News about the premier academic journal devoted to all aspects of cartooning and comics -- the International Journal of Comic Art (ISSN 1531-6793) published and edited by John Lent.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Vampires rule at Angouleme 2024

As someone who occasionally curates comics exhibitions in Singapore, attending the 2024 Angouleme Comics Festival (after a 10 years hiatus due to work) has been an eye opener and given me ideas on how to curate shows in the future. 

Initially, I had privileged original art as I felt we needed to offer something different from the printed page to the audience. For me, I like to see the errors and amendments made by the artists - the whiteouts and pasteovers. That's what made the Dan Clowes show at Galerie Martel in Paris so enjoyable for me. We get to see the creative choices Clowes made in his covers and pages and we get to have a nice chat with Clowes who was there to do signing. It was a good call by Nick to attend that exhibition opening before catching our train from Paris to Angouleme as Clowes caught Covid thereafter and did not make it to Angouleme. 

The first exhibition in Angouleme to blow the lids off for me was Dracula: Immersion in Darkness, an exhibition of Shin'ichi Sakemoto's new manga, #Drcl: Midnight Children. A site-specific exhibition held in an old church (the Guez-de-Balzac chapel), it shows that you do not need to display originals at all, nor even prints of comics pages or panels. In fact, no physical artwork was shown, but instead video projections, light displays and sound did all the work to immerse you into experiencing a horror comic - yet another adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula but this time, beautifully rendered by Shin'ichi Sakemoto who has a penchant of drawing the baddies like Michael Jackson. 

It was truly a fascinating display and you could stand in the different parts of the church to experience the show. Some, I believe, were there for a long time and watched the projections and displays over and over again.

Others like me and Alfred just fooled around and took shadow pictures. 

Duly impressed, I broke the Nick rule of only buying books that you can get a dedicace. I bought a French copy of #Drcl which I can't read and there is no way in hell I could win the lottery for the Shin'ichi Sakemoto signing at Manga City so I didn't even bother. (same for the Moto Haigo signing)

A video says a thousand words, so here's a video someone took of the 'exhibition'. 

Next on the non-traditional list was the Requiem Chevalier Vampire exhibition at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Featuring the artwork of Olivier Ledroit, the curator(s) made good use of the 100 m² space to feature huge prints of the new covers for the series, draft pages, a guitar, a sword and other things in the photos I took. The main takeaway for me is that if you make hi-res bigass prints, frame them up and display them nicely, they could make as great an impact as seeing rare originals. I helped out in the Comics Embassy show in Singapore 2 years ago and the prints were mounted on styrofoam boards. Yep, they looked thrown away. Lesson learned. Spend a bit of money for some class. 

Fortunately, I already have the first few Requiem books signed by writer Pat Mills 10 years ago so I did not cave and buy the special editions - specially drawn original covers that come with a piece of lace and 500 euros a pop. 

Here's a video someone else shot.

I saw other exhibitions - Moto Hagio, Lorenzo Mattotti, Riad Sattouf, Thierry Smolderen, 77 years of Tintin’s diary, Hiroaki Samura, Nine Antico. All good but if you were to ask me, vampires rule at Angouleme this year. 

(all photos by CT; Clowes photo by Nick)

CT Lim

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