From our Continental Correspondent: Angouleme – Grand Prix for Cosey
As is de rigeur these days, the latest edition of the Festival of Angoulême opened today with the announcement of the winner of the Grand Prix. As is the custom, this comics luminary will act as the Président of next year’s edition and will have the possibility to more or less steer the Festival’s official programme into certain directions.
The winner of this year’s Grand Prix, as decided in two voting rounds by the professional cartoonists registered with the Festival, is Swiss cartoonist Cosey. A student of his fellow-countryman Derib, Cosey made a name for himself in 1975 with his own series, Jonathan, which was completely different from the other comics that appeared alongside it in Tintin magazine. The series tells of the travels of a young man across the Himalayas, his thoughts and impressions and the people he meets along the way.
Instead of typical exotic adventure, the focus of the series is on introspection and on how Jonathan sees and interprets the world around him, how it shapes his ethical views and artistic vision. It is often said that Jonathan is as close to autobiography that fiction can go, even though Cosey maintains that, even though there’s a lot of Jonathan in him, the story is entirely fictional.
The series was remarkable not only in its subject matter, but in its art as well. Cosey’s pages are always a exercise in maintaining an equilibrium of lightness, in his lines, his (muted) colors and his page layouts. Cosey allows his pages to breathe by giving ample room to impressive vistas and landscapes, often in combination with rather inventive panelling. And lots of snow.
Even though Jonathan is still continuing (the most recent book, Celle Qui Fuit, appeared in 2013 but has also already been included in the series latest intégrale), Cosey truly found a format that fit his broad storytelling in collections like Aire Libre (Dupuis) and Histoires et Légendes (Lombard), which allows creators to tell a stand-alone story in one or two volumes, with a less than strict page count. Cosey wrote and drew several books for these collections, including the celebrated A La Recherche de Peter Pan, Saigon-Hanoï and Zeke raconte des histoires.
Most recently Cosey was the creator of Une Mystérieuse Mélodie, one of the books published by Glénat that used the characters from the Walt Disney universe in totally new settings (see an earlier post about this book here).
In addition to Cosey, two other names had been floated the past couple of days: Chris Ware, who’s been a mainstay of the Grand Prix short list, and French graphic novelist Emmanuel Larcenet, probably best known for his recent series, Le Combat Ordinaire and Blast. As the FIBD revealed earlier, Alan Moore had originally been on the shortlist for the second vote, but declined.