Monday, December 24, 2007

foreign languages, cartoons and comics

You know, the fun stuff

If we asked a young lad in the US or even Europe what are the top languages of the animation and comic book industries he'll answer (perhaps a little too enthusiastically) Japanese and English. If asked to name the third, he'll most likely hesitate.

France is the third largest producer of animation in the world, after the U.S. and Japan. Are unsubsidized cinemas more vibrant cinemas just because they're unsubsidized? English-language countries produced 500 movies per year on average during the last decade. These countries offer fewest subsidies. French-speaking ones produced some 200 per year and France is taking the subsidy business, its language and cinematography seriously. French broadcasters invest directly in French animation. The French Centre National de la Cinematographie and other government bodies provide additional funding. France is the only European country with broadcasting quotas reserved specifically for animation. Special incentives are in place for labor-intensive cel animation if produced directly in France. Although the French animation budget is dwarfed by the likes of Pixar and Toei French funding and talent combined with resources in Canada and Belgium have insured that French is firmly established as the third language of animation. In the comic book arena French is on a more level playing field. Europe's biggest comic book fair is in Angouleme, France. According to some accounts France has the second largest comic book market in the world after Japan. France is one of the largest foreign markets for Japanese manga. French is the best bet to enjoy "exotic" stuff, like comics from Korea, China and other parts of the world. Beyond these three languages it's difficult to find a language with a significant strength on both sides of the animation/comic book business. Perhaps Spanish. Other markets worth mentioning: Korea and China look promising. Italy deserves a mention for comic book accomplishments and Russia for wonderful animated fairy tales and some very artistic and entertaining shorts. Croatia and Serbia may be mentioned for past accomplishments and an unusually strong comics scene.

If you're looking for a nice French cartoon check out Le Roi et l'Oiseau (Original French Version) (The King and the Mockingbird).

Script by Paul Grimault and the poet Jacques Prévert, based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen. Anime fanboys will appreciate that Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki cites Grimault's work as an influence.

Here's an interesting article about manga fever in France.

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