Angouleme 2017 Regroups After 2016's Controversies

Last year's Angouleme International Comics Festival was a disaster from start to finish, from the selection of 30 finalists for the Grand Prix d'Angouleme that didn't include a single woman (sparking a boycott that led the organizers to scrap the whole thing) to the awards ceremony where the MC gave joke awards — but didn't let anyone in on the joke beforehand, resulting in a number of creators thinking they had won an award only to learn they hadn't. After the festival, a group of French publishers gave the government an ultimatum: Reform the show, or we pull out.

Viewed from afar, at least, this year's show seemed to go a lot more smoothly. The Grand Prix selection didn't engender any controversy. In the first round of voting, the voters (professionals whose comics have been published in France) could vote for anyone they liked. 970 creators voted in that round, and a number of women were named, although none received enough votes to be finalists. The three final candidates were Chris Ware, Manu Larcenet, and Bernard Cosey, who goes by just his last name. Initially, Alan Moore had made the top three -- for the fourth time -- but he informed the organizers that he would not accept the award and they removed his name.

The winner, chosen by the same voters in a second round, was Cosey. While he's not exactly a household name in the U.S., IDW is about to publish his graphic novel "Mysterious Melody: Or How Mickey Met Minnie," one of a series of faux-retro Disney graphic novels the publisher is bringing over from France, and according to his Amazon page, much of his other work is available on Kindle, some in French, some in English.

The other big news was the unveiling of a monument honoring "Asterix" creator René Goscinny, a stone obelisk engraved with speech balloons containing quotes from the comic, some of which have become common catch phrases in French. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the creator's death, and the festival also revived the Prix Goscinny, which went to comics creator Emmanuel Guibert.

The South Korean comics creator Ancco won the Prix Révélation, which recognizes emerging creators, for her graphic novel "Bad Friend"; this is the first time a major award has gone to a Korean creator.

The Fauve d'Or, the prize for the best graphic album, went to "Paysage après la Bataille" by Philippe de Pierpont and Eric Lambé. The other awards:

Fauve d’Angouleme, Prix du Public (chosen by customers at the Cultura bookstore chain): "L'Homme qui Tua Lucky Luke" (The Man Who Killed Lucky Luke), by Mathieu Bonhomme. (Available in English via EuropeComics.)

Prix Spécial du Jury (special jury prize): "Ce qu'il faut de Terre a l'Homme," by Martin Veyron

Prix de la Série (best series): "Chiisakobe," vol. 4, by Minetaro Mochizuki

Prix Jeunesse (young readers): "La Jeunesse de Mickey," by Tebo.

Prix du Patrimoine (reprints of works of historical significance): "Le Club des Divorcés," vol. 2, by Kazuo Kamimura

Prix Polar SNCF (mystery and suspense stories): "L'Eté Diabolik," by Alexandre Clérisse and Thierry Smolderen

Prix de la BD alternative: "Biscoto #44: Le renne des nieges"

Writing for France Today, Dominic Bliss has a nice overview of the festival, describing what Angouleme is like during that busy week and providing a bit of background on Franco-Belgian comics as well. The EuropeComics folks also toured the show, and they interviewed Posy Simmonds, who was the president of this year's Grand Jury.

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