliver as a lady, even in front of a polemicist who is on the other hand allowed to make being angry his whole shtick. She thinks of it as being in the local bar, rather than on TV. She’s not looking to convince her opponent as much as the audience. And she keeps the option of saying I won’t come to be the token feminist and decline the invitation. While she may look preternaturally calm, inside she’s boiling with rage.
  • On the matter of unexpected questions, she mentions being taken by surprise by Augustin Trapenard asking her What is brazenness? In such a case, she can’t just drive on autopilot. But when she heard Céline Sciamma in the same situation and struggling as well, it helped reassure her that she wasn’t alone. And she does appreciate complex questions that make her think about it. For instance, she was asked whether the boy at the beginning of The Witches plays with toy cars because that is how his parents died, and she never thought of it that way! That kind of questions can make her rethink herself.
  • On the matter of whether she told these stories about women as a way to cure her impostor syndrome, she answers she didn’t see it that way, and it was always a personal project, but it couldn’t help but influence her in the end. Telling such stories of women who take their destiny into their own hands was bound to galvanize her and filled something in her, she absorbed it like a sponge. Furthermore, each one did it in their own way.
  • On the matter of whether female reader reactions make her feel she is helping them, she answers the ones who write her already belong to a favorable environment, with many having teacher parents for instance; she already belongs to their environment. She has a lot of appreciation for parents who prod their children into writing her letters, send these, etc. These motivate her to keep going. She keeps them in a box, and answers them on paper.
  • On the matter of her role in the Brazen animated series, she answers having had very little. She validated them of course, but when she first met the team she knew the project was in the right hands. Her main contribution was reviewing the scripts and pointing out when they had missed something which she felt important, but otherwise she did not have any reproach. She cried for each episode of the final product, especially when considering it was to air during children’s prime time.

At this point Lise fetched question from the chat log:

  • On the matter of sharing her first works, she answers they look like run of the mill children drawings.
  • On the matter of advice for beginners, she advises showing your work often first of all, even if it’s the hardest thing in the process, and paradoxically not take too much into account any feedback, which is not necessarily constructive. Indeed, it’s important to show in order to get into the habit early.
  • On the matter of her selection process for comics project ideas, she answers she is always having sprouts of a book idea, and she waits and sees which ones stick and keep obsessing her: either she gets bored with the idea eventually, or she keeps following it.
  • On the matter of the lockdown hampering her artistically, she confirms being completely blocked on all fronts, and ended up doing nothing but eat. At the beginning she put pressure on herself to use this opportunity, and in the end nothing came out of it, including after the lockdown by inertia of the block. She has zero remorse, as this is a difficult time.
  • On the matter of finding her style between Pénélope Jolicoeur and The Witches, she answers you do not so much find your style as having one already and refining it. There is not secret about it, you have to draw a lot, and thank God she did improve on the technical front. It’s important to copy first, it’s OK, and then keep drawing and it will affirm itself.
  • On the matter of the indispensable comic book according to her, she points towards her Instagram recommendations, then all of Anne Simon published by Misma, for having a complex universe, incredible characters, and stunning artwork; they can be read in any order. And of course her reviews on MadmoiZelle.
  • On the matter of her current book projects, nothing, as discussed. But despite the unfavorable context, she does have an idea that is eating at her, so it will end up having to be done.
  • On the matter of a feel-good podcast recommendation, she answers the Distorsion podcast, made by people from Québec, so their accent is surprising at first but she got used to it after one episode.


As always, we at Fleen thank FSFCPL for his efforts to share what’s going on in the world of Eurocomics. We’d literally have had no idea about this interview without his hard work translating and summarizing.

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In Memoriam Samuel Paty

From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, cartoons and the aftermath of the power they hold.


In the French equivalents of Junior High and High School, history, geography, and civics are taught under the same hours in the timetable by the same teachers. For historical reasons, they are known as history and geography teachers.

Samuel Paty was one of them.

So while I don’t know what he was like, I know about his discipline from other teachers I know better. The ones I had in Junior High and High School, of course. Fabrice Erre, too. But the first one in my mind has and always will be my own father (who is retired by now).

For instance, when Emmanuel Macron in his eulogy (Samuel Paty was honored with a national funeral, as well as the Légion d’Honneur in the academics section, and his son was made a ward of the state) told us his home was filled with books, I don’t know if they included comics, but I otherwise couldn’t help but think of my own childhood home, filled with all kinds of books. And among them, comics were not necessarily the least relevant ones for history and geography, even if that was not always to their credit: infamously, the various editions of Tintin au Congo are often used to illustrate the attitude from Europeans of the time towards colonization.

But we did not need that eulogy, or knowledge of the curriculum, to know that Samuel Paty knew the power of a cartoon. We do know that because, while I don’t want to get too much into the ongoing inquiry¹, a few days earlier he was sued by a parent who objected to Samuel Paty using Muhammad caricatures as an illustration of free speech as part of his civics class, and as a a result police had deposed Samuel Paty, who defended his use of the caricatures; not as part of a state mandate (the teachers wouldn’t stand for it, and shouldn’t), but as part of his academic freedom. In fact, while the wording is in dispute, we know he warned of the content and excused students who were unwilling to view it.

