The webcomics blog about webcomics

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.

From Our BD Desk

"Crayon", they said. Right. Photo by FSFCPL. Click to embiggen.

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin¹, as noted earlier in the week, spent some time prowling the recent Lyon BD, and he’s brought an extensive recap. Pret-ty sure that there’s no other webcomics blog this side of the world with a report from Lyon (or anyplace else in France), so be sure to share with your friends. Take it away, FSFCPL!

The Lyon city hall is a very nice place.

This is in fact not the usual location for Lyon BD, but with the French general elections, which happened the same weekend, preventing the use of the Palais du Commerce where it usually takes place, it had to find a backup location, and kudos for the city council of Lyon, and in particular the mayor, Gérard Collomb, for opening the city hall for use by the festival.

And so that is where your correspondent found himself in Friday morning to attend the first day of Lyon BD festival. The public was not allowed yet, reserving that day for interactions between creators, publishers, booksellers, students, and other professionals, including journalists. For instance, a number of publishers were set up with tables in a dedicated room so that students could come get feedback and inquire about opportunities; but KissKissBankBank also had a table there, for instance.

Additionally, most of the exhibitions were already set up, so it was possible to visit them while not too busy with everything else that would be happening the following days. And of course, there were panels on matters of interest to the comics community. Most of the booth space, however, would be in a tent on the neighboring plaza, which was still being set up.

Highlights of the day:

  • A panel on the interactions between museums and comics. In particular, a representative from the Centre Pompidou emphasized that it housed more than a museum of modern art, and in particular a library which has of late presented a number of exhibitions, on Claire Brétécher and on Gaston Lagaffe for instance. They also touched a word on museums acquiring original art, exposing it, and in a few cases publishing comic works (e.g. around a fine art exhibition).
  • Inside the city hall, an exhibition of comic works from German creators. Germans read more comics, in particular French, than they produce, but they do produce some, and as part of an exchange with the Frankfurt 2017 book fair Lyon BD presented this exhibition of German creators, most of which were present in the festival.

    I had already heard of Mawil through Safari Plage (which itself was pointed to me by Tim), but the others were new to me, and I would get to meet them the following day (except Mawil, who was not present). The exhibition will go to the Goethe Insitut in Lyon now the festival is over, so you can still catch it until September 14th. As part of the collaboration, the involved creators are creating comics to present French and German culture which are being posted in a dedicated site, including in English.

  • An exhibition [PDF] centered on Understanding Comics at the Lyon Museum of Printing and Graphic Communication a few blocks away. Organized around excerpted chapters from Scott McCloud7rsquo;s œuvre (it would be impossible to cover it all in a reasonable space), the exhibition illustrates concepts from the book (time and sequence, page construction, etc.) using French-Belgian comics (and a few others), notably Blacksad from Diaz Canales and Guarnido (as Boulet writes, #IMComingBackTonightWithACrowbar).

    The last room deals with digital comics and excerpts from Reinventing Comics instead. A must visit. It remains there until September the 20th, so if you are in Lyon for any reason, check it out².

  • A panel with Lisa Mandel and Matthieu Sapin, on how they work with the raw material they turn into comics. Both creators have used comics as a way to report on current events, for Mandel on the life and evacuation of the Calais migrant camp, and for Sapin on the life in the Elysée for a few months during the presidency of François Hollande.
  • A panel on graphic novels with McCloud, Yannick Lejeune, and Reinhard Kleist, specifically trying to tell what they are. Lejeune, an editor at Delcourt, provided examples more than a definition, starting with Tardi and Pratt in the 70s, followed by a renaissance in the 90s, starting with Satrapi’s Persepolis. Kleist, one of the invited German creators, told he uses “graphic novel” more as a container in particular for his own work, because he finds the word “comic” (used in German as well) as being inappropriate to represent his work, which is anything but funny.

