French Comics Framed

October 7, 2016 | By French Culture

On Wednesday October 5, Cultural Counselor Benedicte de Montlaur delivered the following words during an opening reception for French Comics Framed, a month-long festival celebrating Franco-Belgian comics art and featuring a selection of some of France’s best comic-book illustrators. The event took place at the Cooper Union in New York. 

Good evening everyone! As Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, it is my pleasure to be here at the Cooper Union with you tonight to celebrate the singular art of Franco-Belgian comics through this beautiful exhibition.

Comic books, or Bandes dessinées as we call them in France, hold a special place at the heart of French culture. Many generations of children across France have grown up with these stories. Parents and children have shared and compared heroes from their favorite illustrators. As a result, we have a very intimate relationship with these works, they are treasured by many.

Comics are deeply rooted in French culture. And at the same time, inventive storytelling and visuals have drawn audiences from around the world to French comics. These works are as innovative and challenging to their form as any high art genre. It's not a surprise that classics from Tintin to the Smurfs, or more recently, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, have become so well known and loved in the US and around the world. And there is so much more where that came from. I hope that this festival will be a chance for many of you to discover new favorites.

It is a great pleasure to take part in this project, led by the French Comics Association, to bring this body of work and artists to New York audiences. I would like thank Philippe Ostermann and his whole team for taking up the challenge and for their tireless work.

The spirit of the French Comics Framed festival is well encapsulated by the wonderful visual that was so aptly chosen to promote the festival: it shows a girl holding a comic book, and stepping across the Atlantic from New York to Paris. Through this festival, we aim to bring the tradition of French comic books here to the United States, and to share the joy of French comic book culture with American audiences.  

I would like to thank David Greenstein and the Cooper Union, who have opened their doors and their windows to this exhibit. This amazing building is an ideal space to showcase these works.  

Let me also thank the partners without whom this event would not have been possible : the Syndicat National de l’Edition and its president, Vincent Montagne, who is with us tonight, the Centre national du livre,  and the Bureau International de l'Édition Française.

In addition to this exhibition, French Comics Framed will host numerous events here in New York. No less than 18 illustrators will come from France this month. I won’t name them all, but the list is as impressive as it is diverse. Many of them will be at the New York Comic Con in the coming days for book signings. You can check out the complete program in the festival brochure or online.  We hope to see you at our events throughout the festival.

We are proud to be taking part in this wonderful initiative, and I look forward to watching it unfold. As artists and comic book fans from Europe and the United States join together, we hope to see new cultural perspectives and professional relationships develop. We are honored to have our European friends here with us, and we are sure that their artwork will be loved by American audiences during this festival, and in the future.

I thank you all for joining us for this event, and I wish you a wonderful evening here at the French Comics Framed Festival. Thank you.