|South Korean artist
The Atelier Sint Lukas Exhibition will feature work from the Flemish comic arts program of study in Brussels, Belgium., with cartoonists and teachers Johan de Moor and Nix on hand to offer short, open workshop demonstrations. Other planned exhibits include a spotlight on "Rahan," a popular "Turok"-type character, and an exhibit organized by the Atelier Somzot artists' collective. Exhibits designated especially for youth include one dedicated to the children's comics of Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Gilbert (with a hundred original pieces of artwork) and another dedicated to characters from "Tchô," a popular children's comics magazine (with props, life-sized cut-outs, and interactive computer terminals). Overall, says Beaty, "this year [the Festival] seems to have moved a bit more to the commercial side of things, but it's hard to say that this is an overall trend. Last year they had a number of avant-garde exhibitions, this year none. It's a crap shoot from year to year."
Perhaps this year's greatest missed opportunity is the annual international exhibit, dedicated each year to a different invited nation. South Korea was last year's guest, reportedly stunning audiences with a wealth of material largely unknown in the west. "Two years ago they [South Korean cartoonists] came and camped out in the press tent and they were invited back to put on a show," said Beaty. "They did a blow-out job, and everyone was shocked to learn a lot about Korean comics." This year, however, the Festival committee has invited "Groland," a fictional nation depicted in an eponymous French comedic television series produced by Canal+. The Groland exhibit will feature specially-produced comics art meant to represent the fictional comics history of Groland. The actor who plays the "President" of Groland will be on-hand throughout the festival, apparently in character. Beaty calls the choice "stupid and lazy. One of the highlights of the festival is often the exposure of new cartooning cultures that people were unaware of... This year is just, from what I can tell, a crass marketing deal with Canal+. That's disappointing."