The Adventures of Tintin, Gaston Lagaffe, Titeuf, Spirou et Fantasio, Thorgal, Lucky Luke, Gai-Luron... No doubt you’ve heard the names of these famous comic strips which bring delight to young and old alike. Highly rated by fans of the genre, France and Belgium (and Switzerland, too) have historically been the countries which have given us some of the biggest names in comics. French comic strip authors include Claire Bretécher (Agrippina, Tourista) and Joann Sfar from Nice (Professor Bell, The Rabbi’s Cat). For our Belgian friends, André Franquin, Hergé, and Philippe Geluck (Le Chat, Les Aventures de Scott Leblanc) are illustrious representatives of an art form that sits somewhere between drawing and literature. As for festivals, if you get the chance head to Angoulême in Nouvelle-Aquitaine for the unmissable International Comics Festival held every January. Across the pond, the Quebec Festival of French-Language Comics is the leading event.
But did you know that comics can also be a really interesting way to learn French? Firstly, they are genuine documents – in other words, they haven’t been modified for foreign learners. Of course, this makes them harder to read, but it’s always helpful to be faced with a more unusual document that reflects the language of everyday use. Another advantage of french comics is that they combine words and pictures, facilitating overall comprehension and making texts more accessible. If there’s a sentence in one of the speech bubbles that you don’t understand, don’t worry, the illustrations are there to help you. The humour in comics also plays a positive role, creating a relaxed atmosphere to help make learning French more fun! It will also help you to gain a better understanding of a country’s unique national sense of humour, lending an extra social and cultural interest to comics. For example, the famous Plantu cartoons which appear on the first page of Le Monde will give you an insight into the news as seen by a French person. Finally, there are comics to suit all tastes, all ages and all levels! The genre includes historical tales, detective series, adaptations of novels, science fiction stories, parodies... You’ll definitely find what you’re looking for. Happy reading!