Antonio Altarriba and Sergio García Sánchez’ graphic novel Le ciel dans la tête [tr. ‘The Sky’s The Limit’] was announced the winner of the Association of French-language Comics Critics (ACBD) Grand Critics Prize 2024 this week. The book – translated from Spanish by Alexandra Carrasco and published by Denoël Graphic, prevailed against stiff competition – including the French-translation of Kate Beaton’s Ducks(!) – to land the top prize. The authors and publisher will receive the award at a formal ceremony at the Angoulême Comics Museum on January 25, 2024.


The Sky’s The Limit covers territory plucked from today’s news, looking at the life and dangers faced by a young migrant who braves the dangerous Mediterranean sea route hoping for a better life in Europe.

The DeepL-translated publisher synopsis for the book: 

“From the mines of Kivu to the wonders of Europe, Nivek, the child soldier plucked from the clutches of poverty by the call of a better life, crosses a magical and tragic Africa of breathtaking violence and beauty. The trials of this voyage of initiation prepare him for the perils of the Mediterranean, but not for the disappointments that await him on its privileged shore. In the shadow of Cervantes and Mark Twain, an epic tale carried by Altarriba’s hallucinatory visions and Sergio García’s sumptuous images.”

Spaniards Altarriba and Sánchez are award winners in France and Spain. Altarriba is a previous recipient of the ACBD Grand Critics Prize, having received it in 2015 for Moi, Assassin [tr. ‘I, Assassin’] with artist Keko, also published by Denoël Graphic. His only work to have been translated into English, however, is his 2009 graphic novel El Arte de Volar (The Art of Flying) which was published in English by Jonathan Cape with a translation by Adrian Nathan West in 2015. Sánchez is an internationally award winning illustrator and cartoonist who is perhaps better-known in the US for his New Yorker cover work and the Nadja Spiegelman-written Lost in NYC (Toon Books, 2015). 

The ACBD verdict on the book [translated by DeepL]:

“Already an award-winner for Moi, assassin (Grand Prix 2015), Spanish screenwriter Antonio Altarriba once again paints an uncompromising portrait of humanity’s dark soul. The chaos of our world is both tempered and exaggerated by Sergio Garcia Sanchez’s ingenious plasticity of drawing, which plays with perspective and proportion in a particularly inventive setting.”

The finalists for the award contained some familiar names. We already mentioned Kate Beaton’s Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (which was published in French earlier this year) but the shortlist also contained the newest work from Jordi Lafebre, Matthias Lehman, and Guillaume Singelin – who all have work recently translated to English – Always Never (Dark Horse, 2022), Parallel (Oni, 2023) and PTSD (First Second, 2019). Of the finalists, Singelin’s Frontier was recently crowdfunded for release by Magnetic Press and Lafebre’s I Am Their Silence (Je suis leur silence) will receive a digital English language release from Europe Comics in the new year.

The Association des Critiques et Journalistes de Bande Dessinée (or Association of Comics Critics and Journalists) – ACBD – is a French-language collective of those who cover comics in the media (print, online, TV, radio etc). Formed in 1984, it has over a hundred members worldwide, predominantly from France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada. Annually it hands out five awards celebrating the medium – including their kids market award (Prix Jeunesse), work from French-Canada (Prix Québécoise), translated work from the English-language (Prix Comics), translated work from across Asia (Prix Asie). Its highest honour is the Grand Prix de la Critique (Grand Critics Prize) which is as old as the organisation itself. Awards are decided by ballot of all members with multiple rounds of voting to decide shortlist, finalist and winning books. The winner of the Grand Critics Prize in 2023 was Swiss graphic novel La Couleur des choses [tr. ‘The Color of Things’] by Martin Panchaud (çà et là). It went on to win the top prize at the 2023 Angoulême Festival – a major award in French (and international) comics.

ACBD GRAND PRIX DE LA CRITIQUE 2023 [Grand Critics Prize 2023]
– Finalists & Winner –

  • WINNER: Le ciel dans la tête [tr. ‘The Sky’s The Limit’], by writer Antonio Altarriba, artist Sergio Garcia Sanchez, colourist Lola Moral, Spanish-French translation by Alexandra Carrasco (Denoël Graphic)
  • Chumbo, by Matthias Lehmann (Casterman)
  • Environnement toxique [tr. ‘Toxic Environment’, original English title: Ducks: Two Years on the Oil Sands], by Kate Beaton, French-translation by Alice Marchand (Casterman)
  • Frontier, Guillaume Singelin (Rue de Sèvres, Label 619) — English edition recently concluded crowdfunding campaign, wide release expected 2024 from Magnetic Press
  • Je suis leur silence [‘I Am Their Silence’], by Jordi Lafebre (Dargaud) — digital-exclusive initial English release via Europe Comics planned early 2024