The 36th annual 'Festival de la BD' was graced by my presence on the last weekend of January.
Not that it cared very much.
It was MASSIVE! I've not been to many conventions but compared to when I went 10 years ago it has at least tripled in size. Imagine an exhibition hall packed to the brim and then apply that to a small town. You could hardly move down the main street.
Of course when it started it was small and personal. You could easily go up to an artist and get your book signed but now you have to get in line with a ticket you got earlier. Of the locals I met none of them were BD fans though they enjoyed them and enjoyed the festival in its younger days. But you get that attitude where ever you go. If you're a fan Angouleme is the place to go. In fact there are heaps of conventions all over Europe and as far as I can gather they're all the place to go. Angouleme just happens to be the biggest.
The major publishers all had stalls with the artists set up doing signings. It's a real shame I didn't like any of the artists that were there. Except of course for Jean Giraud. But as I said before you needed to have a ticket which you'd picked up before some where else. The website is a mess, my French not so good and the place so poorly sign posted that I didn't understand any of this. I'll know next time.
The independent publishers where all there too and much more approachable. You could wait for only a couple of minutes and get a great little drawing/painting. I found some cool little anthologies - one even had a Dean Rankine comic in it! But once again, in my flustered state, I didn't profit from this and came away with only a few drawings.
They had a great tent full of second hand BD, original art and BD merchandise. You could grab a great bargain here. And I did. I found almost all the comics I've been looking for and not wanting to buy new (mainly because of new printing techniques and paper quality). I looked through lots of portfolios of work for sale and scrutinised how the greats do it. I learnt a few things.
Over all though my experience was very much like my experience at Bristol. I got very flustered and frustrated and felt very small and untalented. I had met up with my mate Roger Mason (who went to the festival 5 years in a row, made good contacts and got a job) the day before in London to chat comics and get some tips and contacts. Of his contacts I only managed to meet up with 2 and only one liked (some of) my work. I did manage to interest a couple of others who gave me their cards and asked me to email them some more stuff. I'm not holding my breath though. Going there really made me realise I've still got a way to go.
Sorry to not go more in depth. I'm an artist not a writer. But not a very dedicated one otherwise I would have done a comic about it.