Every year, the quiet town of Angoulême plays host to a huge comic strip festival – the Festival International de la Bande Desinée.
At the end of January, this annual event that is quite unique in the world, pulls in around a quarter of a million enthusiastic visitors of all ages and from around the world – comic book fans!
Comics are massively popular in France with more than 30 million comic books sold every year. These are not the comics that one might know in the US or the UK, coloured pictures for children to enjoy – these are artwork and stories of quality – just think Asterix.
The art of Bande Desinée or BD as it is generally known, is big in France and when the event was first held in Angoulême in 1974 it was widely supported by the press (many fans there).
The event gained in popularity year on year and at its 4th event it welcomed the famous Hergé, creator of the global phenomenon Tintin and there is now a statue dedicated to the famous artist in the town centre and a road named after him. There’s also a Rue René Goscinny named after one of the creators of Asterix and if you look closely you’ll see that some of the houses in Angouleme have their house numbers written in bulles – the speech bubbles of comic book art.
Some of the buildings in Angoulême have benefitted from being adorned by famous BD artists and even some post boxes are now artworks. There is even a Musée de la Bande Desinée in the town which houses historic original pages of comic book artwork and has a dedicated bookshop to BD on the premises.
The 40th Annual event of the International Festival de la Bande Desinée welcomed Albert Uderzo, best known for the creation of the magnificent Asterix comic book series, to the festival for a retrospective exhibition which included his first drawings, published when he was 14 years old. Every year there is a great line up of top BD artists, exhibitions, young talent competition and an awards ceremony. This is a lively exhibition with workshops and demonstrations and a chance to meet the artists who create these hugely popular comic books.
You can find full details of the authors who will be at the show, practical details for how to get to the show, times and much more on the bdangouleme.com website
It’s a great town to visit, here’s what to see and do in Angouleme