Last October, we were lucky to host French cartoonist Antoine Maillard as the fourth laureate of our writing residency program A Room with a View. He stayed for five weeks, during which he participated to Litquake Festival, talked at Stanford University, and even travelled to Seattle and Portland!
Just a month after his arrival on the West Coast, Antoine Maillard has already seduced the literary and graphic stage of the area. From the Litquake Festival in San Francisco to the Short Run Comix & Arts Festival in Seattle through Portland State University and Stanford University, the two French illustrators have exhibited, presented, drawn but mostly conquered the American public.
Maillard's trip in Seattle and Portland, with fellow illustrator Melek Zertal, offers new perspectives for the future of French illustration in the United States. The works of Antoine Maillard, laureate of Fall 2018 writing residency A Room with a View, stirred up the enthusiasm of Fantagraphics Books for a potential future collaboration, while Melek Zertal will participate in the next event organized by Short Run Festival. This is the beginning of an amazing French-American collaboration, where the mythical landscapes of the West Coast keep inspiring French authors.
Antoine Maillard tells us a bit more about his trip: "Seattle was an intense and unforgettable experience. The Short Run Festival and Larry Reid's reception allowed us to appreciate how alive the independent American comic strip is and how different it is from the French culture. There is a real relationship of family closeness between publishers, artists, festival organizers or even just collectors. Larry was a real guardian angel during our stay, he made us benefit from his experience as a Seattle native and arranged an amazing tour of the city for us. Kelly Froh's welcome at the Short Run was amazing, probably the best reception I have ever received at an independent festival, all in generosity and thoughtfulness.
During this event and also during lectures and classes at Portland University, we noticed the difference in the content and reception of the comic strip and graphic novel by the American public. It may be the biggest surprise of my five-week stay. Here, people are very sensitive and enthusiastic about new graphic processes (for instance, the risography that Melek Zertal uses in her works). But above all, there is -- -- in the content of the works a real appetite for diversity and stories in tune with our times, symbols of current American societal issues. I have rarely seen so many comics with protagonists of varied skin origins and colors, with diverse gender and sexual orientations, and a great deal of history relating to current ecological and socio-economic changes.
Also, visiting Snoqualmie Falls and its surroundings, near Seattle, filming locations of David Lynch' s famous Twin Peaks, has been an unforgettable experience. It will remain a rare moment of inspiration and daydreams."