It was neck and neck at the end of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival‘s opening night debate, but in the end, the audience voted by just one vote to establish Asterix as the character most deserving that cherished place on your oversized bookshelf – just beating Tintin in a fun debate to kickstart the weekend.
Between Asterix and Tintin, the two much-loved characters have spawned 60 books, 24 movies, dozens of scholarly works, at least one theme park and an entire art style, ligne claire. Their creators have been deified with honours like the Legion d’Honneur and demonised by being banned from libraries over the years. But the weird thing is: few people like both of them. You’re either an Asterix or a Tintin fan.
For the opening event of LICAF 2016, the team behind the event, working with Lancaster University, decided to try and settle things for good, bringing together two top teams to slug it out on stage – without the help of a magic potion – and establish which character most deserved the top spot
Putting the case for Tintin was Dr Benoît Peeters, novelist, philosopher, Professor of Comics at Lancaster University, and author of two books on Tintin’s creator, Hergé. Holding out gallantly against the oppressors was Peter Kessler, BAFTA award-winning producer and author of The Complete Guide to Asterix. The event was hosted, gamely, by comic creator Hannah Berry.
Benoit spoke eloquently of Tintin creator Hergé’s art and place as the originator of the ligne claire art style, backed by comic book writer Leah Moore, who told of how Tintin convinced her from an early age that it was more than OK to love adventure and rocket ships, and Australian comics scholar and creator Stuart Medley.
Championing Asterix and his original creators Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, Peter Kessler adopted what some might regard as emotional arguments in favour of the Gallic rebel, backed by Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard (later announced Comics Laureate) and VIZ artist Graham Dury, whose main argument that Asterix was better because Uderzo could draw horses while, he claimed, Hergé could not, and avoided drawing them had the audience in stitches. (This despite images presented to the contrary by the opposing side earlier in the night!)
Every round of the debate was punctuated by on the spot sketches of proceedings from Luke and Steve McGarry, bringing their fast-draw cartooning talents to the table illustrating the event as it happened – a couple of them far too adult for this family-oriented web site.
There were video vox pops, too, from cartoonist Sergio Aragonés (for Asterix), comic creator Bill Morrison (Tintin), The Simpsons film director David Silverman (Tintin), Jonathan Ross (Tintin), Darcey Bussell (Tintin), Alan Carr (who claimed he was Tintin), Jack Whitehall (also a Tintin fan) and others, but despite the Tintin fervour it was the diminutive Gaul that won on the night, to the delight of his fans and dismay of anyone with an alcoholic sea captain as a best friend.
It was, overall, an entertaining and enjoyable opening event for the fourth Lakes Festival (some technical glitches swiftly overcome to the relief of all!), which continues until Sunday. (And most involved admitted that they loved both characters with near equal measure, really).
Online, a poll on the Festival’s Facebook page echoed the event’s result – but the poll will close at mid day on Saturday, so who knows which character might win in the virtual world? You can vote below, and view the results here.
Also announced by Steve McGarry was the new National Cartoonists Society Sergio Aragonés International Award for Excellence in Comic Art, the first winner to be announced at the Festival next year (13th – 15th October 2017), an event which will see an apearance by Sergio himself.
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival runs from 14th – 16th October 2016. Taking over the town of Kendal, on the edge of the Lake District, the Festival features international comic artists and creators, as well as live drawing, film, exhibitions, comic trails, workshops, performance, master classes, free Family Zone and independent publishers.
• For more about this year’s Festival, which runs until Sunday, visit the Lakes International Comic Art Festival web site: www.comicartfestival.com | Find the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on Facebook | Follow the Festival on Twitter @comicartfest