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Friday, February 09, 2024 

France's industry reaching higher

The UK Guardian says comics in France are building up, and have doubled their fame in the past few years:
It is testament to the fresh energy injected into the BD market by the pandemic: between 2019 and 2021, fanned by measures such as the Culture Pass that gave teenagers hundreds of euros to spend, it almost doubled in size from 48.4m sales a year to 87.2m. “We didn’t expect this phenomenon [to last] after lockdown was lifted,” says Marie Parisot, marketing and commercial director of Dargaud, publishers of Blake and Mortimer and Lucky Luke. “Everyone was worried people would stay at home, turned in on themselves.” Now one in four books of any kind sold in France are comics.

But then we are talking about the realm of Asterix and Spirou, Tintin and Babar: the indefatigable Franco-Belgian comic-book tradition. It has deeper cultural roots than its US and UK counterparts: where the latter appeared mostly in ephemeral newspaper strips in the 19th century, the Francophone version made an early play for bourgeois respectability, often published as bound books to be given to well-behaved children. And it has benefited from governmental intervention designed to support bookshops, such as the 1981 law sponsored by then-culture minister Jack Lang that forbids discounting practices that go beyond 5% of a book’s cover price.

With 3,500 independent bookstores (as many as the UK and US combined), France is fertile territory for comic-book creators to concoct an unrivalled breadth of styles. “What is incredible is that the slightest little title here has something interesting,” says veteran BD journalist and editorial director of website ActuaBD, Didier Pasamonik. “Independent comics with a circulation of 600 are just as high quality as those with 100,000.”
Well they can be more creative in their own way than most USA mainstream are now. Most important to consider is that in France, children do read comics a lot more even today than north America's have in the past 3 decades, and if you know where to look, a lot of European comics can have more of a sense of sophistication than what mainstream USA comics and animation are offering. As a result, much like Japanese manga, that's why French/European comics are proving far more reputable, and as noted before, they even tackle serious issues. And that's good.

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