    McCloud emphasized that, in the US, the expression “graphic novel” was a weapon meant not so much to add meaning than to escape the baggage of the word “comics”; he told he considers it all comics, while recognizing that the expression can be useful. On the matter of what they are, he said that while you always see the artifices of comics, a graphic novel for him is one that is deep and long enough that you end up losing yourself in the story and not noticing them any more.

    This is my favorite definition, because while his introduction of graphic novels in Reinventing was strictly in the context of US comics, now this definition is workable for Euro comics, and manga as well. After introducing myself, I told him as much during the opening ceremony for Lyon BD that followed a few minutes later.

  • During the reception that followed the opening, getting to chat with Phiip, local creator, host of many French webcomics and publisher of even more, about crowdfunding and its impact on comics publishing and self-publishing.

As always, Fleen thanks Lebeaupin for his contributions.

Spam of the day:

Ich habe hier mein Sofa im Test online gefunden.

A discussion of a sofa in German? I suspect that either Rich Stevens or Brett Porter is trolling me. In which case: Bravo, gentlemen.

¹ Who, I should note is now the first person besides yours truly authorized to carry a Fleen business card (complete with a rendering of our masthead mascot by Meredith Gran). You’re officially a pixel-stained wretch, FSFCPL!

² The permanent collections are also worth checking out, including this bit. The caption reads: Crayon drawing This portrait drawn in crayon by the celebrated caricaturist Gavarni is of particular interest. Comparing the proof with the stone it can be seen that a moustache has been added. This kind of alteration was made possible by a process developed by Godefroy Engelmann in the 1820s. The stone is in its final state, the proof from a previous state ‘before the moustache’.

Comme Convenu Est Mort, Vive Valerian

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin alerted me on happenings in French webcomics at the start of last week, but also asked me to hold the story as it was known that more details were coming down the pike. The tail end of the story arrived at the end of the week, so let’s turn it over to him and get caught up on Continental goings-on.

  • After 500 pages of an harrowing story inspired from her own experience, Laurel has recently concluded Comme Convenu (non-spoilery ending). Congratulations to Laurel for bringing this story to its conclusion!

    Now it is clear this is leaving a sizable hole in the daily trawl of many readers. And while we’re expecting to hear what she’ll be working on next, it turns out she’s been expecting, period.

    Everyone, please welcome Valerian, who [on 1 June] joined his big sisters Cerise and Hermione. And congratulations again to Laurel, as well as to Adrien Duermael.

  • Thomas Pesquet has been regaling us with photos from the ISS for the last six months, but [2 June] he is set to land back on Earth. But fear not! For Marion “Professeur Moustache” Montaigne is busy narrating his odyssey in comic form in a new book to be published in November. Yes, Commander Hadfield, you too have given us fantastic photos from space, but have you had a 200-page comic made about you? I don’t think so!¹

¹ Ok, ok, he’s told us his story in illustrated form. Good enough. Sorry Commander, please don’t hurt me.

Gary again, with two thoughts:

  1. Commander Hadfield has never hurt anybody; he’s a friend to all. Nevertheless, I will be most intrigued to read Pr Moustache’s GN, for a litany of fairly obvious reasons.
  2. A footnote! Oh, FSFCPL, you are making a hack webcomics pseudoeditor very happy.

Okay, third thought: welcome, Valerian. I hope that we can make the world less stupid and cruel by the time you notice what it’s like. Your mother and father will love you unconditionally, but give them the occasional full night of sleep, and they spoil you rotten.

Also, grow up safely and quickly so that you can see what looks to be a completely bonkers Luc Besson movie named after you². It’s either going to be completely kickass or incredibly stupid, but either way it’ll probably make The Fifth Element look like a model of understated restraint and I can’t wait.

Edit to add: Octopus Pie just ended. Too soon to get my thoughts wrapped around that fact. Tomorrow, promise.

Spam of the day:

Bionic Steel Hose

Is this some kind of robo-Real Doll thing? Because, ew.

² Seriously, have you seen the trailer? Bonkers.

From France, But Weirdly Without FSFCPL

To be fair, he’s waiting on a previously-announced thing to happen so he can tell us about it. Hopefully soon, because a day without Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin is a day without sunshine¹.

