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The Angoulême International Comics Festival ended today, and while the winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême, Katsuhiro Otomo, was announced on Thursday, the closing ceremony brought the announcements of the official prizes of the festival.
The prize for the best comic of the year (Fauve d’or/Prix du meilleur album) went to Riad Sattouf’s L’Arabe du Futur, the first volume of an autobiographical trilogy about his childhood, which was spent in France and Syria. Chris Ware’s Building Stories was recognized with a special jury prize, which is not given every year, only when the jury wants to draw attention to a work of special merit. The best series prize went to Last Man, which First Second will be releasing beginning in March. And there was a special Freedom of Expression prize, Prix De La Liberté D’Expression, which honored the five Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who were slain on January 7; this prize will be awarded in future years to creators who have advocated for freedom of speech.
Here’s the complete list:
Creators | “This is really a government of the cartoon, for the cartoon and by the cartoon,” Malaysian cartoonist Zunar said in an interview following the police raid on his Kuala Lumpur office. Zunar was in London at the time of the raid but expects to be summoned to the police station on his return to face charges under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code. “Why are the police involved in this?” he said. “If it is true I have defamed certain people, why not filed a civil suit? The government condemned Charlie Hebdo’s attacker but now they are ‘attacking’ me.” He also sent out some photos of the raid. [Malaysian Digest]
Freedom of Speech | Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia, called the raid Zunar’s office “shocking and outrageous” and demanded the government to return the confiscated books and drop all charges against him. [The Malaysian Insider]
Legal | A 16-year-old in Nantes, France, was arrested last week for posting a cartoon on Facebook that mocks the Charlie Hebdo killings; the charge is “advocating terrorism.” The cartoon shows someone holding a copy of Charlie Hebdo and being struck by bullets. Electronic Intifada posts what is most likely the offending cartoon (it had been shared widely on social media), a takeoff on one of the more notorious Charlie Hebdo covers, accompanied by the text, “Charlie Hebdo is shit. It doesn’t stop bullets.” The original cover featured a cartoon of an Egyptian protestor holding the Koran, with text that read, “The Quran is shit, it doesn’t stop bullets.” [France 3]
Publishing | Sales were down in 2014 for Diamond Book Distributors, even though the industry overall had an up year. The reason: DBD lost a key client, Dark Horse, to Random House. Nonetheless, Vice President Kuo-Yu Liang sees good things in store for 2015, including strong sales of indie graphic novels, expanding international sales, and the much-anticipated March: Book Two, which was released this week. [Publishers Weekly]
Controversy | More than 80 creators and other industry figures, including Jaime Hernandez, Kate Beaton, Alison Bechdel, Warren Ellis, Eleanor Davis, Jeet Heer and David Brothers, have signed an open letter asking Franck Bondoux, head of the Angoulême International Comics Festival, to cut the event’s ties to Israeli soft drink company SodaStream, which has its main plant in an occupied area of the West Bank. A similar action was taken last year regarding the company’s sponsorship of the festival. [Comics & Cola]
Passings | Dutch underground comics artist Peter Pontiac died Tuesday at age 63. Born Peter J. G. Pollmann, Pontiac came of age in the 1960s and started out drawing covers for bootleg songbooks, then moved on to create comics inspired by his own life and experiences, including The Amsterdam Connection, Requiem Fortissimo and the illustrated novel Kraut. His comics appeared in the Dutch underground comics magazines Modern Papier and Tante Leny Presenteert, as well as in the American Anarchy Comix and Mondo Snarfo. He later collected many of his comics in the seven issues of The Pontiac Review. He received the Stripschapprijs, a Dutch lifetime achievement award for comics creators, in 1997 and the Marten Toonder Prize in 2011. Pontiac suffered from liver disease and ran a crowdfunding campaign to finance a book about death and his disease, but he passed away before it could be completed. [Lambiek Comiclopedia]
Conventions | With the long-planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center stalled indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times offers an overview of efforts to keep Comic-Con International in the city past 2016, and what suitors like Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, have to offer. “The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. “It’s not an easy decision.” However, the San Diego Tourism Authority remains confident that convention organizers will sign a deal — possibly with a month — to remain in the city through 2018, based on an agreement for nearby hotels to offer their meeting space for Comic-Con programming. (The Tourism Authority has already asked hotels in the Comic-Con room block to freeze their rates at 2015 levels for the next two years.) [Los Angeles Times]
The GLAAD Media Awards are traditionally a fairly mainstream affair, with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation recognizing outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in works that reach a wide audience. Although in the past, the organization has honored the likes of Fun Home, Luba and Strangers in Paradise, the outstanding comic book category is typically heavy on superhero titles released by Marvel and DC Comics.
However, with the announcement this morning of the nominees for the 26th annual GLAAD Media Awards comes a couple of big surprises: Just one superhero series is singled out, and, for the first time since the comic book category debuted in 2003, there are no titles published by DC or its imprints.
