The situation of comic book authors, whether they are so-called “complete” authors, screenwriters, cartoonists or colorists, remains predominantly precarious. The data put forward by States General of the Comic Strip in 2016 were confirmed by the Racine Report which, after a long delay, raised some low hopes.
The pandemic has only further highlighted the difficulties. The postponement of numerous publications, the cancellation of most collective events, the drastic reduction in meetings with readers and educational activities have created a shortfall that state subsidies are not sufficient to fill. Beyond this situation which has lasted for almost a year and of which we still do not see the end, it is the entire economic and social system of comic book publishing which is called into question.
The legal status, social protection and revenue sharing of books are questioned. The Racine Report gave an official version of the problems and outlined the draft solutions, which would require lengthy negotiations between representatives of authors, publishers, broadcasters-distributors, vendors and the state. But, in an admittedly chaotic year, the changes have not been significant.
- Demonstration in Angoulême 2020
- Photos : Cédric Munsch
At least this is the observation that the Autrices Auteurs en Action collective. Based a year ago almost to the day, he was heard in Angoulême on the occasion of a demonstration of an unprecedented scale relayed on the stage of the Théâtre d’Angoulême, by the voices of Gwen de Bonneval and Fabien Vehlmann, during the ceremony of handing over the Fauves 2020. In March, on the eve of the first confinement, the drafting of a ” Charter of good practices in festivals and other cultural events linked to books and comics Was launched. The collective has since had the opportunity to recall its demands.
- The statue of Hergé in Angoulême during the demonstration of the authors of January 31, 2020. Photo. : F. Hojlo.
But the authors remain mobilized and anticipate the end of the health crisis, which will not mean for them the end of the economic and social crisis. This is why the AAA collective has just published a new forum, addressed directly to the French Minister of Culture and to the International Comic Strip Festival, and intended not only to warn about the current situation, but also to encourage the definition of a statute for authors and a fair distribution of income at within the “book chain”.
The collective starts again from the Racine Report, which called on the State to assume a regulatory role in this sector, which is as much a cultural as a financial wealth for France but which cannot live without its creators. As an extension of the forum of January 2020, which had brought together nearly 1,400 authors, this new text recalls both the disastrous management of contributions by Agessa  and the – sometimes grotesque – difficulties related to the transfer of skills from Agessa to Urssaf . Also remembered are the call for a boycott of trade fair and festival-type events if nothing changes and the resignation of Florence Cestac, Catherine Meurisse, Régis Loisel and Jul, the four godmothers and godfathers of the Year of the Comic Strip last October.
- © Loïc Secheresse 2020
The forum also denounces the lack of remuneration for authors whose extracts of works are exhibited. in dozens of stations across France, at the initiative of the FIBD and the SNCF. Finally, Ms. Bachelot is blamed for the discrepancy between her speeches, which proclaim her love of culture, and her decisions, reduced to the minimum.
However, the collective does not stop at words. The authors mobilized thus call, unless the government decides “ at the place of [leur] professional status, [leur] representation and a fair rebalancing of the book chain “, at ” total boycott of the public side »Of the Angoulême Festival for the events planned for the end of June 2021. It would then be several hundred authors  who refuse to participate in meetings, signings and other events, often unpaid, involving them directly.
The ball is therefore in the court of the Minister of Culture and the leaders of the FIBD, who may have a certain influence as organizers of an event of international magnitude. But the 48th edition of the Angoulême Festival opens in just over five months …
- © Olivier Josso Hamel / Authors Authors in Action 2020
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