  • But we shall persevere, particularly when we have wisdom (cloaked by humor) from Boulet. It’s not the latest English-language post at Bouletcorp, but rather (at the time of this writing) the third most recent. It’s about who comics creators are, and why they do what they do, and neatly encapsulates the French tendency of webcomics towards autobio², as Boulet contrasts his own work with that of colleagues Zviane and Lewis Trondheim.

    From there it becomes nothing less than a meditation on the nature of creativity (and the importance of random, dumb circumstance above technical skill, education, hard work, and pretty much every other conventional wisdom indicator of success) and concludes that comics artists (quoting here) are all freaking platypuses. As with everything from Boulet, it’s a delight.

  • Book Corner time: coming next month (20 June, to be precise) from :01 Books is a delightful young-readers-plus-their-parents book from Benjamin Renner, The Big Bad Fox. Pre-order it now. The story is simple enough: a fox who can’t ever manage to snag a chicken (his friends the rabbit and the pig slip him turnips so he doesn’t starve) is convinced by a wolf to steal some eggs and raise chicks to adulthood for an easy meal. Genius!

    Until the chicks aren’t afraid of the Big, Bad Fox, because he’s mom. And the fox (who isn’t really big or bad) gets to like (love, even) his surrogate children. Hilarity ensues. The entire thing reads like a Chuck Jones cartoon (Renner, an animator, took an Academy Award as one of the three directors of Ernest & Celestine), with a style to match. The dog, charged with protecting the farmyard, looks a bit like a heavy-lidded Question Hound at his This Is Finest as he does the absolute least possible to manage the drama around him. The wolf is menacing in a slouchy way, and the fox is …

    Okay, the original French title, Le Grand Méchant Renard, is suggested by Google Translate as The Great Evil Fox. But that key word — méchant — has several meanings listed: bad meaning wicked, mischievous, nasty, evil. But also bad meaning mediocre, incompetent. Bingo. The fox is Wile E Coyote: rangy, mangy, prone to failure the more elaborate his schemes get, motivated more by hunger than malice, but ready to find a spark of empathy and take the hard way out (a pretty savage beating by the chickens, trained to ninja-like lethality) if it means sparing “his” children distress (or a noshing by the wolf).

    It’s charming, funny, and turns more than one expectation on its head³. Many thanks to Gina Gagliano at :01 for the review copy, and even more thanks to :01 for continuing to bring the best of French comics to these shores.

Spam of the day:

Beat Insomnia: The Fastest Way To FallSleep

I close my eyes and then I sleep.

¹ Which, coincidentally, it is here. Overcast, spitty rain, which is thankfully predicted to clear for the holiday weekend. Oh, yeah, Monday’s a holiday, probably no post then.

² As previously explained by FSFCPL; we just can’t quit him.

³ By the end, the fox and his kids play “Fox and Chicken”. He plays the big mean chicken, they play terrified foxes, fleeing for their lives.

Because It’s Always A Good Day For FSFCPL

When Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin gets to thinking about what distinguishes the French webcomics scene from that in other countries, I say Yes, please!. Please enjoy his latest thoughts without further adieu.

In my contributions so far for Fleen, I never felt the need to make a general introduction as to how webcomics in the French language work, because there is no need to: they are comics on the web, only in French (the web being divided more along language lines than around country borders). That is everything that is needed as a starting point to further know about them.

But when you get familiar with them, it is obvious that many cultural norms developed differently here, compared with English-language webcomics. Some of these differences are in fact inherited from French-Belgian comics traditions in general, such as the common use of pseudonyms by comics creators; but most interesting are those differences that are specific to webcomics, which I am going to present today.

  • No ads
    Boulet’s distaste for ads, and his refusal to feature any on his site, is well documented (French-only, though it is clear enough even without the text). But he is not an exception: almost none of the webcomics I have linked to so far (Maliki, Comme Convenu, A Cup of Tim, Jo, Professeur Moustache, etc.) have any ads either, and the sole case I could find in French webcomics is a single leaderboard at the top of Pénélope Bagieu’s site; otherwise, they at most feature internal ads, like the comics hosted on This is unexpected when coming from English-language webcomics, where ads are standard.

