We're back from France, and I'm still playing catch up on work and admin stuff around the studio--but I can't resist making a quick post about the trip!
The main anchor of the trip was attending the Quai des Bulles festival in Saint-Malo, on the Breton coast about 3 hours northwest of Paris. I had never heard of QdB (referred to colloquially by most French as simply, 'Saint-Malo') before I was invited by my French publisher, Akileos, but it was described as being France's second-largest comic convention (after the behemoth Angouleme), extremely family-friendly, and located in a really neat town. I had trouble finding much information available in English, about the town or the convention, so I just packed my bags and hoped for the best.
It's very hard to summarize what a wonderful time I had. Everyone treated me like gold, the convention was chock-full of enthusiastic young comic fans, the city itself is jaw-dropping, and the food was to die for. Talk about a best-case scenario! Dave compiled the best of our photos from the weekend and some video footage into one video package! Here 'tis:
I loved hanging out with the Akileos crew, and the other authors they publish. We had some great dinners together, and they really took amazing care of Dave and I! They also kept me full of macarons! (I think the chocolate and passion fruit flavor was my favorite.)
My most sincere and humbled thanks for this opportunity to to Richard Saint Martin (Akileos PR guru and translator extraordinaire) and Emmanuel Bouteille (Akileos Editor), both of whom were an absolute joy to get to know. We laughed, we cried, we ate a lot of salted butter caramel.
The rest of their convention staff provided me with vital support on the show floor, explaining my book to anyone who didn't speak enough English to understand my pitch. Thank you so much Fred, Aurelien, and Diane!
Finally the Akileos authors we spent the weekend with were a hoot. I count myself lucky to be among them. Thank you to Dan Lish, Ian Culbard, Mara, JP Kalonji, Ted Mathot, Ronan and Vincent! Can't wait to see you all again.
Dave and I fell unabashedly in love with a particular Breton pastry we'd never heard of before: kouign-amann (sounds like, Queen Yaman). They're everywhere in this city, but it took us till Saturday to actually try one. After that it was all we wanted to eat, and we're still talking about it.
Dave wrote up a Quai des Bulles convention report for The Beat! He spent more time than I did walking the floor and taking pictures, especially of all the neat comics we saw--so it's worth a read.
After three wonderful days of festival, we were on to Paris.
Paris, we'd heard a whole lot more about, obviously, and we only had a couple of days to spend there. It was a bit of a whirlwind. See this thing, go here, meet someone there, look at that thing very quickly. I wish we'd had more time, but I was grateful for what we had! Paris really is full of amazing comic shops, and the market for kids' comics there is inspiring. Dave and I felt like we could see the future of where our own industry might be going.
On Tuesday I did a lovely signing at the fantastic Arkham Comics! They specialize in American comics, and have been big supporters of Smile since it came out last year. I got to meet a bunch of my kind and eloquent readers there, as well as hang out with the store owners: Philippe and Philippe! They took us out for our best meal in Paris before the signing, and when we got back to the store, things were busy!
I was especially stoked to see two of my friends, Erika Moen and Matt Nolan, who live in Portland but were traveling through Paris en route to Strasbourg. Nothing like seeing familiar faces in a strange land!! Thank you, Matt and Erika, for making time to come and see me on a rainy day.
And thank you, Philippe and Philippe, for hosting me and making me feel right at home.
The next day, I had a short signing at a French-language comic shop, the lovely and huge Librairie BD Net. I got to meet a few French readers there, as well as an American or two! Richard from Akileos was able to be there, and as always, it was nice to have a translator for those who weren't comfortable speaking English. Thanks a bunch to LbdN for hosting me. I wish we could have bought half the books in your beautiful store!
After the signing Richard took us on a crazy walk around the city, quickly getting in a bunch of the sites we'd missed previously. We covered a lot of territory and by the end, my feet were crazy sore! But it was so worth it. My favorite part was walking around the courtyard at the Louvre, and through a passageway where a man was sitting and playing an absolutely haunting melody on a cello, echoing through the stone arches. Glorious.
We arrived back in New York late last Thursday night, and I hit the ground running, jumping straight back into work the next day. My final book deadline for DRAMA is coming right up, and I still have to finish the inks, create the cover artwork, and do a bunch of production stuff between now and the week before Christmas! So, no rest for me.
Thanks again to everyone who made my trip to France possible, including my readers there! I hope I get to see you again one of these days. Merci and au revoir, until then!