Angoulême International Comics Festival has announced the programming for its 51st edition taking place January 25-28, 2024 and it is once again an astonishing lineup – with the original artwork of Riad Sattouf, Lorenzo Mattotti, Moto Hagio AND Hiroaki Samura gracing galleries together for one weekend only. Added to it all will be spotlights on critical rising star of the Franco-Belgian comics circuit Nine Antico, a showcase of the scriptwriting process and work of Thierry Smolderen, and more. Official exhibition catalogues from 9ᵉ Art Editions will be produced for Lorenzo Mattotti and Moto Hagio.
In addition to the announcement of the exhibitions, Angoulême 2024 debuted the original poster designs by Riad Sattouf, Hiroaki Samura – featuring his iconic Blade of the Immortal protagonist – and rising star Nine Antico. And to top it all off – the eagerly awaited Official Selections of top books up for the highest awards in the Franco-Belgian industry were released (a full breakdown of which will be covered in a separate post).
In a press release, Angouleme FIBD artistic director Marguerite Demoëte said,
“The promises of the Festival’s 50th edition make way to those of the 51st, under the sign of movement and resolutely focused on engaging with young people, fostering creative endeavours, encouraging transversality, and fostering dialogue across various art forms. From the intimate yet political ‘Grand Prix’ winner Riad Sattouf to the settings of voyeur Nine Antico and Lorenzo Mattotti’s vibrant runner figures, Angoulême showcases different eras. Perspectives circulate and open up to a world on fire as the subtlety and wit of comics, a lively, creative, limitless medium, continue to startle, arouse, and challenge readers.”
“We aim to weave a dynamic connection among comic readers, authors, and professionals, among book pages and exhibition walls towards new horizons, perspectives, and creative practices. For its 2024 edition, the Festival is set on carving a new course whilst honouring the trodden paths.”
Angouleme International Comics Festival (Festival international de la bande dessinée d’Angoulême aka FIBD) is one of the focus events of world comics and sits at the bastion of the Franco-Belgian publishing scene, taking over an entire medieval French town some 100km from Bordeaux, France. Founded in 1974, it today attracts over 200,000 visitors annually – including thousands of professionals (publishers, creators and more) from around the globe – making it the third largest comics event in the world after Lucca Comics & Games in Italy, and Comiket in Tokyo, Japan.
A Breakdown of the Big Exhibitions for FIBD 2024
- Riad Sattouf, 2023 Grand Prix recipient, will serve as headliner – but instead of a career retrospective (which admittedly he already had a pretty solid one at the Paris Pompidou Centre in 2018-19) it will be a deep dive into his critically successful autobiographical magnum opus The Arab of the Future which concluded with its sixth volume in November 2022 [note: only four have been translated into English by Two Roads Books/John Murray Press between 2016 and 2019]. It will take place in the town’s Vaisseau Moebius.
- Moto Hagio (The Poe Clan, The Heart of Thomas, Otherworld Barbara) gets the big career retrospective at the Angouleme Museum. The ‘God of Shojo Manga’ – exploring how her 50-year career has left an indelible mark on Shojo Manga.
- Hiroaki Samura will have his first ever major exhibition – focusing largely on the work of grand opus Blade of the Immortal – promising over 100 plates and illustrations of the landmark series that ran in Japan from 1993 to 2012 in Kodansha’s seinen manga magazine Monthly Afternoon, and became an international hit. It will be in Espace Franquin.
- Paris Olympics tie-ins: Italian comic artist and illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti will have a themed exhibition at the Angoulême Museum to coincide with the Paris 2024 Olympics – The Art of Running/Catching the Race [‘L’Art de Courir, Attraper La Course’] – showcasing aspects of his portfolio centred on the theme of human motion. Another Olympic themed exhibition at the festival will be Starting Line(s): No Point in Running? [‘Ligne(s) de départ rien ne sert de courir?’] which asks four members of the next generation of comic artists (Lisa Blumen, Nina Lechartier, Jérémy Perrodeau and Chloé Wary) to produce work related to running.
- Prolific comics writer (and comics scholar) Thierry Smolderen will have a special exhibition at Vaisseau Moebius looking at his work in collaboration with artists and the process of writing for comics
- Nine Antico will have her own career retrospective inside the Saint-Simon Hotel spread across two floors. Her work has regularly received critical praise and a number of awards – with her most recent book Madonnas & Whores already receiving a prize in recent months.