    The implication is that, by and large, creators do not use the comic’s availability on the web as a revenue source, but purely as a display window to lead the reader to support them in other ways, such as through book collections, merchandising, patronage, commissions, hiring opportunities, etc.: most French webcomic authors practice at least one of these.

  • They don’t use webcomic templates
    Most of the time, webcartoonists from the French-Belgian tradition start with a base blog engine, only their blog posts are images or mostly images rather than text; WordPress+Comicpress is almost unknown around these parts. As time goes on, they either keep that system, or move on to a fully custom solution, with designs that are generally minimalist, especially as they don’t need to feature ads, which contrasts with the generally heavy designs of webcomic sites in the English web.
  • No schedule
    Granted, having a set posting schedule is no longer seen as mandatory in English-language webcomics, with notable webcomics (Octopus Pie, in particular) renouncing a posting schedule; but a large majority of them still follow one. In French, most of them don’t: the norm is not to have any set schedule, with many well-respected webcomics having never had one. I only know of Comme Convenu and Maliki to currently adhere to any schedule.
  • More reliance on social networks
    Having no schedule means it is harder to make readers get into the habit of checking the site in a regular fashion, so except for those readers who use RSS, French readers follow webcomics by subscribing to the social media feeds of their favorite comics. This means that around here social media subscriptions represent a large portion of a webcomic’s regular audience, and pushing updates to the social networks (and ensuring they do reach readers) is of great importance to creators.

    Moreover, since French webcartoonists do not make any ad revenue from their sites, some don’t hesitate to post the full updates along with the links on social networks: Comme Convenu (Twitter) and Commit Strip (Twitter) do so, for instance. And a few have openly floated the idea of only posting on social networks, like Marc Dubuisson, though for now he still posts to his site as well (a site is still more practical to browse the archives, for instance).

  • Dominated by autobio
    As previously discussed when introducing Jo, the overwhelming genre in French webcomics is autobio, possibly enhanced (with a smattering of “political commentary” strips here and there); you could consider them to be blogs that are drawn rather than being written. I am not going to offer theories on why this is the case, at least not yet; I will just note that the field is still relatively young when compared to webcomics in general: almost no French-language webcomic existed prior to 2004, and diversification from the genre the local pioneers started around is a slow process, even if we can now see the first examples of this diversification.
  • No appearance schedule
    Time for full disclosure: this is a matter that directly affects this pseudojournalism hobby, and if French creators were to adopt this custom, it would make my planning of which events to attend much easier. With that in mind …

    If you look at the site for a French webcomic, you won’t find any appearance schedule (Maliki being a notable exception; may they be blessed for the next 1000 generations). It’s not that the creators always stay at home, never to meet readers: if they are published, they do go and attend conventions and shows, but only advertise those when the date is close, on social media. It would be presumptuous of me to explain why this is the case; I will just note that creators have limited involvement with their convention appearances, which are planned by their publishers (e.g. the booth is always in the publisher’s name), and creators go with these plans.

    But I know some creators who are itching to booth in independence from their publishers, especially when currently they have to split their appearance time between the multiple houses which publish them, so this may change sooner rather than later…

Something that strikes me as I’m reading FSFCPL’s observations now for the third time, is how much his first four points mirror what Brad Guigar describes as his personal new reality over at [subscription, with occasional free posts]. He’s rethinking a bunch of the prime directives of webcomics, a number of which parallel how the French have apparently always done things. With Guigar’s recently announced discontinuation of convention appearances, you have something pretty close to the sixth point as well.

I believe that this may merit some close consideration on both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks once again to FSFCPL for his analysis, and for much food for thought.

Spam of the day:

Cannabis gummies LEGAL IN ALL 50 STATES!

You might want to run that claim by our new Attorney General, who’s hot on restarting the drug war.

