At a press conference in Turnhout, Belgium, the final programme for the Turnhout Strip Festival was announced last week. This year’s edition, which will be held on December 14th to 16th, will be the thirtieth in a row, and the organizers have brought together quite a line-up.
(the 2007 Turnhout Strip poster designed by Richard McGuire)
First up is Kim Duchateau, who will be awarded the Bronze Adhemar (or Flemish Culture Award for Comics) by Flemish Minister Bert Anciaux (could you imagine a British government minister awarding cartoonists like this? Sigh… – Joe). Kim will also be the subject of an interesting and idiosyncratic retrospective exhibition on December 15th and 16th. Kim has a track record of almost twenty years as a cartoonist and comic creator, and is most well known for his strips Esther Verkest and Aldegonne.
(this Pinocchio cartoon from Kim Duchateau’s site works pretty well even through the language barrier)
As is the case with every edition, the Festival tries to balance the new with the more traditional with an extensive exhibition about one of the luminaries of the European comics scene. This year the spotlight is aimed at Michel Vaillant, the car racing comic hero who’s celebrating his fiftieth anniversary this year (see here for Wim’s article on Michel Vaillant at 50 – Joe). It will be the first large-sized Vaillant exhibition ever, spanning the series’ complete history from its start in Tintin Magazine until today, seventy books and twenty million copies later. The exhibition features more than a hundred original pages and, indeed, racing cars. On the 15th and 16th December the complete crew of creator Jean Graton will be present for a signing session.
Although the festival is aimed primarily at a Dutch-speaking audience, several other events will be of interest to foreign comics enthusiasts. Plunk, the strange alien creature that we blogged about earlier, will be present in a larger-than-life format, and will hide several miniature Plunk comics on the festival grounds. Ah, and Luc Cromheecke, Plunk’s creator, will be there as well. This is one of the most hilarious silent comics that I’ve seen recently, so don’t miss it. Next is a trio of American cartoonists, as the US is guest country for this festival. Scott McCloud, who, after his passage on the Frankfurter Buchmesse, will continue the European leg of his (almost never-ending) tour with his lecture on making comics on December 15th at 2 o’clock. Half an hour earlier, Peter Kuper, one of the founders of World War Three, illustrator for Time, Newsweek, The Village Voice and The New York Times and current genius in charge of ‘Spy vs. Spy’, will talk about his work. Finally, Kevin Huizinga represents the newer voices on the comics forum; he will be interviewed together with Kuper by yours truly on Sunday.
(a recent strip borrowed from the Plunk blog, (C) Luc Cromheecke)
All through the day, several smaller exhibitions will be organized about cartoonists who in one way or another broke through in the last couple of years: Judith Vanistendael (Library), Randall C and Brecht Evens, Winschlss & Cizo (Mr Feraille), Simon Spruyt, Philip Paquet and Serge Baeken. Finally, the Dutch edition of Matt Madden’s entertaining and instructive “99 Ways to tell a story” will be presented in the Turnhout Theatre.
For those who are willing to venture beyond Turnhout City Limits, there is also an Off Festival for the first time this year, with quite an impressive offering:
• an exhibition on young Belgian talent in Geel,
• another on Pieter de Poortere (Joe the Eskimo and Marcel Ruyters (Troglodytes) in Herentals
• an impressive show of work by quintessential pictorial storyteller Frans Masereel in Mol.
• an overview of illustrations and graphic design by Jan Van der Veken, one of the best young Flemish illustrators (probably best known for the website for Drawn and Quarterly, which he designed a few years ago)
And if that’s not enough, you are most welcome for a series of breakfast movies, shown at an insanely early hour: Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” and Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis, both at 10 o’clock in Utopolis.
So come and say hello. Tell them your Continental Correspondent sent you, and they’ll look at you as if you’re mad ;-)