Passings | Acclaimed sci-fi novelist and manga writer Kazumasa Hirai passed away Jan. 17 at age 76. Hirai was the co-creator of several manga that spawned anime, prose and television franchises, including Genma Taisen and the classic cyborg superhero story 8 Man. He also collaborated with Ryoichi Ikegami on the Spider-Man manga, serialized from 1970 to 1971 in Monthly Shonen Jump, succeeding Kōsei Ono as writer. [Anime News Network]
Legal | The Bombay High Court heard arguments Monday on a public interest litigation petition challenging India’s sedition act. The petition stems from the 2012 arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on sedition charges, which were dropped after national and international protests. “It [sedition charge] can be misused any time,” said Chief Justice Mohit Shah. But Advocate-General Sunil Manohar, arguing for the state, said they only acted on the Trivedi case after receiving a dozen complaints: “The cartoonist [Aseem Trivedi] ran perilously close to borderline. He is not absolutely innocent. It is not the case that the state vindictively slapped charges on him.” The court did not immediately hand down a decision but has reserved judgment. [The Hindu]
Crime | Sigolène Vinson, a writer for Charlie Hebdo, gives her account of the Jan. 7 shootings that killed 12 at the French satire magazine’s headquarters. Vinson was in the kitchen and heard brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi shoot her coworkers; she hid in a colleague’s office but came face to face with Saïd Kouachi, who told her “Don’t be afraid, calm down. I won’t kill you. You’re a woman, we don’t kill women. But think about what you do, what you do is bad. I’m sparing you and because I’ve spared you, you will read the Qur’an.” (However, Chérif killed writer Elsa Cayat, the only female victim of the attack.) [The Guardian]
Awards | This year’s grand prix de la ville d’Angoulême, the lifetime achievement award given every year at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, won’t be given to the staff of Charlie Hebdo, despite a petition started by jury president Gwen de Bonneval that garnered 1,200 signatures plus significant support on Twitter and Facebook. Two Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, Wolinski, who was killed in the Jan. 7 attack, and Willem, who wasn’t in the office that day, have been awarded the grand prix in previous years. The festival has announced a special Charlie Hebdo award that will go to a cartoonist whose work embodies resistance to oppression and censorship, and organizers will also publish a special album of cartoons drawn in response to the attacks. [France Inter]
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
The shortlist has been announced for the 2015 Stan Lee Excelsior Award and the new Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior, whose winners are selected by students at secondary and primary schools, respectively, across the United Kingdom.
Established in 2011 by Paul Register, a school librarian in Sheffield, the Stan Lee Excelsior Award is designed to promote comics and to encourage children and teenagers to read. The Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior is being introduced this year.
The winners — first, second and third place — will be announced in July. The nominees are:
Stan Lee Excelsior Award
Publishing | Keiko Yoshioka explains how Japanese publisher Kodansha is getting into the Chinese market, not by selling Japanese products but by publishing a magazine in China that’s geared toward Chinese audiences — and using Chinese creators as well. The article puts a special focus on the two-woman team known as Navar, whose suspense series Carrier: Xiedaizhe now runs in Japan as well. [The Asahi Shimbun]
Academia | Northwestern University Prof. Irving Rein discusses why superheroes have secret identities, ticking off several superhero comics tropes and then going a bit deeper: “The usual script of a superhero episode revolves around a threat occurring in which the superhero is the victim of the decision making of the criminals. The hidden identity is a standard form of the superhero narrative and it allows the creators to use the formula and still deviate from the script. Throughout the comic book or movie there are a series of fundamental questions. Will the superhero be identified? When and under what circumstances will the superhero become a superhero? How will the superhero get back into his civilian identity without being identified?” [Daily Herald]
Graphic novels | The long-running Belgian comic Blake and Mortimer, created by Herge contemporary Edgar P. Jacobs and currently the work of Yves Sente and Andre Juillard, will get a prequel. The series launched in Tintin magazine in 1946, and when they re-read the first episode, Sente and Juillard found themselves asking a lot of questions — so they answered them in their latest volume, The Staff of Plutarch. [Agence France-Presse]
Creators | Kelly Sue DeConnick discusses her new Image Comics series Bitch Planet. [Paste]
Creators | HOW magazine interviews artist Kody Chamberlain (Punks, Sweets). [HOW]
The winners of the third annual British Comic Awards were announced Saturday at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds, England. Two of the four awards went to titles published by Image Comics; all four of the winning works are readily available in the United States. Here are the winners:
Best Comic: The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
Best Book: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)
Young People’s Comic Award: Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
Emerging Talent: Alison Sampson for her artwork on Genesis (Image Comics) and “Shadows” from the In The Dark anthology (IDW Publishing)
Hall of Fame: Posy Simmonds
Two years ago, when the first awards were announced, there was some discussion about the gender balance of both the committee that chose the books and the nominations themselves. Last year’s awards all went to men. This year, there were more women on the committee and more women on the shortlist, and the awards were split, with Simmonds giving the women the edge.
Creators | A U.K. researcher argues that Marie Duval was the real creative force behind the wildly popular 19th-century British comic Ally Sloper, which is largely credited to her husband Charles Ross. Duval, the pen name of French cartoonist Emilie de Tessier, drew the character at the height of his popularity in the 1860s and ’70s, but historian David Kunzle now questions what role Ross actually played in his creation. [The Guardian]
Commentary | Chase Magnett pushes back on Chris Suellentrop’s statement, made in a column about GamerGate, that comics are “a medium that has never outgrown its reputation for power fantasies and is only very occasionally marked by transcendent work (Maus, or the books of Chris Ware) that demands that the rest of the culture pay attention to it.” [Comicbook.com]
Awards | Alexis Deacon has won the 2014 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize for “The River,” “a luscious, tangled, whispering kind of story” that earned him £1,000 (about $1,611 U.S.). The runners-up were Fionnuala Doran’s “Countess Markievicz” and Beth Dawson’s “After Life.” The short-story competition has been held annually since 2007 by London’s Comica Festival, publisher Jonathan Cape and The Observer newspaper. [The Observer]
Publishing | Mark Peters spotlights Archie Comics’ recent transformation from staid to startling, with titles like Afterlife With Archie and the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. [Salon]