|the Hôtel de Ville
The Festival International de la Bande Dessinée (FIBD) is a sprawling four-day event consisting of massive outdoor exhibitor tents for international presses, booksellers' areas, a busy schedule of programming, several major art exhibitions, and several smaller ones besides. The event is staged in various locations throughout the town of Angoulême, occupying local theaters, galleries, and public spaces, including facilities of the Centre National de le Bande Dessinée et l'Image (CNBDI). The Festival increasingly draws coverage from the French press, with special attention paid to the dramatic moment when the Festival's "Grand Prix" is given to the cartoonist who will serve as the following year's festival president. (Last year's "Grand Prix" was proclaimed from the balcony of the palatial Hôtel de Ville.)
The 2004 FIBD runs January 22 -25 and is the 31st annual iteration of an event that has grown considerably since its inception as a more modest "Salon" in 1974. The festival emerged during a breakthrough period in adult BD that saw the founding of several popular French anthology magazines (A Suivre, Circus, l'Écho des Savannes, Fluide Glacial, Metal Hurlant, etc.). These began the trend establishing comics as a mainstay in French culture without generational bound; graphic albums collecting serialized stories from these magazines and others paved the way for an entrenched BD presence in French bookshops. As last year's Festival closed, French minister of culture and communication Jean-Jacques Aillagon announced a trebling of the state's financial commitment to the event, from 65,000 Euros to 195,000 Euros, and re-affirmed the government's dedication to comics — as a branch of publishing, he specified, rather than as an art form.