Full Of Lebeaupinesque Goodness

I know you’ve been anxiously waiting since I announced it yesterday, so let’s give it up for Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin!

It’s all about crowdfunding today.

First, Laurel launched the campaign for the second (and final) volume of Comme Convenu. No FFF estimate, because:

  • I missed the 24 hour mark and
  • The beginning was so explosive (reportedly being funded in minutes) that from the look of things it would have predicted a 200-300% campaign-over-campaign increase, which while it remains possible, I don’t feel confident predicting at this time.

Nevertheless, at US$308,796 with 15 days left (2998% of goal) at press time, the campaign is well on track to blow away the total of the previous one: $294,666. [Editor’s note: Lebeaupin submitted his piece well prior to press time, and so his prediction has become self-evidently fulfilled.]

Given the imminent launch of the new campaign, Laurel wrote a retrospective of the first one, with a number of interesting production tidbits. In particular, while most books were directly sent from the printer to the France-based distributor she hired, she also had 1000 books be sent to her in the U.S. so that she could sign 700 of them, then send those to the distributor in France by plane. It is one aspect she intends to avoid for the second volume, where she will sign on a separate sheet.

Laurel also took this opportunity to remind us about an explainer on crowdfunding she drew just prior to the first campaign. Nothing long-time Fleen readers are unaware of, but one aspect she mentions is in fact specific to Ulule and KissKissBankBank: for those, pledges are in fact debited at the time of the pledge (though not remitted to the creator yet), and refunded if the project later fails to meet its goal. This is different from the system used by Kickstarter for instance, where at that time the pledger only provides a temporary authorization for an amount to be debited, and nothing gets debited if the project fails.

Both have their benefits and drawbacks: for instance, in the latter case the payment method might have become invalid by the time the campaign ends, which means Kickstarter has to message the pledger for him to provide an updated payment method and allow him some time to do so (it happened to me once when my credit card expired); this in turn impacts when Kickstarter is able to wire the funds to the creator.

And on the occasion of the new campaign, Laurel has been featured, along with Maliki, by France’s oldest extant newspaper, Le Figaro, in an article about crowdfunding of comics in France (also available on the web)¹. Chloé Woitier knows the subject, her article avoids the tired Comics on the web! Without a publisher! Who knew? trope and is very informative, even if unsurprising to someone in the field.

The article does warn, supported in that by a quote from Maliki, that newcomers still can’t use crowdfunding to go around publishers when starting out, as both her and Laurel’s successes are undoubtedly related to the existing reader base they accumulated from their long-running comic blogs (during which they were supported by publishing contracts, related or not, or another job). But if this correspondent might add: how long until sequential art students are made to maintain a webcomic as part of their curriculum, and thus are able to start their career with an existing reader base? Not long, I’d wager.

And in completely unrelated news, Team Maliki just moved to a new house with proper studio space. A move less protracted, but just as entertaining as Jam’s Office Saga.

As always, Fleen salutes FSFCPL and thanks him for his rigor and attention to detail.

Spam of the day:

Eat THESE 2 Foods to regrow hair in 19 daya

Firstly, got plenty of hair, thanks. Secondly didn’t realize there was more than one Daya.

¹ Preceded by another article (web-only) in the tech section, focusing on the other side of the picture of Silicon Valley that Laurel tells about in Comme Convenu.

To The Rescue, Like The Boss He Is

So this week, I’m teaching a full five-day class in four days (read: 10+ hour days), in a basement (read: no cell signal), hooked up to a highly-restrictive guest wifi account (read: no webcomics). I am arriving at the client before the sun is up, and gonna be exhausted by the time the day is done. This would ordinarily be a recipe for no content, but these are not ordinary times.

These are times that feature Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who always finds interesting stuff to talk about, and sends it to me at my least-likely-to-post times. Tell us about state of webcomics live performance events in the European Theatre, FSFCPL:

Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend a talk organized by the SOFIA at the Maison de la Poésie, which was about the ways cartooning can be put on stage; to talk on the matter, Boulet and Marion “Professeur Moustache” Montaigne¹ were interviewed by Paul Satis.

