Hugo Pratt designed the very first poster for the show. - Mathilde Loire

  • The FIBD association is organizing, for the 46th edition of the Angoulême Comics Festival, an exhibition dedicated to its first years.
  • The co-founder of the festival, Francis Groux, and his daughter Delphine, president of the FIBD association, recount the genesis of the event.
  • The show was an immediate success from its creation in 1974, despite censorship.

It was the year that saw the birth of Papyrus, the Punisher and Wolverine. That of the creation of Associated Humanoids and the first work of Futuropolis editions, Patamousse . George Pompidou was still president, Claude François was at the top of the charts. And this famous month of January in 1974, a small lounge with "international" ambitions is launched in Angoulême.

Forty-six years later, on the occasion of the 2020 edition of the Angoulême International Comic Book Festival (FIBD), the FIBD association looks back at the genesis of this great event in a souvenir exhibition. Visible during the festival, from January 30 to February 2, 2020, in a room on rue Hergé, Souls of the seventies - When the festival was called a fair tells the story of the event, photos, anecdotes and posters to support it.

"An event which was the fruit of their passion"

"2020 is a somewhat exceptional year for the festival, with BD 2020, and for the city, which has recently been designated" Creative City "by UNESCO, recalls Delphine Groux, president of the FIBD association and granddaughter of Francis Groux, one of the co-founders. It seemed essential to us that all of this was because in 1974, a bit eccentric people decided to create an event that was the fruit of their passion. "

At the origin of the festival, there are therefore Francis Groux, Jean Mardikian and Claude Moliterni. The first, passionate about comics involved in the local association, approaches the second at the time deputy mayor for Culture, to organize cultural events on comics. The third had organized ten million images in Paris : the golden age of comics, the first major comic strip exhibition in France.

The co-founders of the show during the first edition. - Mathilde Loire

A first poster designed by Hugo Pratt

“I started by making exhibitions on comics, remembers Francis Groux. Nobody knew at the time, we were few amateurs in Angoulême. Groux and Mardikian organize in 1972, with the help of Molitarni, a "Fortnight of the comic strip". Franquin, Gotlib, and other famous authors come to dedicate to the municipal museum. Success is there, the event well received by booksellers, authors and the public. In 1973, Claude Moliterni invited Groux and Mardikian to the international comic book fair in Lucca, Italy, which he co-founded. "The organizers agreed to copy them, and we started three months later, in January 1974."

André Franquin, Hermann (Comanche), Jacques Martin ( Alix ), Claire Brétecher ( Les Frustrés ), Jean-Claude Fournier ( Spirou ), Fred (Philémon), but also Harvey Kurtzman, editor- in-chief of the journal Mad , or Burne Hogarth (Tarzan)… The guest list is already prestigious. Hugo Pratt designed the first poster, on which Corto Maltese invited the public to travel.

20,000 visitors in the second year

The success was immediate: 10,000 visitors came to meet the comic strip authors at the Angoulême museum, which hosted the first “fair”. "This is the first time that so many comic book authors have come to Angoulême," says Francis Groux. We obtain the support of the local press of Sud- Ouest, of Charente Libre. From Paris, the mayor hears about the show and returns to Angoulême to receive the authors. He says to them "I welcome the cartoonists" ... »

The following year, attendance doubled, with 20,000 visitors. "There was a snowball effect," says Delphine Groux. People were well received, and the authors were already friends, everyone met in Angoulême in a good-natured spirit. The living room moves to the Marquee of Trestles in France, "installed in front of the music school". The ancestor of the “bubbles”, these big capitals in which the editors set up their stands. We sell the very first issue of Howling Metal there , Jacques Martin burns an original plate of Alix on the square in front of the town hall, and Jijé, Morris, Peyo and Jacques Tardi go in their turn to the living room. Annie Goetzinger is crowned "Hope of the comic strip", while the American Will Eisner receives the Grand Prize.

In 1975, Jacques Martin burns an original plate from Alix. - Mathilde Loire

The big names follow one another, each edition is entitled to its moment that the old ones tell together. And as early as 1978, debates focused on the question of the status of comic book authors. "All these anecdotes, which we tell in the exhibition, helped to make the festival famous," said the president of the FIBD association.

As early as 1978, the question of the status of authors was already raised. - Mathilde Loire

Hergé, the consecration

For Delphine Groux, the foundations of FIBD as we know it today - it is now organized by the company 9e Art + and welcomes around 200,000 people each year - "were already laid at the time". “The show was international from the first year. The "infernal trio" of the founders already had the necessary contacts, network and communication tools. "

When it first started, the comic book fair had to face the commonplace censorship of the time. - Mathilde Loire

However, it was not so obvious to speak of BD in the 1970s. Censorship was still in order. “From the first year, we had problems with censorship. We got hooked by the bishop, too. But we ignored it and we held on. "Until the consecration, which, for Francis Groux, comes in 1977." We had appointed Hergé honorary president, and he came to Angoulême for the 4th salon. A photo of Hergé in rue Marengo can be seen in the exhibition - since renowned in his honor, the street is at the heart of the festival-goers' journey.

Hergé came to the show in 1977 for the first time, a consecration for Francis Groux. - Mathilde Loire

"Wherever I go, we know the FIBD"

In four years, the festival will be 50 years old. “We are going to make an exhibition in the courtyard of the museum, to return to the cradle. And until the age of 50, we will return to a decade a year, announces Delphine Groux. "

“I was thinking of organizing a small demonstration, and that only the children would come, remembers Francis Groux, a nostalgic smile on his lips. But it came at the right time, when comics were evolving and becoming more and more accepted. "Today," wherever I go, we know the FIBD. "

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