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Saturday, December 31, 2022 

French comics combine with wine

Prospect has an article on French comics that're focusing on wine development:
Anyone who visits Pages & Cépages in Paris is not only likely to leave with a bottle of wine; they might also pick up a comic book about wine to enjoy it with. Indeed, this independent wine and bookshop carries around 2,000 books dedicated exclusively to food and wine, a full tenth of which tell their stories through illustrated strips. The size of this selection can be attributed to co-founder Laurence de Cabarrus’s fondness for bandes dessinées (the French term for comic books), a love she shares with many French readers of all ages.

This francophone passion for bande dessinée, or BD as the genre is commonly referred to, is perhaps best known internationally through characters such as the moustachioed Gallic warrior Asterix or the intrepid Belgian adventurer Tintin. However, these heroes are just the tip of an iceberg that has been growing beneath the waterline: market intelligence provider GfK recently published a report revealing that France’s BD sector experienced a record year in 2021, having reached a turnover of €889m with 85.1m books sold. Manga, a style from Japan, accounts for a significant portion of this success, but not only; GfK also found that genres such as nonfiction had witnessed a steep rise in popularity. Such is the importance of BD in French literary culture that it is regularly referred to as the “ninth art”. Around 200,000 visitors flock to Angoulême’s international BD festival each year.

While the topics covered in BD are incredibly varied, wine, another pillar of French culture, has only recently become one of its focus points. Les Gouttes de Dieu, an acclaimed Japanese manga with a wine-driven plot, was one of the first to hit French bookshops: volume one was published in France in 2008, after being translated by French comic book publisher Editions Glénat, and the series now contains over 40 volumes. De Cabarrus also credits Les ignorants—a nonfiction title that documents the year-long exchanges between a French winemaker and the book’s author-illustrator—as being something of a trailblazer for graphic novels on wine. Since it was published in 2011, a wide range of wine-focused titles have appeared on the market. Recent and upcoming releases include a black and white detective story that dives deep into the world of natural wine and a portrait of a woman winemaker featuring vibrant pastel illustrations.
And these are all the kind of subjects you never see mainstream publishers in the USA dealing with. I'd strongly suggest independent creators take some cues from European illustrators as much as Japanese, and try making wine, among other foods, into a focus for a comic book.

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