Readers of this blog are no doubt aware of events of this kind in comic conventions, most notably the Super Art Fight format created by Jamie Noguchi [Editor’s note: I believe that Ross Nover also deserves mention here], and such events are a regular occurrence in French comic festivals. Photos were shown of such an event a few years back of a format where cartoonists were costumed, in tribute to wrestling competitions, and where Boulet was a contestant (and he remarked that, just like wrestling, the refereeing was rigged).

However, most of the time these events do not conform to a particular format; in fact, Boulet was critical of these festivals that just put two cartoonists in front of one or two easel pads on a stand as a cheap way to create an event, and he added he did not like participating to such “battles” in general, or to similar “challenges” (e.g. quick successive drawings based on a surprise theme) because of the inability to build up towards a goal.

The same went for events where he had to improvise live based on, say, the music the band played: he mentioned having barely settled on what he was going to draw and started it when the mood of the music changed, leaving him always catching up to it and not providing an experience that made sense to the public. He still does live drawing in festivals, but he plans in advance the scene and only the actual drawing is performed live; no improv.

Montaigne mentioned that, unrelated to the challenge of improvisation, there was the matter of some artists having styles that were less suited than others for the exercise, in particular for artists who always rely on an initial sketch; this made Boulet and her sought-after artists for such events, as both can whip up expressive drawings in no time at all. She also mentioned feeling a duty to show up for such events whenever she could, so as to provide representation for female cartoonists for the people this could inspire in the audience.

Boulet then introduced the “drawn music performance” format he performs with band Inglenook. When Lyon BD festival initially asked him whether he could come up with an event combining music and live drawing, he contacted this band who he knew beforehand to see how this could be done.

He mentioned the biggest challenge was to come up with scenes than could each be drawn in the 3-4 minutes of a typical song: the band plays its songs like it would for any other performance, and he adapts to them, a bit like an additional band player who would play with a graphic tablet and a stylus instead of a violin and bow. He based his drawings on the song lyrics — or how he understands them, anyway, as they are often very symbolic. So as to provide some variation, they alternate songs where he draws with songs where he plays a prerecorded animation.

The talk was followed by a full performance of this “drawn music”. I found it pretty enjoyable; without giving too much away (it’s a kind of “you had to be there”-style event anyway), besides the songs where Boulet actually draws, there are others where an animation is being played where lines progressively appear and end up building a scene which feels much like when he draws, only that some light animation (e.g. red scribbles evoking a flame) occur, and lines progressively disappear at the end of each scene before the next scene starts (this also allows having a few scenes for a song, rather than a single one).

And for other songs a completely different “animation” style is used. Lastly, some songs are accompanied with a speed draw, which I found a bit odd: I am used to watching speed drawings set to music on the web, so I ended up paying more attention to the drawing than to the song, which may not be the aim here.

If you want to attend such a performance, I do not know where or when this will happen next, though your best bet would be Lyon BD, in June.

¹ Disappointingly deprived by nature of any facial hair in real life, much like our favorite mechanical engineer

As always, thanks to Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin for his reporting and analysis; as a special bonus treat, we’ll have another post this week regarding the latest on European webcomics crowdfunding. It’s a good’un.

Spam of the day:

Lost Navajo remedy found to reverse hearing loss

So, I’m confused — is “Chief Running Water” (ick … just ick) the “retired NASA engineer” who discovered the lost Navajo remedy? And if not, why is white dude in possession of more Navajo lore than any actual Navajo? It’s the implausible mixed with the irredeemably racist in one horrible, horrible spam. Good jorb!

² Fun fact that FSFCPL could not have known — as a result of supporting Angela Melick’s final Wasted Talent Kickstarter (whose books you non-backers can still obtain until 15 April!), I am (or will be, once shipping happens) the owner of the original of that particular comic. I know! Terrifyingly appropriate!

Gaaahhhh, So Busy

Thankfully, when all seems bleak, a hero appears to save the day!

