The Angoulême International Comics Festival unveils its annual prize list behind closed doors on Friday, while the general public edition is postponed until the summer and threatened with boycott by disgruntled authors.
Only a handful of spectators will attend the event in the city theater in the late afternoon. It is broadcast on the website of France Inter, partner of the event.
Of the 12 awards distributed, called Fauves d’Angoulême, the most coveted is the Fauve d’or, the award for “best album of the year, regardless of genre, style or geographical origin”.
The 48th Festival had to upset its format and postpone its general public component to the end of June, to “adapt to the context of the pandemic”. It could be held entirely outdoors if the health crisis still prevents indoor gatherings, which seems likely.
To compensate for the lack of visibility, the Festival management launched in December exhibitions, in around forty SNCF stations, of the work of comic book authors.
The initiative was not entirely convincing. The Authors in Action (AAA) collective, which is demanding a larger share of comics revenue for authors, lamented that the Festival and the SNCF “are still refusing to pay authors this year. whose work they expose “.
– “Boycott total” –
A column was signed by nearly 700 authors, some of whom are in the official selection for the awards given on Friday, like Zanzim (“Peau d’homme”) or Maurane Mazars (“Tanz”). They threaten a “total boycott of the public side of the Angoulême Festival, next June, if no real and concrete act is taken by then, in the area of our professional status, our representation and ‘a fair rebalancing of the book chain “.
The management replied in an open letter that to allow these exhibitions, the Festival had been forced “to invest, to commit (…) budgets that it does not have, in a word, to go into debt” lack of revenue.
If the authors could not be remunerated, “must we for all that turn our backs on this space of debate and questioning that is the Angoulême Festival? Is not this event, objectively, a place of democratic expression? Is closing it the solution? ”wrote the delegate general Franck Bondoux.
The comic strip suffers not from the erosion of sales, noticeable in other sectors of the book, but from the very low remuneration for authors, except for the best known.
And this gap is widening. According to the GfK institute, the comic book has seen “a significant refocusing of sales around bestsellers in 2020. Their weight has been reinforced throughout the year”.
Despite weeks of bookstore closures, 53.1 million copies were sold in France during the year, an increase of 9%.
One in six books bought today is a comic. The big winners of this craze have been stars like Lucky Luke, best seller of the year with “Un cow-boy dans le coton” (nearly 272,000 copies in just over two months), or Riad Sattouf, with the 5th volume of “The Arab of the future”. They are not in the official Angoulême selection this year, the Festival seeking to promote talents who deserve to be better known.