Graphic novels have a lot more prizes than they once did, including literary awards that help validate the medium. Awards season is well upon us, and I’ve been way behind in noting some of the most important.

§ This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki continued to barnstorm all the honors by winning the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, perhaps th emost prestigious stand-alone comics prize in the US. The jury cited the book thusly

“This One Summer,” says the jury, “is a beautifully drawn, keenly observed story. It is told with a fluid line and a sensitive eye to the emblematic moments that convey character, time, and place—the surf at night, the sound of flip-flops, a guarded sigh—all at the meandering pace of a summer’s vacation. The Tamakis astutely orchestrate the formal complexities of the graphic novel in the service of an evocative, immersive story. At first blush a coming of age story centered on two young girls, the book belongs equally to all its cast of characters, any of whom feel realized enough to have supported a narrative in their own right. Striking, relatable, and poignant, this graphic novel lingers with readers long after their eyes have left the pages.”

Richard McGuire’s Here was named an Honoree:

Of “Here” the jury says, “Making literal the idiom ‘if these walls could talk…’ McGuire’s ‘Here’ curates the long history of events transpiring in one location. Through the subtle transposition of objects and individuals in a room, the book teaches us that space is defined over time. … Evoking our longing for place, the book performs this cumulative effect for the reader, by layering people, experiences, and events in the context of a single environment.”

The Prize is presented by Penn State and is named after the author of what are now accepted to be early example of standalone graphic novels. (Ward donated his papers to the university.) This year’s jury consisted of Joel D. Priddy, Veronica Hicks, Brandon Hyde, Brent Book and Jonathan E. Abel. MOre information on the prize, the jury and past winners can be found here.


§ The Cartoonist Studio Prize, presented by Slate Magazine and the Center for Cartoon Studies, was also presented a while back. And the graphic novel winners Here by Richard McCguire. (Do you sense a pattern here?) The webcomic prize was won by Winston Rowntree for Watching. The prize comes with a $1000 cash award for each. This year’s jury consisted of Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois; CCS fellow Sophie Yanow; and guest judge, cartoonist Paul Karasik. You can see all the runners up in the above link.

(This result has been sitting in my links for a month; apologies and congratulations to the winners.)


§ While This One Summer and Here have scooped up a bunch of prizes, you must be wondering about the third most honored graphic novel of 2014, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant. Well, Chast won the Heinz Award, which is present to six “exceptional Americans, for their creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” Along with glory, the prize includes $250,000 in cash.

” ‘Floored’ does not begin to describe it,” Chast says of her reaction. “I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it yet.”



§ As you may have heard, the PEN American Center, a literary organization that promotes free speech, presented French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award, and all hell broke loose. Many prominent authors protested the award on the grounds that Charlie Hebdo is offensive. You can read many of those comments here. Other authors, including Neil Gaiman, Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel and Salmon Rushdie filled the tables at the awards gala vacated by the protesters, and defended Charlie Hebdo as an equal opportunity satirist. You can read all about that here.

While no one in the kerfuffle seems to think that being offensive deserves death, the dissenters felt that giving Charlie Hebdo an award intensified “the anti-Islamic,
anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

The pro-Charlie group felt that, as Gaiman put it, “The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are getting an award for courage. They continued putting out their magazine after the offices were firebombed [in 2011], and the survivors have continued following the murders.”

There aren’t any easy answers here. Terrorists acts are committed to create terror and confusion and turn ordinary people on both sides into radicals. In this goal, at least, the Hebdo attacks were a rousing success.

In the above photo Charlie Hebdo Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard accepts the award as Alain Mabanckou looks on. AP photo by Beowulf Sheehan