The French critics association ACBD has announced that Martin Panchaud’s La Couleur des choses [‘The Color of Things’] is the recipient of the ACBD 2023 Grand Critics Prize.

Telling a fantastical adventure story from a completely different visual perspective, The Color of Things debuted in Swiss-German (Die Farbe der Dinge, Edition Moderne) in 2020 and was released in French in September this year with Éditions çà et là. No English language edition seems to be available as yet but hopefully this win will help that along.

The book came out on top out of a longlist of fifteen titles released in the French language this past year. Other titles in the ACBD 2023 longlist included the French editions of Alison Bechdel‘s The Secret to Superhuman Strength, Dave McKean‘s Raptor, and Jeff Lemire‘s Mazebook.

The ACBD Grand Critics Prize will be formally awarded January 23, 2023 on the opening day of the Angoulême International Comic Art Festival. The book is also in Angoulême’s 2023 Official Selection, making it potentially eligible for the show’s own prestigious prizes.

Announcing the win, the ACBD said [translated by DeepL]:

“This book shakes up our habits of reading comics. Simple drops of color become real characters with whom readers can empathize. Isometric planes are transformed into adventure set pieces to create the framework of the story. Each reader will create his or her own image of the main characters, but all will share a unique reading experience that the ACBD members wanted to reward.”

Martin Panchaud took to Facebook to celebrate the news [translated]:

“What an honor my friends, what an honor! What an honor to receive the Grand Prix de la critique from the ACBD…This prize rewards a long term work and I warmly thank from the bottom of my heart all those who have supported this book in one way or another. And particularly Serge [Ewenczyk] of Éditions çà et là and all his team.

“And of course, many thanks to the ACBD and all its members for this award and their vote! You only have to look at the list of previous winners to realize that this is a great honor.”

The translated synopsis from the French edition of The Color of Things:

“Simon, an overweight 14-year-old English boy, is constantly teased by the youngsters in his neighborhood, and is drafted for all sorts of chores. One day, while shopping for a fortune teller, she tells him who the winners of the prestigious Royal Ascot horse race will be. Simon secretly puts all of his father’s savings on one horse and wins over 16 million pounds. But when he returns home, Simon finds his mother in a coma and the police tell him that his father has disappeared. Being a minor, Simon can’t cash in his betting ticket. To do so, and to find out what happened to his mother, he must find his father. At the end of an adventure full of adventures and surprises, Simon, the eternal loser, will become a very resourceful kid. The Color of Things by Swiss author Martin Panchaud challenges the habits of comic book readers; the book is drawn entirely in bird’s-eye view without perspective and all the characters are represented as colored circles. The Color of Things oscillates between comedy and thriller with a surprising graphic technique, mixing architecture, computer graphics and pictograms galore, which make this very graphic novel a surprising and captivating book.”

Last weekend, December 3, saw another Swiss win from the ACBD’s Kid Prize (Prix Jeunesse de la Critique ACBD 2022) with Léonie Bischoff’s adaptation of US kids author Kathleen Karr‘s 1998 story The Great Turkey Walk. The prize was formally awarded over the weekend of the Montreuil Book and Youth Press Fair (Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse de Montreuil). 

The Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée (ACBD) is an organisation comprised of comic book critics across French-language media, formed in 1984. Its membership is over a hundred-strong.

Grand Prix de la Critique ACBD 2023

WINNER: La Couleur des choses [tr. The Color of Things], by Martin Panchaud (Çà et là)
La Bibliomule de Cordoue [tr. The Bibliomule of Cordoba], by Léonard Chemineau and Wilfrid Lupano (Dargaud)
La Dernière Reine [tr. The Last Queen], by Jean-Marc Rochette (Casterman)
Le Petit Frère [tr. Little Brother], by Jean-Louis Tripp (Casterman)
Les Pizzlys [tr. The Pizzlys], by Jérémie Moreau (Delcourt)

                                            • LONGLIST – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – –

Céleste : “bien sûr monsieur Proust ” T1, by Chloé Cruchaudet (Soleil)
Hoka Hey ! by Neyef (Rue de Sèvres-Label 619)
Immonde ! by Elizabeth Holleville (Glénat)
Kiss the Sky : Jimi Hendrix 1942-1970, by Mezzo and Jean-Michel Dupont (Glénat)
Le Labyrinthe inachevé [Mazebook], by Jeff Lemire (Futuropolis)
Naphtaline, by Sole Otero (Çà et là)
Nettoyage à sec [tr. Dry Cleaning], by Joris Mertens (Rue de Sèvres)
Le Poids des héros [tr. The Weight of Heroes], by David Sala (Casterman)
Raptor, by Dave McKean (Futuropolis)
Le Secret de la force surhumaine [tr. The Secret to Superhuman Strength], by Alison Bechdel (Denoël Graphic)

ACBD Kids Prize (Prix Jeunesse de la Critique ACBD 2022)

WINNER: La longue marche des dindes [The Great Turkey Walk] by Kathleen Kerr and Léonie Bischoff (Rue de Sèvres)
Ana et L’Entremonde [tr. Ana and the Betweenworld], by Cy and Marc Dubuisson. (Glénat)
Cœurs de ferraille [tr. Hearts of scrap] by Beka and Munuera (Dupuis)
Le Silence de l’ombre [tr. The Silence of the Shadow] by Xavier Bétaucourt and Elodie Garcia (Jungle)
Seizième Printemps  [tr. Sixteenth Spring] by Yunbo (Delcourt)