In the hours following the murder, it was thought to be a random terror attack. We know now it was anything but random.

As Emmanuel Macron said, we will keep discovering, we will keep inquiring, and we will keep fighting for freedom and reason. #JeSuisSamuel too.


As always, our thanks to FSFCPL for his thoughts. Take care of each other.

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¹ To give you an idea, the trial for the Charlie Hebdo and related terrorist murders of January 2015 has only recently opened and is still ongoing.

Bigger Shares Of Cake Vs Making Bigger Cakes

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin is back with a fresh translation of an oldish webcomic, and what it means for Comics Today on both sides of the Atlantic.


Maliki has (finally) translated into English their announcement for going independent¹ (previous coverage), and after rereading it, it deserves additional commentary.

It is interesting to contrast it with Scott McCloud’s own assessment of the state of the US comic book industry in Reinventing Comics. When it comes to business, the dominant thinking in the US is that there is room to grow, and there is space for everyone, you just have to look and work for it. Whereas in France, the dominant vision is rather that of of the body of available work as a fixed cake, that must be shared by everyone; it’s almost Malthusian (I tend to think the dominant French vision is wrong, but that the US vision can be taken too far).

What’s interesting is that, for their respective comics industries, the common wisdom has been the reverse. At the time of Reinventing Comics at least, the US comics industry had lived so much on extracting more and more value out of the most faithful in their existing customer base, without really working on expanding the readership to new audiences to compensate for attrition, that it was in danger of losing its cultural relevance. Fortunately, in recent years there has been a shift away from that, with a focus on diversity both for characters and readers.

By contrast, comics of the French-Belgian tradition have for some time worked on expanding their audience, whether it is through covering more themes (such as journalism comics), through additional formats, in a demographic sense, etc. And that is very commendable, don’t get me wrong, not to mention there are dimensions such as variety of demographics where we are still far from Japan, where there are manga for grandparents, manga for young women, manga for office workers, etc. But …

But it appears that after outcompeting each other in that regard, publishers have gotten carried away and now only know how to compete through expansion; and at some point, there are diminishing returns.

And what happens then?

Well, while they drown booksellers in new releases, they simultaneously squeeze creators (who are not exactly in a position of power): reducing their royalties, increasing their output demands, shifting responsibilities to them, etc.

There are many elements in Maliki’s comic that I agree with, but where I’m most aligned is that it’s pointless to find a culprit who started it: you could be looking for a long time. And so the problem is rather with the process the industry is engaged in, and sometimes the best way to fix such a system … is to leave it.

We again thank Maliki for their expose, and for the courage it must have taken them to go this route.


Editor’s note: I entirely agree with FSFCPL’s interpretation that the difference between French and US attitudes at the moment is a function of saturation. In the US, comics are still niche, and there’s plenty of cultural mindspace for them to grow before they’re societally ubiquitous like in France.

The thing is, different artforms can find themselves at different places on the spectrum of Zero-Sum Game to Expansionary Space; the average TV showrunner in the age of peak TV is pretty likely to regard their audience as whoever they can peel off from another show instead of entire swathes of society who’ve been entirely ignored by the makers of TV for decades, and are now watching their first show ever.

And, as always, we at the Fleen Home Office thank FSFCPL for his insights and analysis.

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¹ Gary here. Reading through Maliki’s (now dated) announcement, I can’t help but think how much it echoes Howard Tayler’s comments on who gets what in publishing from the Webcomics 103 session back in Aught-Six. To quote:

Imagine you’ve got a book on sale at Borders [Editor’s note: Yeah, yeah.] for $10 — pretty sweet, right? Hang on a minute, because you aren’t going to get $10 a copy. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • The store sells it for $10, keeps $4, and pays $6 to the distributor
  • The distributor keeps $3, and pays $3 to the publisher
  • The publisher keeps $1, pays $1 to the printer, and $1 to the author
  • You’re the author
  • There’s a lot of hands in the pie, and you want as many of them as possible to be yours. If you can contract with printers directly, you can get the $1 that the publisher would keep. If you can bypass distributors like Diamond and shop the books around yourself, you can keep $3 more (although this is likely to severely cut into the number of retail locations you can place the book in, which will depress sales). If you have the garage space, a postal meter, and help from friends and family, you could do mail-order fulfillment yourself and keep the store’s cut ($4) along with the distributor’s.

    Or, as the point has been made by Messers Guigar, Kellett, Kurtz, and Straub ever since How To Make Webcomics came out a dozen years back: you can be in a high volume business, or you can be in a high margin business; the trick is to make the larger share of a smaller pot of money exceed what you’d get from a smaller share of a larger pot of money.

    Also, do you suppose there’s any significance that FSFCPL and Maliki talk about a share of cake, but Americans generally talk about a share of pie?

    Is It Fair If I Guess? On Account Of I Already Know The Answer

    On what is shaping up to be a challenging day¹, there’s nothing like the small ray of sunshine that is an unanticipated post from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin. Let hear what’s happening on the European side of the Atlantic.


