It is estimated that a quarter of a million people visit the small town of Angoulême, France, just north of Bordeaux during the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême, which happens every year in January. To the French and the Belgians, comic strips and comic books are considered a high art form. During this festival, they celebrate that art form and its artists with visitors from around the world.
This year they have a special exhibition honoring 60 years of Snoopy and the Peanuts as they refer to it. (This is because Snoopy is well known, but the name Peanuts does not resonate with the French.) I was invited to join the celebration, so I brought along Andy Beall, Peanuts animator of the new animated special, Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown.
At the festival, the entire 60 years of Peanuts is being displayed on eighteen 4′ x 6′ outdoor panels. This is an exhibition that the Charles M. Schulz Museum would be proud to mount. Although it is outdoors, it is waterproof so the rain will not dampen the show. Fortunately for us, the sun was out today!
The first order of business was an official “walk around” with the American Ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin. Exhibit curator, Dominique Poncet, explained that he wanted visitors to learn the history of the characters and of the stories that repeat themselves year after year just as we do at the Museum.
Inside the Ambassador spoke of the human values in the Peanuts comic strip that cross all cultures and teach us how to laugh at ourselves. I thanked him and said a few words to the gathered group. This exhibit will be mounted in Paris later this year.