Riad Sattouf © 2023 courtesy of FIBD

By Alistair Dabbs

The 50th edition of the Angoulême Festival International de Bande-Desinée (FIBD) got the party started last night by choosing one of France’s own, Raid Sattouf, as winner of its top accolade for 2023.

As usual, the Grand Prix was awarded during the event’s opening ceremony, held the evening before the four-day festival opens to the general public. Up to 200,000 comic fans are expected to descend – and ascend – upon the hilly festival town 75 miles north-east of Bordeaux’s wine region between 26 and 29 January.


“To come after Druillet, Moebius, Bilal was too abstract and inconceivable” Riad Sattouf declared in an email dashed off to French newspaper Le Monde after the result was announced last night.

Yet the 44-year-old author-artist and film-maker was hardly an outsider for this year’s Grand Prix, nor a stranger to the Angoulême awards podium. Exactly 20 years ago he won the festival’s René Goscinny Award for young authors, and Volume 3 of his satirical series Pascal Brutal was chosen as Best Album in 2010. In 2015, he won the ‘Fauve d’or’ for Best Album again, for his first volume of The Arab of the Future (published in the US by Pantheon.)

He was even caught up in the awards controversy during the notorious Angoulême festival in 2016, having been included in an exclusively male shortlist. Sattouf publicly insisted that he removed from that year’s list to allow nominations for women comics creators. The artistic direction of FIBD changed dramatically in the years that followed.

Sattouf’s most successful series, The Arab of the Future, has sold more than 3 million copies and has been translated into more than 20 languages. It is largely autobiographical, while also an unlikely comedy, recounting what it was like to grow up with a somewhat boorish Syrian father and 100% French mother, and being shuttled between countries and cultures.

Volume 6 of the series was France’s best-selling comics title of 2022 and is up for FIBD’s Best Album award yet again this year. The winners of all the awards categories – Les fauves (‘the wild ones’)– will be announced on Saturday night.

Volumes 1 to 4 of The Arab of the Future and the first volume of his popular series for girls, Esther’s Notebooks – the first volume just came out in the US –  are available in English.


As well as his early work published in French satirical magazines such as Fluide Glacial and Charlie Hebdo, Sattouf is also known in his native France for his modest side-career as a movie writer and director. In 2004, he began drawing a cartoon series for Charlie called The Secret Life of Youth in which he depicted conversations overheard while on public transport in Paris. Some of these were adapted into a 2009 movie called Les Beaux Gosses (English title: The French Kissers), which won him a César Award the following year for Best New Director.

In claiming the Grand Prix at Angoulême, Sattouf succeeds 2022’s winner, Quebec’s Julie Doucet, and means he will be honoured with a major exhibition at next year’s event.

copyright © 2023 Alistair Dabbs