The Toronto Comic Arts Festival will take place on the weekend of Saturday 10th May, and one of the main attractions this year is the attendance of French comics superstar, Christophe Blain. Blain will be there to mark the Canadian and American debut of Weapons of Mass Diplomacy, the English language edition of his book Quai d'Orsay, and will be accompanied by his collaborator on the tome, Abel Lanzac. Lanzac is the pen name of Antonin Baudry, current French diplomat and ex- speechwriter and adviser to French prime minister Dominique de Villepin, having worked for the French Ministry of Foreign affairs on issues of culture and international economy between 2002-04. Weapons of Mass Diplomacy is a semi-fictionalized account of his experiences during that period, as the world's governments debate the growing prospect of Iraq's nuclear weapon program, and a subsequent course of action.
In their original French iteration, the books were published in two volumes, but publisher SelfMadeHero has collected them in one hefty 200 page hardback, published this month. The House of Cards-like story follows a nervous protagonist, Arthur Vlamnick, as he is plunged into the world of politics, pettiness, back-stabbing, to-the-wire decisions, late night diplomatic emergencies, and international jet-setting. It’s all conducted under the changeable, eccentric gaze of Heraclitus-quoting French prime minister, Alexander Taillard, an imposing, charismatic figure of a man, whose whims have the whole office on the run, managed wearily by a long-suffering chief of staff. Add in Blain's signature, highly expressive, motion-stylistic illustrations, and you have on your hands one of the most anticipated releases of the year.