I am speaking, of course, of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who dropped me an email chock-full of info about this year’s Angoulême Festival. Take it away, FSFCPL!

The 2017 edition of the FIBD in Angoulême took place last week, and as always it has served as the venue for a number of announcements, some of which do involve the various indie creators we focus on here.

But first, it is good to note that contrary to last year no incident or polemic or injustice to speak of was reported¹, and so let me take the opportunity to congratulate Cosey for his Grand Prix. Cosey is from Switzerland, and this is as good a time as any to recognize the contributions from Swiss authors to the sequential art, such as, I don’t know, creating it in the first place.

On to the announcements!

¹As for our friend Bondoux (actual friendship not included), I must confess I still haven’t wrapped my head around the structure of the various Angoulême committees so I can’t tell you whether he was demoted or anything, but he hasn’t been seen putting his foot in his mouth, so that at least is an improvement.

He included a footnote! That, my friends, is how you get your stuff published here. And also, I must learn more about this Professeur Moustache. Oh, yes, I must.

Spam of the day:

TRUMP: How Americans like you can make money online ($7,197/month)

That is an oddly specific number, but I have no problem believing that he makes a mere seven grand a month (or $86,364 annually). That guy ain’t no billionaire. When he dies and the companies have to be split, his kids are gonna owe into their fourth or fifth reincarnations (most of which, judging by their current behavior, will be as poo bugs).

In Which My High School French Skills Were Not Fully Assed

In case you didn’t read the alt-text in yesterday’s post header¹, I played speculative games about the meaning of culottées. The closest to smart in that digression was the start, where I noted that Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin would have to check me. And check me he did, in the comments:

There is a double meaning, in that « avoir du culot » indeed means “having some nerve”, so culotté -> cheeky, but there is also the meaning of « culotté » meaning “wearing breeches”, something which women were traditionally not allowed to do; the breaking of such expectations is very much in the theme of the series.

Which is to say, I’m an American native English speaker, and I can count it a massive success if I can recall enough of a different language to obtain any two of {train ticket | hotel room | food and booze}. My logic was maybe 30% correct, which is more correct than I had any right being. I’m just chasing past foreign-language glory².

As always, our thanks to FSFCPL for taking the time to correct my egregious inaccuracies without actually using the word dumbass. And now, it’s really nice out on Friday afternoon and I’m going to enjoy it. See you on Monday for the countdown to {doom | salvation}.

Spam of the day:

I see your website needs some unique content. Writing manually is time consuming

You don’t know the half of it. When Jon Rosenberg browbeat convinced me to start this blog, I argued about how long the writing would take. He mocked me, insisting I could knock out 300 – 400 words over lunch without a problem.

Joke’s on him — now I often knock out 700-1000 words over lunch. If I ever figure out how many words I’ve knocked out on this site over the past nearly eleven years, all unpaid, I’m going to be less than fully pleased. In conclusion: Jon, you stole my youth.

¹ For your convenience:

I’ll have to have FSFCPL check me on this, but I’m pretty sure that the title is a pun. Culottes are short pants (a class signifier in the revolution), culo is “ass”, and culottees could slide along the axis of buttcheeks -> cheeky -> impertinent or ambitious or impolite, with the second “e” at the end making it more feminine. Possibly not too far off the recent phenomenon of “Nasty Women”.

² At a screening of Night On Earth some 25 years ago, I was the only person in the theater to laugh at a joke in the Paris segment³, which was entirely in French. A pair of drunken businessmen demand to know where their cab driver is from and he replies Ivoirean, indicating he’s from Ivory Coast — Côte d’Ivoire.

One of the passengers starts laughing uproariously, shouting Il voire rien, that’s why he drives so badly! He’s blind!. Il voire rien means, literally He sees nothing. Later, the cabbie picks up a blind woman; Jim Jarmusch is all about the thematic unity, yo.

³ Everybody laughed nonstop at the Rome segment, missing probably 2/3 of the jokes because it was an improvised tour de force by Roberto Benigni before his career crawled up his own ass and became a parody of itself.