The Official Prizes of the 41st Festival International de la Bande Desinée were handed out in Sunday at 4pm. The big news was Bill Watterson winning the Grand Prix, but afterwards people were talking about how the “International” part of the festival title had truly been reflected, with three winners from the US, one from Israel, one from Holland along with the usual French contingent.
Universal’s Lee Salem was called after the Watterson win was announced and he accepted the prize with the usual language on Watterson’s behalf, adding that he’s been to Angoulême and had a great time. He said Watterson was travelling and he hadn’t been able to reach him to tell him of the win. The presenter asked point plank if Watterson would attend in 2015, and Salem acknowledged that Watterson generally avoids public appearances, but “I’m going to try to talk him into it.” Okay then!
[French presenter talks to Lee Salem.]
The awards themselves included a somewhat mime-like clown opening and : sauntering on stage to deliver envelopes with the names of the winners; the stage gradually being covered with large colorful cartoonish standees; plentiful use of a smoke machine; a Franco-samba version of The Beatles “Baby Driver” and music stings consisting of blasts of abstract jazz guitar. Willem (who is quite the character and—unlike, Watterson, one imagines— a constant presence at the bars and streets of Angoulême) came on stage to present the Best Album prize and a giant cutout of one of his drawings was lowered from the ceiling.
There was also an In Memorium section that listed many French cartoonists who has passed away in the last year, including Cavenna who died just as the festival opened. The list included Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson, who was lauded for his work in bringing cartoonists like Tardi to the English language. It was very touching to see him mentioned among so many creators he read and enjoyed.
The whole thing was very French, very comics and very different from US comics awards.
Grand Prix: Bill Watterson
Prix du public Cultura (Public Prize): Mauvais Genre, Chloé Cruchaudet (Delcourt)
Prix de la bande dessinée alternative (Alternative prize): Un Fanzine carré (Various)
Prix jeunesse (prize for young readers): Les Carnets de Cerise — Le Livre d’Hector Joris Chamblain and Aurélie Neyret (Soleil)
Prix Révélation (New book): Le Livre De Léviathan, P. Blegvad (L’Apocalypse) and Mon Ami Dahmer, Derf Backderf (Ca et La)
Prix de Polar (Best Thriller): Ma Reverence, Wilfred Lupano and Rodguen (Delcourt)
Prix meilleur album (Best Album): Come Prima, Alfred (Delcourt)
Prix Special Du Jury (Jury Prize): La Propriété, Rutu Modan (Actes Sud BD)
Prix de la série (Best series): Fuzz & Pluck Vol. 2, Ted Stearn (Cornelius)
Prix du patrimoine (Best reprint): Cowboy Henk by Herr Seele and Kamagurka (Fremok)
PS: The news of all the winners—Watterson included—had already leaked hours before the ceremony and Le Monde actually annoucned them as the ceremony began — which was a little bit of a bummer, but didgive me the chance to be interviewed on French public radio on Watterson’s place in US culture.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.