“The 2015 festival will be a time to remember but we also want to demonstrate that life goes on,” said Franck Bondoux, one of the festival organisers, who said he hoped this year more people than ever would show up.
In 2014 more than 200,000 cartoonists and fans from around the world attended and this year the terrorist killings of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists will loom large over the event.
There will be a major exhibition about Charlie Hebdo at the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l’image in Angoulême, and different front pages of Charlie Hebdo back copies will be posted all around the town, which is famous for its association with cartoons and comic strips.
Among other tributes to Charlie Hebdo, the festival has set up a virtual album including contributions from French and foreign artists, and a special Grand Prize will be awarded to the satirical newspaper on Thursday in recognition of “all its output”.
At the weekend another accolade, the “Charlie Prize for freedom of expression”, which was created the day after the staff at Charlie Hebdo were gunned down, will be awarded posthumously to the murdered cartoonists.
In future years the prize will be awarded to cartoonists around the world who struggle to uphold the right to freedom of expression.
The festival is not just focusing on Charlie Hebdo, however.
Manga cartoonist Katsuhiro Otomo, the Japanese creator of the cult series Akiro is among the favourites in the running for the Grand Prix d’Angoulême. Also in the running is Briton Alan Moore, the creator of Watchmen or V for Vendetta (whose V mask has been adopted by the hacker group Anonymous) and the Belgian cartoonist Hermann Huppen, known as Hermann, whose output is very wide ranging.
Among the stars at this year’s festival is Jirô Taniguchi, whose work is the subject of a major retrospective for the first time in Europe.
The festival programme is available at www.bdangouleme.com.