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In France, Comic Books Are Serious Business

ANGOULÊME, France — It’s a big year for comic book anniversaries. Batman’s 80th is this year, and Asterix is turning 60. But at the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France, which finished on Sunday, there was a sense that the form’s best days may be yet to come — in the French-speaking world, at least.

“It’s a kind of golden age,” said Jean-Luc Fromental, a comic book author who also runs a graphic-novel imprint for the publisher Denoël. “There has never been so much talent. There have never been so many interesting books published.”

There are now more comic books published annually in France and Belgium than ever before, according to the festival’s artistic director, Stéphane Beaujean. “The market has risen from 700 books per year in the 1990s to 5,000 this year,” he said in an interview. “I don’t know any cultural industry which has had that kind of increase.”