Keep scrolling for a close up of the posters and more info on each announced exhibition.
THE EXHIBITIONS [Note: Quoted exhibition synopses translated from French via DeepL]
Riad Sattouf, The Arab of the Future, A Work of the World [‘L’Arabe du future, Oeuvre-Monde‘]Location: Vaisseau Moebius, January 25 to May 5, 2024
Curator: Caroline Broué
“Riad Sattouf, winner of the 2023 Grand Prix at the Angoulême Festival, is inviting visitors to the 51st edition of the Festival into his world through the gates of his latest work: L’Arabe du futur (The Arab of the Future).
“Launched in 2014 and completed in less than a decade, Riad Sattouf’s groundbreaking work The Arab of the Future offers an infinite number of possible readings. That’s why the exhibition devoted exclusively to it is an invitation to reread it through the eyes of the world. Emphasis is placed not only on the autobiographical dimension of the series, which centres on the young Riad and his family, but also on what it reveals about Riad Sattouf’s acuity as an author and what he gives us to see, understand and analyse about the contemporary world.”
“More objective than reverential, the exhibition brings to life the characters, places (mainly Brittany and Syria), customs, eras and cultural differences between the West and the Eastern Mediterranean that run through the six volumes of the series…”
Moto Hagio, Beyond Genres [‘Moto Hagio, Au-Delà des Genres’]
Location: Angoulême Museum, January 25 to March 17, 2024
Curators: Léopold Dahan & Xavier Guilbert
“The Angoulême Festival is devoting an exceptional retrospective to Moto Hagio, the revolutionary, multi-award-winning author whose long career has been marked by diversity – of themes, of genres – and an absolute thirst for freedom.
“Fascinated by manga from an early age, Moto Hagio made her debut in 1969 in the pages of the girls’ magazine Nakayoshi. But it was in 1971, after joining the magazine Shôjo Comic, that she made her mark with the story November Gymnasium [precursor to The Heart of Thomas], influenced by the writings of Hermann Hesse. At a time when women’s fiction was struggling to free itself from the influence of Osamu Tezuka, Hagio began a veritable revolution in the shôjo manga landscape, with stories whose ambition and seriousness stood out from the rest of the genre.”
“…Celebrating a career spanning more than fifty years, the Moto Hagio, Beyond Genres exhibition will look back at the history of shôjo manga and present the essential role played by the author in its true (re)invention in the early 1970s. Organised around three key themes (“the end of innocence” or the construction of a shôjo manga centred around characters at the dawn of adolescence; “the age of possibilities” or the use of science fiction and fantasy in a speculative exploration of roles, genders and relationships in imaginary societies ; and “the time of consequences”, where stories are set in a context that is now rooted in contemporary reality), this retrospective is an invitation to discover a body of work whose place in the history of the world of comics remains fundamental.”
Hiroaki Samura, Body and Weapon [Corps et Armes]
Location: Espace Franquin, January 25 to 28, 2024
Curator: Fausto Fasulo
Exhibition centred around Hiroaki Samura’s landmark manga series Blade of the Immortal
“With the first exhibition devoted to Hiroaki Samura and his magnum opus L’Habitant de l’infini (Blade of the Immortal), the Angoulême Festival is paying tribute to the talent of an artist whose influence quickly spread beyond the borders of Japan and the manga medium.
“A virtuoso draughtsman and a genius of sequentialism, Hiroaki Samura (born 1970) shocked readers right from his first series: with Blade of the Immortal, a samurai manga that stretches out insane choreography over thirty volumes published between 1993 and 2012, the author betrayed a personality that was willingly disruptive. With little interest in period stories, he approaches the genre with the insolence of a neophyte, dismantling its archetypes with refreshing impetuosity and intuition
“…Essentially centred on this monument to samurai manga, the Hiroaki Samura: Body and Weapon exhibition invites visitors to wander through a feudal Japan where blades and flesh face each other, touching and mingling, in a cruel and melancholy ballet recreated through a striking scenography. With over a hundred original plates and illustrations covering the entire series, this is the first major exhibition devoted to this seminal artist.”
