The Spirou Tour is a series of events throughout Belgium, France and Switzerland, organized by the Journal de Spirou during the year in order to celebrate the 75th anniversary. This Saturday, the Spirou Tour made its Swiss stop, in Lausanne on Lake Geneva.
Held in the local fnac (a big chain bookstore), the main attraction was a collection of comic artists doing dedication sketches and signatures: Bertschy (Nelson, Smax), Derib (Buddy Longway, Yakari), Mix & Remix, Cosey (Jonathan), Christophe Dubois (La ballade de Magdalena), Mara (Clues), Valp (Ashrel), and Eric Buche (Franky Snow). None of them actually have any connection with Spirou, or – apart from Bertschy – with the Journal as far as I can tell, but they are all Swiss, and the Tour makes a point of featuring local talent. (This week’s Journal de Spirou is a tie-in issue where they are all profiled, and with short stories by Buche and Valp.)
The artist tables were fairly well attended, with grown comics fans as well as young kids (and some grown comics fans with young kids) lining up. The space got pretty crowded! The artists generally put significant time and effort into every sketch, not just drawing quick doodles, but some quite detailed pieces. The store had announced that only books bought there would be accepted, but this was not enforced (as long as each person bought something), and they happily drew in much-loved, dog-eared and taped-together copies, treasured special editions, or even on loose pieces of paper. Since the event was Spirou-themed, the artists had been asked to incorporate that into their sketches, so they’d offer to draw a Spirou character or one of their own, often in a Spirou costume.
Given the time devoted to each sketch, the lines for the most famous artists could take a while, and they were only scheduled for a couple of hours, so fans had to prioritize. I was lucky to get sketches by Cosey (non Spirou-themed) and by Valp and Mara, whose work I didn’t know beforehand but who both draw in a nice, modern, somewhat Disneyfied style.
In addition to the artists, there were people dressed in Spirou costumes handing out paper hats and issues of the Journal, free lottery drawings with various books and albums as the prizes, and some promotional “swag” (really just paper leaflets and cards) to take home. There was apparently also a talk by the editor of the magazine and a reception afterwards, but I skipped those parts of the show.
All in all, I found the Spirou Tour to be a great initiative to build excitement around Spirou and to raise the profile of comic artists in the different regions of the Franco-Belgian comics world. The lack of any actual Spirou artists in attendance (the Lausanne event had to compete with the Munich Comic Festival, which drew Yoann, Munuera and others) meant that this particular stop fell short of a can’t-miss Spirou fest, but if – like me – you’re a fan of any of the featured artists, it’s certainly worth visiting.