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Cartoon 2021 – Cartoon Springboard

Industry Report: Animation

At Cartoon Springboard, Julien Papelier and Lila Hannou explore the new frontiers of animation and publishing

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The two speakers outlined Dupuis Publishing and Média Participations’ new editorial strategies, which go beyond the traditional “publishing-animation” paradigm

At Cartoon Springboard, Julien Papelier and Lila Hannou explore the new frontiers of animation and publishing
l-r: Julien Papelier, Lila Hannou and Christophe Erbes during the event (© Cartoon)

Day 2 of this year’s Cartoon Springboard (26-28 October) in Valencia hosted a keynote speech entitled “Animation and Publishing: A New Perspective”. The two main speakers were president of Dupuis Publishing and Média Participations general director Julien Papelier, and Média Participations’ VP of Creative Development, Lila Hannou. The talk was moderated by Christophe Erbes.

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In the first part of the keynote, Papelier introduced Média Participations’ activities and its primary mission to “create and share quality content for all”. The broad creative spectrum of the outfit includes comics, literature, children’s books, animation and video games along with a theme park called Parc Spirou, which opened in Provence in 2018. The group controls 85 companies worldwide and is one of the leading family-entertainment companies and publishers of comic books and graphic novels in Europe, owning a catalogue of over 4,000 hours of content and over 4,000 IPs.

The group has so far been animating evergreen characters such as Garfield, Marsupilami, Lucky Luke and Gaston, but also serves as a licensee for brands created by other studios, such as TV Tokyo’s Naruto.

Its most traditional working practice, the two speakers argued, still follows the “publishing-animation” paradigm. Comics is a great market to start in, as it is “not so expensive and not so risky”, but the content tends to remain in one market and struggles to gain popularity. Thus, moving on to animation becomes key in order to make a certain IP more recognisable and internationally appealing. Hergé’s Tintin and Peyo’s The Smurfs are classic examples of this type of strategy.

A recent example that the speakers mentioned is Living with Dad. Described as “very modern content” and “an audacious sitcom”, the original comic book centres on a dad who lives with four daughters born of four different mothers. Despite the fact that this production follows the traditional publishing-animation strategy, they highlighted that, in comparison with the original comic book, the series tends to focus more on their relationships, it aims to gain a “new audience”, and meticulous work on its graphical aspect was carried out “to make it easier to watch”. Owing to the long production processes, the two speakers pointed out that timing is crucial and how, just two years ago, it was too early to embark on such a project.

Meanwhile, another project, titled Belfort & Lupin and created by the audiovisual department of France Télévisions, follows the opposite strategy. The original idea will spawn a TV series by Dupuis and, later, a comic book by the same artist, J Cunha.

Another new approach was adopted for Roger et ses humains. The animated series followed a new paradigm described as “web-comics-web”. Its core audience was identified as teenagers and young adults, and the creative team found its type of humour more befitting of YouTube.

Another interesting case study was that of Marsupilami. The character’s merchandising and the attraction at Parc Spirou recently enjoyed huge success. “We thought the IP was ready for a new adaptation. So we’re working on a new TV series for Gulli and a new series of comics for Dupuis,” Hannou and Papelier explained. The 52x11-minute series is currently in development, and a new video game will be released in November. The show will be set in a tropical country and within an urban environment, which will offer creatives the opportunity “to tell a new range of stories”.

Finally, Hannou and Papelier maintained that there is no perfect recipe for 360-degree development, but focusing on one strong medium to begin with is definitely a good decision. Then, an expansion into a second or third medium can eventually be planned. To achieve consistency, Papelier and Hannou recommended to use the same talents for both animation and comic books, with no licensees.

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