You know that the countdown for Angoulême has begun when the Festival publishes its shortlist – the books that have been nominated in the four categories of its awards. When the jury does its job well, the selection is a good reflection of the state comics in France; but if the jury is recalcitrant, its selection is much more interesting.
This year, the selection is pretty straightforward : there’s something here for everyone. The list includes titles in a traditional format as well as more graphic novel-like publications, and nearly all genres are equally represented. Still, there are some pretty remarkable notes to make.
The Sélection Officielle, which represents the best of French comics (or rather, the best comics published in French during the past year), contains a lot of books that were originally published in English : Anders Nilsen’s Big Questions, Moon & Ba’s Daytripper, La Ruche by Charles Burns (as could be expected), the latest episodes of Fables and Walking Dead and, most remarkable, Automne by Jon McNaught (not in the least because it’s the only book published by an English publisher, in French).
Also on the list, Monsieur Strip, the insanely absurd daily comic by Yassine and Bletner (collected by Alter comics), Jacques Tardi’s very gripping story, Moi René Tardi about his father’s plight as a prisoner of war during World War II, the second episode of Blain and Lanza’s Quai d’Orsay (graphically one of the most amazing series I’ve read in the past few years) and, strangely, Alix Senator, the latest attempt to reboot the classic Roman times comic, Alix.
La Sélection Jeunesse once more lists good “traditional” BD, episodes in ongoing series : Esteban, the hilarious Le Royaume and the fourth episode of, a very good detective comic featuring three London kids mentored by Holmes himself. The Hilda graphic novel by Luke Pearson (Nobrow, again) and Nix’s Billy Bob (see at least two posts in the past) are also listed, which is a good thing : I guess these are not really books that parents will buy for their kids because they’re too weird, their art is too strange, etc. Being listed in the Sélection at least will give them extra publicity, extra room in the libraries and, perhaps, the attention of a parent searching for something else than another run-of-the-mill manga.
On the Sélection Patrimoine, which aims at highlighting publications that keep important books alive, new editions of Terry Et Les Pirates, Pépito and Krazy Kat, but also Paul Kirchner’s Le Bus (which originally ran in Heavy Metal in the 80′s), a new edition of Mazzucchelli and Miller’s Batman: Année Une (which is effectively treated as a classic work of BD literature here!) and, quite remarkably, a new H.M. Bateman collection publishde by Actes Sud / L’An 2.
Finally, the Sélection Polar lists five crime comics, amongst which the quite remarkable L’Assassin Qu’elle Mérite, a noir thriller set in 1900′s Vienna, and Anthony Pastor’s classic Castilla Drive.
Like I said, this promises a rich and varied festival. I’m counting the days!