    Guess who’s got two thumbs and forgot his keyboard at home last week?

    • Quai des Bulles announced they would not hold the festival this year; I can only commend them not only for a decision that was tough to make, but also for giving all stakeholders a full 4 months heads up.

      That leads me to my own announcement: I will not be making any preparations to go to Angoulême in January 2021. Given the characteristics of this epidemic, which has been shown to progress best in closed spaces — you can’t exactly hold a trade show around paper without protecting it against moisture, not in most of France — where people speak or shout a lot, given that summoning thousands of people from the whole French-speaking world (and beyond!) would be an epidemiological management nightmare even if the setting was favorable, and given that I can’t see any validated vaccine production, distribution, and deliverance having been scaled enough to reach herd immunity by that time, might as well declare the whole year starting from March 15th, at least, as a loss for such activities.

      Ouest-France, however, reassures us they will award their prize, to be announced when Quai des Bulles should have taken place.

    • Also via Ouest-France (in their print edition), I learned of Nicoby’s latest crowdfunding project, titled C’est la guerre (a reference to how Emmanuel Macron framed the lockdown announcement).

      The contents, his lockdown autobio journal, are interesting, but also interesting is how a publisher is managing the project. We have seen that last year with with tiny and Tall’s campaign, managed by publisher Lapin, and it seems to be gaining traction among indie publishers. We can see for instance the publisher taking advantage of the campaign for some (reasonable) cross-promotion.

      Also interesting is the framing for the campaign: it is presented as an end-run around the glut in bookshop releases that is already occurring as books that should have been released during the lockdown are rescheduled, end-run itself justified by the timeliness of the content. It seems like more and more actors are trying to free themselves from the constraints of fitting in the system of wide bookshop distribution and going direct instead.

    • Finally, Maliki’s latest campaign ended with 12,608 copies (10,532 for book 3 proper), or 16647 booksecc, breaking their own previous crowdfunding record. Never bet against Team Maliki.


    As always, Fleen thanks FSFCPL for his reportage from the lands of BD².

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    ¹ Without going into it too much, a member of my family who’s been declining for years and has been in hospice for the past week is about to die. I will most likely have more to say later.

    ² That’s bandes dessinées.


    For The Record, He Sent All This Along On Friday, I Just Didn’t Get To It Until Today

    First of all, I need to apologize if you posted a comment since Friday’s post went up … a miscreant engaged in a little Grand Spamming¹ and I found 120 pending comments as I opened up the editor and wasn’t too careful with my mass delete. Mea culpa, if you got caught up.

    Second of all, we’re starting out the week with a little cross-oceanic news, as Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who is always on top of what’s happening in the world of bandes dessinées [web].


    No real focus today:
    [Editor’s note: been there.]

    • Maliki has launched their latest crowdfunding campaign; the start, helped by Team Maliki spreading the link in advance, was too explosive (4000 copies in 24 hours) to allow the FFF to be reliable since it would have predicted more than a twofold increase from their previous campaign, but there was little doubt anyway it would be at least as successful as their campaigns always are.
    • LyonBD has launched their non-festival, with plenty of non-programming [PDF] all over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
    • At the end of an enjoyable live stream hosted by Natalie Nourigat (part 1, part 2), Boulet dropped that Donjon, the series created by Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar for which he has drawn the latest installments would be translated in English and come to the U.S. of A.

      [Editor’s note: !!!]

      We at Fleen will be sure to keep you informed.

    • Speaking of Sfar, he is being sued by the SGDL, a French society of writers, for defamation; yes, the very same society of writers responsible for dispatching aid meant for creators, with Cy wondering at the time why such a private entity would be entrusted with public money. Sfar, as the honorary president of the Professional Creators League was interviewed by Alexandra Bensaid Saturday May the 23rd (replay available here), Sfar segment starting at 1:19:30, if you can understand French), and as we at Fleen understand it the SGDL objects to Sfar denouncing these organisms, such as the SGDL, […] which occasionally get a hold of enormous amounts of money which do not end up going to the creators (all the caveats about both transcribing an audio interview and translating the meaning from French apply).

      The suit has led to quite a backslash, with the Professional Creators League publicly reacting in support of Sfar, and many creators loudly surrendering their SGDL memberships for the same reason. We at Fleen are not in a position to either assess Sfar’s claims nor analyze his legal position, but we regret the use of such tactics by the SGDL, and we think Sfar ought to be able to express himself with few if any restrictions on such a matter of public interest.

    • Finally, we at Fleen think you should be following Kéké for his amazing animations. There is no particular reason for why today we would make this suggestion.


    As always, we at Fleen (US division) thank FSFCPL for his contributions.

    Spam of the day:
    Anyone Can Learn Piano or Keyboard
    I seem to recall a claim along these lines from Planet Of The Apes: The Musical. I love you, Dr Zaius!

    ¹ Coincidentally, Grand Spamming is a crime in the universe of Howard Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary, which was the topic of Friday’s post.