When I drew this cartoon in 2005, I was a guest of La Maison des Auteurs in Angoulême, France. “The House of Authors” is sort of a residency program connected to, um, a cartoon school there, that, uh… well, it gets complicated as only French things can. No one associated with the various institutions could explain it all to me exactly. Of course, it didn’t help that I did not speak French, but were they ever good to me! I had a wonderful two months there.
My French friends are, as I write this, gearing up for the 2012 version of The International Comic Strip Festival (loosely translated), one of the world’s best comic festivals, held every January in Angoulême. I wish we were there!
This cartoon actually was inspired by one of my favorite cafes in Angoulême. The original Chat Noir in Paris has been gone for more than 100 years, and today it is remembered more for its iconic black cat logo by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen than anything. We still were selling a ton of those posters when I worked in the college bookstore.