Lorenzo Mattotti with Maria Pourchat, The Art of Running/Catching the Race [‘L’Art de Courir, Attraper La Course‘]
Location: Angouleme Museum, January 25 to March 10, 2024
Curator Marguerite Domoëte
A collaborative exhibition between the renowned Italian artist Lorenzo Mattotti and the French novelist Maria Pourchat to coincide with the Paris 2024 Olympics, focused around the theme of running.
“Exhibited for the first time at the Angoulême Festival, at the Musée de la Ville, Lorenzo Mattotti has seized upon the Cultural Olympiad – an artistic and sporting alliance as part of the Paris 2024 Games – to deliver a flamboyant and plural vision of the art of racing in the throes of change. A vision underlined by Maria Pourchet’s ardent writing.”
“…For the Festival, the arts meet not only around running as a sport, but also around running as an escape, in an animal and archaic version. L’art de courir. Attraper la course brings together around a hundred drawings by Lorenzo Mattotti and short fictions by Maria Pourchet. Where they meet, they echo the strides of runners who, since the dawn of time, from the humus of the forests to the tarmac of the big cities, have walked the earth.
“Lorenzo Mattotti’s sublime images, in all techniques and formats, bring the colours of the race to the walls of the Musée d’Angoulême. They show how drawing can take hold of a vast planetary movement, where the individual blends into the group or breaks away from it, favouring natural paths, away from stadiums and material constraints. In this dialogue between artistic expressions, we consider bodies, speed, repetition, training, primary movement, breath, momentum, and the idea of a race that is either impeded or emancipating.”
Thierry Smolderen, The Script is a Work in Progress [‘Les Scénario est un Bricolage‘]
Location: Vaisseau Moebius, January 25 to May 5, 2024
Curated by Thierry Smolderen & Jean-Pierre Mercier
Spotlight on the prolific comics writing work of Thierry Smolderen
“Thierry Smolderen won the prestigious René Goscinny Prize for Best Scriptwriter at this year’s Angoulême Festival for his album Cauchemars ex machina, which he co-created with artist Jorge González, and his work is now on show upstairs at the Vaisseau Moebius. A unique opportunity to enter the inner world of a creator who wears many hats.
“Thierry Smolderen’s name is inseparable from the world of comics. For the past 35 years, this native of Brussels has been collecting skills related to the 9th art: he is by turns a scriptwriter, teacher, researcher, historian and theorist of comics. Much of his research is devoted to the classic authors of the genre, such as Winsor McCay, George Herriman, Milton Caniff, Hergé and Moebius. The work of the latter two was the subject of his very first theoretical essay, published in 1983, Les Carnets volés du Major – Les aventures d’Hergé et Moebius feuilletonistes [‘The Major’s Stolen Notebooks – The adventures of Hergé and Moebius as serial authors’]. Another key focus of his studies was the protohistory of comics, culminating in what many consider to be his magnum opus, The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, published in French in 2009 [English edition published 2014].
“As a scriptwriter, Thierry Smolderen has distinguished himself in all forms of genre storytelling, from his first collaboration in 1984 with the illustrator Séraphine, for the series Hybrides (Temps Futurs, then Glénat), to Cauchemars ex machina (Dargaud) published in 2022, in which he re-examines the codes of the detective story. Between these two projects, he tried his hand at science fiction, adventure serials, spy stories and biographies, delving into the life and work of the creator of Little Nemo (McCay, Delcourt, 4 volumes between 2000 and 2006, drawing by Jean-Philippe Bramanti) [note: complete English edition published by Titan in 2018].
“The exhibition mirrors Thierry Smolderen’s intuitive approach to scriptwriting, using disparate fragments he collects (notes, snapshots, film stills, etc.) from which he draws his inspiration. The composite setting of the exhibition features over a hundred plates by the author’s collaborators. As a fun and educational bonus, visitors can try their hand at the art of scriptwriting, with explanations of key concepts. Finally, a number of projects in the pipeline are presented, proof that Thierry Smolderen is an inexhaustible tinkerer.”
Nine Antico, Room with a View [‘Chambre avec vue’]
Location: Saint-Simon Hotel, January 25 to 28, 2024
Curators: Marguerite Domoëte and Cathia Engelbach
“Nine Antico first came to the attention of the Angoulême Festival with her first album, Le Goût du Paradis [‘A Taste of Paradise’], which was shortlisted for the Prix Révélation in 2009. Two years later, she was recognised with two titles in the Official Selection, Coney Island Baby and Girls Don’t Cry, and this year she has been shortlisted again with the album Madones et Putains [‘Madonnas & Whores’]. Nine Antico has made the Hôtel Saint-Simon her ideal space, somewhere between intimate theatre and fantasised landscapes.
