America made some surprise gains at the 51st Angoulême Festival Fauve awards with three awards, including the French edition of Daniel ClowesMonica picking up the coveted Fauve D’Or for Best Book. Two additional wins for US-produced work included the Heritage Award for the rediscovered Japanese-American 1931 Four Immigrants Manga by Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama; and James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez Bueno, and Jordie Bellaire’s The Nice House on the Lake picking up the Series Prize. Meanwhile legendary Shojo Mangaka Moto Hagio received an Honorary Fauve.

Daniel Clowes this year had been in the running to score the festival’s highest honour, the Grand Prix, alongside France’s Catherine Meurisse and Britain’s Posy Simmonds. The award ultimately went to Simmonds (marking the first time the UK had achieved such a feat) but the Fauve D’Or for Best Book is a huge deal in the French world of bande dessinée – often giving a huge boost in sales to the awardee. His first new work in seven years, released in the US with Fantagraphics, the French edition of Monica was published by major French publishing house Delcourt as part of its special ‘Daniel Clowes Library‘ (La Bibliothèque de Daniel Clowes) series. On the night, Clowes was unable to accept the award in person after contracting covid during his book tour in Paris, it was accepted by his French publisher Guy Delcourt

That didn’t stop editor Eric Reynolds from celebrating with a man whose face few have seen. 

Special festival guest Moto Hagio received a Fauve d’Honneur (Honorary Fauve Award). The 74-year-old legendary mangaka was part of the new wave of female-identifying creators who revolutionised the then-male dominated Shojo (young girls) manga space in the 1970s – utilising multiple genres and experimenting with visual styles. Among her work is The Poe Clan, The Heart of Thomas (regarded by many as the beginning of the Yaoi (boys love) genre, and Otherworld Barbara. The Festival has opened a special retrospective exhibition of her work at the Angoulême Museum running until March 17, 2024.

According to Angoulême Festival:

“The Fauve d’Honneur was awarded to Moto Hagio, a multi-award-winning author whose long career has been marked by diversity – in themes and genres – and an absolute thirst for freedom.”

The Series Prize going to The Nice House on the Lake vol. 2 by James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez Bueno, and Jordie Bellaire is a potentially more impressive surprise than Clowes’ win, if you know a little about the French market. The Series Prize rewards work of more than one volume deserving of significant critical acclaim. The series was published under DC Comics’ Black Label imprint and published in France by Urban Comics. While The Nice House on the Lake received much buzz in the US and France, the French market’s taste for the American variety of the form puts it in the ultra-niche category – in 2023 only around 3% of overall bande dessinée sales were under the ‘Comic’ category, 53% came from ‘Manga’, and the remaining 44% being the booming local Franco-Belgian BD industry. Put in that context, a win for any US format series at Angoulême is a huge deal. And for publisher DC Comics, it could be their first award-winning book at Angoulême since Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s Vertigo-published V for Vendetta in 1990.

The Heritage Prize went to Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama’s Four Immigrants Manga, published in France, by Onapratut/Le Portillon, as Quatre Japonais À San Francisco 1904-1924 [‘Four Japanese in San Francisco‘]. An early example of autobiographical comics, it had been produced by Kiyama around 1924 to 1927 in which he recounted the experiences of himself and three other new immigrants to the US. It was self-published by Kiyama in 1931 and was later rediscovered. Originally produced in a combination of Japanese and English, it was translated by Frederik L. Schodt and published by Stone Bridge Press in 1998; with a Japan edition from Shimpu in 2012. The French edition was released in July 2023.

There was a distinctly international flavour once again this year, with numerous works – often first-published in France – picking up awards. French authors led the pack with four pickups including the Special Jury Prize going to South Korean-born Sophie Darcq‘s Hanbok (published by L’Apocalypse), her graphic memoir about seeking her birth family later in life after having been adopted and raised in France.

