Well, it looks like I picked a good year for my first ever visit to the Angoulême comics festival, because this year is already seething with intrigue.
Take the choice of the Grand Prix winner for instance. This award—presented to one and only one cartoonist each and every year—is one of the greatest honors in comics. it recognizes a lifetime of work and the winner is the “grand marshal” for the following year’s show. Previous winners include Franquin, Eisner, Crumb, Trondheim and Art Spiegelman. Although winners are somewhat international, the award has tended to recognize older Franco-Belgian cartoonists in recent years — this year’s Gran Marshal is Willem, for instance.
It seems that in the last year or two, a faction of the voters for the award have attempted to “modernize it” a bit. Last year there was a strong bloc that wanted to recognize Akira Toriyama with the award. And to be fair, Toriyama + Dragonball Z, a comics creator known and loved worldwide for his incredible creativity and skill. Willem…well, not exactly a household name.
That has led to a lot of intrigue this year. A long lost of finalists for the grand prix was announced a few weeks ago, and it was suitably broad:
Nicolas de Crécy
Jean Van Hamme
Now however, there have been reports of a protest by older voting members, and, in some kind of cosmic joke, the finalists include the two biggest recluses in comics: Bill Watterson, Katsuhiro Otomo and Alan Moore are the three finalists. The winner will be announced onFebruary 2nd, and for the sake of all that is holy, it had better by Otomo.
There’s a lot going on here that we don’t have the translation chops or knowledge to understand. (Although we’re on the “press list” for Angouleme it doesn’t seem to include any of this kind of information.) Let’s just put this under developing; any one who wants to contribute to our understanding of the situation, feel free to email us at comicsbeat at gmail.