Bilal and French comics

The cover to 32 decembre, Bilal’s latest, just-published, comic album. Comic albums in France are generally larger than American comics. A French album measures 24cm by 32cm, or roughly 9 1/2 inches by 12 1/2 inches. An American comic measures 6 1/2 inches by 10 1/2.

Production values are usually better on these albums as well, meaning they’re on better quality paper stock and use better printing techniques. So before you eve see the art or read the story, you realize you have a higher-quality product in your hands. Of course, it’s entirely possible to print shit on pretty paper–I don’t mean to say that French comics are by nature better than American. I’m only pointing out the differences.

I don’t really know anything about this new work, 32 decembre. But the Bilal/Christin collaborations I mentioned earlier certainly aren’t the sort of thing you’d find in most American comics. Black Order Brigade, for example, concerns two factions, on opposite sides of the Spanish Civil War, who take up arms again in the 1970s. French comics, like their Japanese counterparts, generally cover a much wider range of genres than do American comics, which focus on superhero, fantasy, and science-fiction.

Which means, unfortunately, that French comics haven’t found much of a market here yet. Only a fraction are ever translated into English, and even the French-language originals don’t make it into many American shops. I’m still investigating where I can buy the French books–can I order from a U.S. supplier, or do I have to order from Canadian or French merchants?

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