Comic fans flood Taiwan pavilion at French festival

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Tens of thousands of comic fans flooded the Taiwan pavilion at the Angouleme International Comics Festival in France Jan. 26-29, inspired by the diversity of Taiwan's graphic arts, the Taiwan pavilion organizer said Monday. The four-day festival saw fans lining up outside the Taiwan pavilion, many of whom were eager to collect autographed comic cards of the 20 Taiwanese artists whose works were featured in the 300-square-meter pavilion, said the organizer. Themed "Ocean of Comics," the Taiwan section of the exhibition featured more than 200 works dating back to the 1950s, with a diversity of styles ranging from Chinese ink painting, science fiction and realism to Japanese manga style. The festival in the southwestern French town of Angouleme is the largest in Europe, attracting over 300,000 visitors each year, with thousands of comic artists from around the world participating. A number of European publishers have expressed interest in publishing works by Taiwanese artists such as Chiu Row-long, Chang Sheng, Nell and Chi, the organizer said. Chiu's comic titled "Manhua Bale" was created 20 years ago about the 1930s aboriginal Wushe uprising in Taiwan and inspired Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng's award-winning epic film "Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale." "There are comics in every corner at Angouleme. It almost makes me wonder whether the world really needs so many comics," joked Chiu, upon whom the show had a strong impact. "In France, comics are boutique items, while in Taiwan they are fast food," artist Zhi-yi+ZEI+, whose work drew the attention of the French media, was quoted as saying in a press release. Zhi-yi+ZEI+'s fantasy comics are characterized by their elegant Goethe style and urban and decorative touch. Artists Chang Fang-chih and James Huang both said they were delighted by how comics blend into everyday life in France, where comic strips are designated as the "ninth art." Forums were held during the exhibition to discuss Taiwan's comic history. One of them, on the martial arts comic series titled "Abi Sword" by Taiwanese artist Chen Uen wowed the audience when Chen swiftly drew the protagonist in his classic comic strip on site. Chen's work blends traditional Chinese ink and wash painting techniques with Western illustration style. He was the first non-Japanese artist to win an award from the Japan Cartoonists Association. The annual festival closed with the announcement of the winner of the Grand Prize, which this year went to French cartoonist Jean-Claude Denis. (By Christie Chen)