Clearly, the Festival is consolidating prizes under the "Angoulême" brand name, excluding where possible awards not directly controlled by the organizing committee or its sponsors (with the perennial exception of the Grand Prix). "It's ironic that the Angoulême awards are as prestigious as they are, because they're not the most well thought out awards of the year," says Beaty. "I think, obviously, it's because the press comes to this event so they get reported on." Of the French cartoonists nominated this year, those with work available in English include David B., Lewis Trondheim, Joann Sfar and Marjane Satrapi. English-language cartoonists and writers nominated for French editions of their work include Charles Burns, Neil Gaiman, Seth, Alan Moore and Adriane Tomine. The list of nominees also includes collected French editions of Hulk and Daredevil comics. "This is a juried award so it really comes down to who is on the jury in any given year — much like the Eisners," explains Beaty. "It's clear that they put a superhero fan on the jury for the first time ever, and that has made things look a little strange." Despite a handful of nominations going to publishers Éditions de l'An 2 and l'Association, Beaty criticizes the Festival awards for generally neglecting the French alternative press: "They never get to the really alternative stuff from Fremok and so on, but focus on the more commercial aspects of the small press, like Satrapi. Not that there's anything wrong with Satrapi."
If this year's Festival marks the beginning of "chapter two" in the story of Angoulême, the heavy foreshadowing evokes certain dread. The organizing committee's ambitious, expansionist agenda has inspired decisions based not upon an appreciation of comic arts, but rather upon a desire to build a cultural enterprise beneath the "Angoulême" banner. If "Blake & Mortimer in Paris!" is any indication, the Festival intends to market multi-media experiences connected to already popular material, rather than to establish Angoulême as a place — or, even better, a way — to directly engage an international art medium in its various expressive forms. Most disturbing is the Festival's inherent rejection of comics as a distinct, narrative art form, de-emphasizing the artistic possibilities of juxtaposed images on a page (and, secondarily, the aesthetic pleasures of original comics art). Thévenet has explicitly minimized the value of exhibiting comic strip art in a manner appropriate to the art's narrative function, prefering to superficially celebrate comics' conventional (commercial) modes of picture-making, with an emphasis on communally remembered content over form. Thévenet essentially seeks to use comics themselves as a kind of label or "brand name" that will attract visitors to events that may or may not have value, but that won't necessarily be directly engaged with the form that Angoulême supposedly celebrates. The Festival cheerfully threatens to abdicate its vast potential to articulate a greater appreciation of the cartooning arts on the public stage, seeking instead to capitalize upon those comics that are already well-liked. Disturbing as well is the Festival's willingness to shut out voices such as the ACBD because they are not directly controlled by the Committee and are not, by extension, responsible to the Festival's corporate partners. An Angoulême Festival that seeks to create a global brand-name for comics-at-large while excluding valid institutions like the ACBD can only invite reproach and distrust.