“Mr. Poirot achieved fame as a private investigator after he retired as a member of the Belgian police force in 1904. His career, as chronicled in the novels by Dame Agatha Christie, was one of the most illustrious in fiction.” - From Hercule Poirot’s obituary on the front page of The New York Times, Aug 6 1975
Once upon a time, I was a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). During my senior year I had the distinct pleasure of spending two months in France, gorging myself on French comics (bandes dessinées or “BD” for short) and falling head over heels for the beautiful books I brought back with me. I even attended the comics festival in Angoulême which this anthology focuses on, and I still consider it one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
This study abroad opportunity continues on, providing students an experience unique to their class yet achingly familiar for a graduate looking fondly back on their own trip. As I read this book, I was reminded of so many places and sights: the statue of Herge’s head, Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese standing watch over the water, murals by comic artists turning the entire city into a work of art, and how it seems inevitable that there will always be at least one day that it pours.
From Sweet Tea to BD: an Angoulême Excursion is a delightful collection of (mostly) one page travelogue comics by the 25 students and one professor that went on the Lacoste, France trip this year. Each comic highlights moments that stood out in each student’s adventure, be it a shared moment with friends or their overall feelings about seeing the city and meeting the artists whose work they treasure. There’s a sense of getting to know these up-and-coming comic artists through what is important and worthy of sharing. From the adorable title to bonus photos from the trip in the back, it’s a solid collection capturing the humorous and heartfelt experiences many find upon entering the event.
If you’ve attended the festival, as a student or not, and seen the beautiful city of Angoulême, then brace yourself for some intense nostalgia. At worst, you’ll laugh at the antics of these rambunctious SCADlings; at best, you’ll see yourself in these pages and be reminded of how comics, no matter the language, affect every fan, student or casual reader alike.
“Euroblow” n, a smashing, dashing, stylish blow of excess chalk from the fingertips; aka “French blow” was popularized by French mega-star Patrick Edlinger in the documentary La vie au bout des doigts (1982), in which we see the trademark blow giving him amazing free-soloing powers, augmented by running shorts and a red bandana, in France’s Verdon Gorge. Wrote Dale Goddard in a 1988 Climbing piece: “Ever since Edlinger popularized the practice… the French have been conspicuously turning their heads to the side and with a casual expression, blowing their fingertips.”