“Nine Antico entered the world of comics through the joyous, madcap hustle and bustle of Parisian concert halls. A fan of indie rock, she throws her sketches into a notebook while standing in front of the stage, her gesture subject to the impulse of the audience and the pulsations of the subwoofers. When she’s not offering her drawings to the musicians at the end of a concert, she’s putting them together in a fanzine, Rock This Way, of which she self-published a handful of issues in the early 2000s.
“A self-confessed autodidact, Nine Antico is now the author of around ten works in which she explores a wide range of genres, from autobiography to romantic biography, children’s books and erotic comics. This child of the 1980s, fed on the images and icons of American pop culture, enjoys summoning up references and varying tones in her books and on screen. At the heart of her script: women, in all their states. Young or old, pin-up girls or porn actresses, distraught lovers, dreamers or disillusioned, alone, in a duo or trio, groupies or amazons, observers or subjects of all eyes, madonnas or whores, but always fiercely funny and touching.
“With almost 200 pieces (notebooks, fanzines, personal archives, storyboards, etc.), including around a hundred originals, the exhibition showcases the richness of a body of work in which lightness and gravity are constantly in conflict…”
Shepherdess Warriors: The Grand Quest of Jonathan Garnier and Amélie Fléchais [‘Bergère Guerrières: La Grande Quête de Jonathan Garnier et Amélie Fléchais’]
Location: Chais Magelis (Quartier Jeunesse), January 25-28, 2024
Curator: Benjamin Roure
“Winner of the Fauve Jeunesse [Kids Prize] in 2022, the Bergères guerrières series [Shepherdess Warriors, English edition coming January 23, 2024 from Ablaze], the brainchild of scriptwriter Jonathan Garnier and cartoonist Amélie Fléchais, is on show in the Quartier Jeunesse in the form of a fun exhibition. Young and old alike will have to be daring as they try to win the Shepherdess Warrior crest!
“…The Shepherdess Warriors exhibition invites young and old alike to embark on a less dangerous but just as thrilling adventure in the magical settings that make up the world of the series: from Molly’s seaside village, reminiscent of the Scottish coastline, to an Asian-style citadel, via the wizards’ forest and the dog breeders’ mountain hamlet. It’s up to visitors, immersed in a magical atmosphere that’s by turns eerie and luminous, to improve their skills and abilities in order to – who knows? – earn their title and don the cape of the Warrior Shepherdess!
“In the midst of these recreated lands, the exhibition also invites visitors to discover the creative work of its two authors, Amélie Fléchais and Jonathan Garnier, whose series, published by Glénat, touches on a range of important themes, such as the role of women in wartime, ecology, solidarity and heritage. The exhibition also takes a side trip, presenting original plates and drawings by the creators, and touching on some of their key influences, from fairytales to fantasy. Finally, a surprise awaits the brave visitor: the unveiling of projects based on the universe, such as an animated series. Ready for adventure?”
Starting Line(s): No Point in Running? [‘Ligne(s) de départ rien ne sert de courir?’]
Nouvelle Création (formerly Pavillon Jeunes Talents), January 25-28, 2024
Curators: Marguerite Domoëte & Sophie Dusigne
“To mark the 51st edition of the Festival, four artists and comic strip authors are being invited to take part in a brand new collective exhibition. Lisa Blumen, Nina Lechartier, Jérémy Perrodeau and Chloé Wary are in the starting blocks, ready to take part in an artistic race full of surprises.
“This year, the Nouvelle Création space (formerly the Pavillon Jeunes Talents) will be welcoming the best of the next generation of comic strip authors for a brand new and original team performance. The artists were first assembled on a large starting stage, and then it was up to each of them to imagine and draw their own starting line! It’s the sports race – at the heart of a narrative and free format, expressed in all its concrete or symbolic forms – that’s at stake here.
“…Facing the creation itself, the backstage graphic worlds of each of the participants are presented: notebooks, roughs and preparatory work give a glimpse of all the questions that prefigure such an event and lead to the – sometimes missed – departures. Lastly, sound extracts from interviews accompany the creation, setting the pace of the artists and visitors caught up in the race, four unique voices that eventually intermingle, as the space given over to the performance blends together.”