To celebrate the importance and impact of translated comics work, Comica, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF) and VIP Brands have announced the Sophie Castille Award.

The inaugural Sophie Castille Award will be for best translation of works into the English language, with room for the awards to potentially widen in scope with international partners in future. Publisher submissions – covering calendar year 2022 – for the award are now open with a deadline set for June 1, 2023, and the winner to be declared at this year’s LICAF, scheduled to take place the weekend of September 29 to October 1.

The press release says:

“VIP Brands Ltd. is delighted to announce the Sophie Castille Awards for Comics in Translation. The inaugural award will be presented in partnership with Comica and the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, at their annual event this autumn (Friday 29th September – Sunday 1st October).

“The Sophie Castille Awards for Comics in Translation are for the best translation of graphic novels into a variety of languages around the world. This inaugural award will be for the best translation of a non-English graphic novel into English.”

English language publishers can submit up to six works for consideration, crediting the translator for each. The works must have been released in the past calendar year and are restricted to one work per series. Submissions are to be made to LICAF via a form. The submission deadline is June 1, 2023 and a shortlist of competing works will be made by July.

The awards are named after the late Sophie Castille, international rights director and VP of licensing at major rights hub Mediatoon, and cofounder and director of Europe Comics, who passed away suddenly in 2022, age 52. Her support of the global comics industry has proved invaluable – in creating connections and helping the English-reading world discover new classic works of European comics and likewise helping Europe to discover new graphic novels from the UK, US, Canada and beyond.

As the press release says:

“Since the late 1990s, Sophie built bridges for bandes dessinées and their authors, out of France and around the world. She was a constant source of creativity, motivating publishers from throughout the world and encouraging them to exchange ideas and, as a result, became a key figure in the growth of translation of comics and graphic novels around the world.”


“With comics in translation becoming an important influence in the publishing world, VIP Brands Ltd, Comica and LICAF have decided to honour Sophie’s memory and continue her work to promote comics in translation around the world with these new Awards.”

Founder and General Manager of VIP Brands Ltd Ivanka Hahnenberger mentions the genesis of the awards have been a long time coming:

“I have talked of this idea for years, having global awards for comics in translation to encourage acquisition and translation of graphic novels. I spoke to Sophie about it several times and she encouraged me to do it. I wish very much she were here to see this happen, as if it were not for her, I would never have had the courage to go through with it. Sophie, here’s to you.”

The award of translated works into the English language has its three-person jury already picked out – Columbia University’s Comics Curator and Librarian Karen Green, artist Charlie Adlard (a long time proponent of translated works), and former TV producer and LICAF chair Peter Kessler.

Comics creator Charlie Adlard says:

“This is a brilliant initiative.There are so many strips first published in a foreign language that wouldn’t have been a success in the United States or Britain without standout translation work.”

LICAF director Julie Tait continues:

“Take Asterix, for example, When some Asterix stories, including the first story, were originally published in comics like Valiant and Ranger in Britain in the 1960s, the translation had none of the sparkle that Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge gave the series later, and made the English editions such a success. Good translation deserves wider recognition.”

Sophie Castille’s partner Dirk Rehm said:

“Awards for excellence in comic translation are more than overdue. And it is only logical that these awards are named after Sophie Castille who loved comics – and even more, the idea of the exchange of cultures. In her role as Director of International Rights for Dargaud, Dupuis and Lombard, she was an ambassador for comics – making sure the whole world would get to know the treasures of the French and Belgian bandes dessinées”.