Speech from Cultural Counselor Baudry at French Embassy Comic Book Party!

November 13, 2012 | By French Culture

On the occasion of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York invited six of the most innovative voices in French contemporary comics to discuss their creative process with New Yorker Art Editor and TOON Books publisher Françoise Mouly.

The panel, made up of past winners and finalists in the world renowned Angoulême comic book festival’s prestigious annual book competition, showcased the broad range of avant-garde graphic styles developing in France today.

Antonin Baudry, the Cultural Counselor, opened the evening with the following speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

Good evening and welcome to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy!

Tonight, we are about to hear from six of the most innovative voices in French contemporary comic book creation: Nine Antico, Blexbolex, Anouk Ricard, Florent Ruppert, Clément Baloup, and Zeina Abirached. I cannot wait… but a few words before we begin.

As the Cultural Counsellor of the French Embassy, my job is to promote the cultural exchanges between France and the United States. But as some of my colleagues know, I am also an agent double… Well sort of. In my other life, comic books are my passion and I like thinking about cultural differences through the language of comics.

Think about American superheros for example. Isn’t it funny they are all big and strong? Think about the Hulk, about Batman, and even Aqua Man… And now, think about French superheros. Who do we have?

We have little Astérix and the small village of indomitable Gauls - which is a bit like the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. I think it means a lot from a diplomatic point of view.

Comic books invite us to fantasize and to dream. They aren’t only about images and words. They are about a world of imagination, about the unconscious mythology of a writer or a country.

Tonight, I am extremely happy that our French avant-garde is being translated in the US.

I would like to thank all the American and British publishers involved in this process. They contribute not only to the circulation of challenging and innovative books; they are our literary ambassadors across the Atlantic. Together, we are the best of all teams, the Avengers of the 21st century. I would also like to thank Bill Kartalopoulos, who highlighted French comics in the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. And I would like to a extend a warm welcome to the New Yorker Art Editor and TOON Books publisher Françoise Mouly, who is moderating this panel tonight. Françoise has been an avid promoter of comic books since the 1980s, and she was just awarded France’s highest honor: the Légion d’Honneur.

Je suis, chère Françoise, très heureux de votre présence ici ce soir.

Without further ado, I will give the floor to Bill who will present his Festival.

Bonne soirée!

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