Thursday, 12 November 2009

Mère des arts

An interesting feature about European graphic novels here in The Bookseller. Paul Gravett asks, “Why are comics so much more respected and successful in France and Belgium, and indeed much of the rest of mainland Europe, than in Britain?”

Some impressive sales figures underscore the difference: almost half a million copies of the latest Largo Winch compared to less than twenty thousand copies of the Artemis Fowl graphic novel. If you want to see what the fuss is about, Cinebook has a fabulous range of the best French and Belgian graphic novels – see images above and below; read previews here. And incidentally, in case you haven't seen it yet, we even have the first Mirabilis episode in French up on our main site.

It would be nice to see widespread acceptance of comics as a legitimate storytelling medium in the UK. Even sales on a tenth the scale of the French market would be something worth climbing Nelson’s Column to shout about.


  1. Fascinating post, I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly with your take on the current state of play, although I did find Paul's piece somewhat over focused on the less than adventurous aspect of some of the major publishers again opting to play safe and re-presenting already established Bande Desinee classics under their own imprint rather than encouraging the home grown talent that's actually on their own doorstep. Something that's missing from this account.

    The overall impression created by the piece is that all comic creatives live almost anywhere but the U.K. but as we know the truth is that there is a lot of talent in this country that literally has to make it's own breaks to get any exposure whatsoever.

    I think your initiative in getting Mirabalis translated into French is just inspirational. David and I have been discussing much the same strategy for Cloud 109 as even with a very good contact in France we are stymied unless we can get our script translated first but getting the idiom right is going to be a challenge.

    Anyway thank God for David Fickling, I'm off now to order all three of the first batch of The DFC library and I would urge anybody else reading this to do the same.

  2. We were lucky to have the help of both an English speaker of French (Helen Burton) and a native Frenchman (Mikael Louys) to make sure the translation is in the spirit of the original. However, it's of little use other than to tantalize our friends across the Channel, as Leo and I have no power to do a deal with French publishers. If we did, there'd be a French edition in the works already. And an iPhone version. And a Japanese version... Peter, you stick with the self-publishing route is my advice ;-)