Spain managed two awards with Beatriz Lema’s embroidered, Sarbacane-published graphic novel Des Maux À Dire [‘Words to Say’] picking up the public vote in the French TV Audience prize. The Polar SNCF (crime thriller) Award went to Carlos Portela and Keko‘s graphic novel Contrition, which is a Florida-set murder mystery in a ghetto of convicted sex-offenders. Published in Spain by Norma Editorial, the French edition was published a month earlier by Denoël Graphic.

The Kids Prize went to L’incroyable Mademoiselle Bang [‘The Incredible Miss Bang’], by South Korea’s Yoon-Sun Park (Dupuis) and one of the two Jury Prizes in the kids category went to Japan’s Shin’ya Komatsu with Bâillements de l’après-midi [‘Yawning in the afternoon‘] published by IMHO. The Alternative Award, which is a salute to the small and indie press from around the world this year went to the biannual Netherlands anthology Aline.

The Angoulême Awards in Full:

Fauve D’Or for Best Book: Monica, by Daniel Clowes (Delcourt)

— Original English language edition published by Fantagraphics 

© Éditions Delcourt, 2023 — Clowes

Special Jury Prize: Hanbok, by Sophie Darcq (L’Apocalypse)

© Sophie Darcq / L’Apocalypse

Heritage Prize (Prix du Patrimoine): Quatre Japonais À San Francisco 1904-1924 [tr. ‘Four Japanese in San Francisco, 1904-1924‘], Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama (Onapratut/Le Portillon)

— Note: Published in English as Four Immigrants Manga (Stone Bridge Press)

© Onapratut / Le Portillon

Prix Révélation: L’Homme Gêné [tr, ‘The Awkward Man‘], Matthieu Chiara (L’Agrume)

©2023, Éditions l’Agrume, Sejer

Series Prize (Prix de la Série): The Nice House on the Lake (vol 2), James Tynion IV (writer), Alvaro Martinez Bueno (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist) (Urban Comics)

© James Tynion IV & Alvaro Martínez Bueno. All rights reserved. © 2023 URBAN COMICS pour la version française.

Crime Thriller Prize (Fauve Polar SNCF): Contrition, by Carlos Portela (writer) & Keko (artist) (Denoël Graphic)

© Carlos Portela, Keko, Denoël

Eco Prize (Prix Éco-Fauve): Frontier, by Guillaume Singelin (Label 619)

— Note: English translation coming soon from Magnetic Press

© Label 619 / Rue de Sèvres, Paris, 2023

Kids Prize (Prix Jeunesse): L’incroyable Mademoiselle Bang [tr. ‘The Incredible Miss Bang’], by Yoon-Sun Park (Dupuis)

© Yoon-Sun Park/Éditions Dupuis

Special Jury Kids Prize (Prix Spécial Jury Jeunesse):

  • Les Petites Reines [tr. ‘The Little Queens’], by Magali Le Huche (Sarbacane)

    © Magali Le Huche/Sarbacane

  • Bâillements de l’après-midi [tr. ‘Yawning in the afternoon‘] (vol 1), Shin’ya Komatsu (IMHO)

    © by KOMATSU Shinya / Akishobo

High Schoolers’ Choice Award (Fauve de Lycéens) : Le Visage de Pavil [tr. ‘The Face of Pavil‘], by Jeremy Perrodeau (2024)

© Jeremy Perrodeau & 2024

French TV Audience Prize (Prix du Public France Télévisions): Des Maux À Dire [tr. ‘Words to Say‘], by Beatriz Lema (Sarbacane)

© Beatriz Lema © Sarbacane, 2023

Alternative Comics Prize (Prix de la Bande Dessinée Alternative): Aline, a biannual Dutch anthology by a collective that includes Typex, Wasco, Jeroen Funke, Anne Stalinski, Charlotte Dumortier, Helène Lespagnard, Octavia Roodt, Juliane Noll, Ludwig Volbeda, Wide Verjnokke, Frederik van der Stock