COMICS – This is the most prestigious award for comics. This Wednesday, June 23, the American Chris Ware won the Grand Prix of the City of Angoulême, during a Festival like no other.

The author of “Jimmy Corrigan” and “Rusty Brown”, 53, sees the crowning achievement of a career where he asserted an instantly recognizable style in the “comic strip”. He was doomed to receive this award one day, having been a finalist for the three previous years.

The winner of the 2021 Grand Prix is ​​announced: congratulations to Chris Ware! # comicstagram # fibd2021 # fibd # bd # comics # grandprix2021 # chrisware # angoulemepic.twitter.com / KDBjg7CKu3

Usually held in January in southwestern France, the Festival was unable to welcome an audience this winter due to the Covid-19 epidemic and the ban on gatherings. He had therefore postponed this Grand Prix in June, hoping for more favorable conditions.

Uncertainty prompted organizers to abandon these summer plans. And it wasn’t even behind closed doors that the author of “Rusty Brown” received his award: he had to stay home on the other side of the Atlantic.

The Grand Prix should give the American a notoriety that he still lacks among the general public in France. But this consecration did not go smoothly.

Awarded following a two-step process by a “community vote of professional comic book authors,” the award was an opportunity for some to express their dissatisfaction.

Voters “made the choice of a protest vote (which could not be counted, since it did not relate to an author or a cartoonist) in order to attract the attention of the public again. authorities on the conditions under which authors exercise their profession ”, announced the festival in May.

The name of the winner, who succeeds Frenchman Emmanuel Guibert, was announced by a simple press release, without the award ceremony.

The American’s style quickly gained international success, thanks in part to the more than 25 covers of New Yorker magazine he signed.

Among the favorites of the 2013 Grand Prix, he was overtaken by the satirist Willem. In 2015, he won a special prize with “Building Stories”, an indefinable object in 14 volumes. And in 2018, 2019 and 2020, he is a Grand Prix finalist for three consecutive years.

In the 2021 edition, Chris Ware found himself in the second round against two French women, Pénélope Bagieu and Catherine Meurisse, whom he beat. The results of the first and second round are not disclosed.

Winner, Chris Ware joins legends of mainly European comics such as Franquin, Wolinski, Zep, but also three compatriots: Art Spiegelman (“Maus”), Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”) and Richard Corben (fantastic comic).

The Angoulême Festival plans to return to its classic format in 2022, with a 49th edition from January 27 to 30.

For the economy of this city of Charentes, which has lost much of its industry, the cancellation of mainstream events in 2021 was a blow. Angoulême presents itself not only as a “city of festivals”, but also “city of the image” with its creation studios.

Even without its emblematic Festival, comics, for their part, are in excellent health in France. According to the National Book Center, its turnover has climbed 46% in ten years, to 591 million euros in 2020, largely thanks to the popularity of Japanese manga.

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