Rachel Davis talks to Jean Paciulli at NYCC 2017 about France, French comics, and a mixture of both: The French Comics Association.

Rachel D.: Welcome to New York Comic Con 2017. My name is Rachel Davis. With me is Jean-

Jean Paciulli: Paciulli

Rachel D.: Paciulli. Paciulli. Thank you. And you are listening to ComicsVerse. Jean, how are you enjoying the Con so far?

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Jean Paciulli: Oh, it’s marvelous to be here. You know, for a French guy living in Paris, coming to New York is always very exciting because this city is the center of the world for me and even for comics. It’s wonderful to be here.

Rachel D.: Oh that’s —

Jean Paciulli: So many energies, so many people, so many enthusiasm. Wonderful.

Rachel D.: Yeah. And we’re so happy to have you here right now for a few questions.

Jean Paciulli: Thank you.

Rachel D.: So, for our listeners who may not be aware of your organization, what is the French Comics Association in your words?

Jean Paciulli: Okay, French Comics Association was born two years ago. Coming from the union of publishers specialized in graphic novels and we have a very strong and big market in Europe for the French language. But compared to what happens here and to what happens in Japan, manga is sold all over the world.

Comics are sold all over the world. So we are very lucky to have a strong French market in Europe but we are unlucky not to be able to make people aware of what is our creation, the dynamism of French artists. So we decided to join our forces to promote, to make you aware of what we are doing, and to invest some money in promotion of our artists and our catalogs.

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Rachel D.: And I love it. Thank you for doing so. Could you describe the differences or the similarities between French comics culture and American comics culture?

Jean Paciulli: I’m not so … I don’t have a very big knowledge of American comics culture, of course, but I see many differences. First of all, you have superheroes and we have Asterix only. No, I think the main difference is you are always doing industrial business, very formatted, going into magazines then, how do you say, hardware format-

Rachel D.: Oh, for hardcover?

Jean Paciulli: Hardcover. Hardcover format.

Rachel D.: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jean Paciulli: We have artists. It’s artcraft, [inaudible 00:02:37]. So it takes time; if you’d say American audience that it takes one year to do 48-pages and then you have to wait for another year to have volume 2, they say, “well, these people are crazy.” And they would come back and not buy the book.

In France, we consider bande dessinée [Franco-Belgian] graphic novel as artistry artcraft and the other is much more, gives much more personal, something personal in his work and it gives probably more creativity, more different genres than in comics.

Rachel D.: No, thank you. Oh, as a publisher, what kind of comics do you want to see published, just in general anywhere?

Jean Paciulli:  Do you mean American comics? Or French comics here?

Rachel D.: Oh, or both. Either one is fine.

Jean Paciulli: Okay, no. I think … I’m a publisher in France and I release 700 titles per year which is —

Rachel D.: 700?

Jean Paciulli:  700, yeah.

Rachel D.: Whoa.

Jean Paciulli: In total, in France, we publish 5,000 comics per year so the diversity, the creativity is enormous. I think there is for any genres, any reader, any type of audience, you can find something that you like. So to my opinion, we cover all genres. In America, I think, you are more mainstream, mass market, and maybe some of the originality of subjects creation that we have in Europe would be interesting for your market and for American readers.

Rachel D.: Yes! So we know French comics kiss better thanks to the title of this festival. What else do you feel French comics do better or can teach the American comics industry or reader? You were just getting into this a bit before, but if you would like to elaborate?

Jean Paciulli: Yeah, well I think diversity. Diversity, creativity is probably what would represent European bande dessinée and yeah, that’s probably something we do better, yeah.

Rachel D.: And not necessarily diverse characters but diverse genres, diverse stories, yes?

Jean Paciulli:  Absolutely. We go from realism to nouvelle vague. And, we go to thrillers from big humor. With 5,000 titles, we have so much different type of style. And that’s a real … It makes our catalog very rich and very diverse.

Rachel D.: Absolutely. So in the United States right now, there seems to be an ongoing discussion about racial, gender, sexuality and other identities being represented in comics. There’s a real push to see more diversity among characters in comics. It’s a continuing dialogue.

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In terms of the French comics community, is there any kind of push from readers to see more of some kind of genre or characterization or anything else that’s sort of, not necessarily happening right now in the French comics industry? Is there anything like that?

Yeah. Well actually, there are many, many, many discussions, you know, in the society at the moment, in France, as in America, about education, genre, this type of thing. That’s surprising, there is much more freedom in bande dessinée, in French comics. You can treat any kind of subject, including sexuality or LGBT or for straight people and nobody would care because of the reaches of the diversity I was talking about.

And even with mass-market success… I released at Glenat, for instance, Blue Is the Warmest Color, which is a lesbian story, we have to say it. And we didn’t expect such big number of readers as the story was interesting, a producer. We developed a movie. I got Palme d’Or in Cannes. So it’s a real success story based on a, you know, very specific subject but okay, that’s normal.

Jean Paciulli

Rachel D.: Just as an aside, I’ve read that comic and it’s phenomenal. It’s one of the most moving comics I’ve ever read.

Jean Paciulli: Yes, me too. You know, it was a very young author when she came to us. It was her first album. She was 18 years old, and the publisher in Champs brought it on my desk and said: “well, what are we going to do with?” And I wrote it … I read it and I said, “but it’s so moving, of course, we are going to publish it.” And it was, you know, I was very happy with the success for her, for the author.

Rachel D.: Absolutely, everyone should read Blue is the Warmest Color. I think it should be required reading for everyone.

Jean Paciulli: Absolutely.

Rachel D.: So where would you like to see Francophile comics go? Are there any kind of directions? What kinds … the next great leap forward in comics that you would like to see?

Jean P.: You mean for the Association here in America? Or —

Rachel D.: Sure, the Association or French comics in general? Just your thoughts.

Jean P.: Well, of course, I would like to get more and more and more readers because I think only 15% of the population reading comics. But you can find anything in comics. You can find game, you can find information, you can learn from comics. So everybody should read comics. Especially we should accept that young people read comics because in France, for instance, always consider “oh he doesn’t read really, he read comics.”

Well so, if you read comics, you read — and that’s it. Apart from that, I think our presence here in the New York Comic Con is absolutely great but I’m not sure … We are not superheroes so I’m wondering if this is right place for us to be here. So as I’m president of the association for just one month, I’m going to really to think about it and to see which kind of event would be the best place for us to present our authors, our catalog, our repertoire.

Rachel D.: Absolutely and we welcome that. I personally welcome that. Looking forward to seeing more. Our last question, what is one way American comic readers can support Francophile comics or the FCA?

Jean Paciulli: Well, first of all, be curious. Be interested. We have a lot to offer. We have an artist to present. And, we have many subjects, many genres, many ways of telling stories. As I mentioned, manga and comics have been sold and have readers all over the world, I think because maybe our market was big enough for French, we didn’t, we were not curious enough to sell our product outside of our country. But I think now is the right time for us to make you discover how rich and how diverse our catalog is.

Rachel D.: Nice. Thank you so much for your time.

Jean Paciulli: Thank you for welcoming me.

Rachel D.: Yes. For more interviews as well as reviews and analyses, make sure to check out ComicsVerse.com. My name is Rachel Davis, and we’ll see you next time.

Make sure to follow the French Comics Association and their great work by visiting their website and following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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