Adding to a pile of kudos that you will soon be able to make an actual building from, Chris Ware’s great Building Stories has won the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year for 2013. Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré (Fantagraphics) and The Understanding Monster—Book One by Theo Ellsworth (Secret Acres) were the honorable mentions.
The Prize is presented each year by Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book to “the best graphic novel, fiction or non-fiction, published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident.”
“Ware’s astute and precise renderings, composed with a tender yet unblinking clinical eye and fleshed out with pristine and evocative coloring, trace the mundane routines and moments of small crisis that his characters inhabit. In so doing, he produces not a document but a monument, a work whose narrative logic is architectural rather than chronological: a set of lives to be encountered, traversed, and returned to as the rooms and floors of a building might be over the years, still sequentially but not in a limited or decided-upon sequence. Stories, here, are meant not to be told but to be built, explored, inhabited—not merely visited but lived in,” observes the award jury.
The jury also awarded two honor books: “Heads or Tails,” by Lilli Carré and published by Fantagraphics Books, and “The Understanding Monster—Book One,” by Theo Ellsworth and published by Secret Acres. Of “Heads or Tails” a juror says, “Each story is exquisitely crafted, demonstrating both a compelling literary style and a rich, engaging design sense that can seem deceptively naïve or childlike on first glance but in context reveals striking sophistication and complexity.” “The Understanding Monster” says a juror, “is an endlessly captivating and rewarding piece of visual and narrative art.”
The selection jury had representatives from various Penn State academic departments who use the graphic novel in their teaching or research, as well as representatives with graphic novel expertise from among Penn State’s alumni and students.
The selection jury for the 2013 prize included Chair Adam Haley, Ph.D., lecturer in English, College of the Liberal Arts; Sadie Buckallew, senior majoring in Communication Arts and Sciences, College of the Liberal Arts; Amanda Clossen, learning design librarian, Library Learning Services, University Libraries; Michael Jay Green, M.D., M.S., professor of humanities and medicine, College of Medicine; and J. Jeff Ungar, rare books cataloger, Cataloging and Metadata Services, University Libraries.
In addition to a cash prize of $2500, Ware will receive a set of Ward’s graphic novels and a “suitable” commemorative.
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.