Angouleme 2018 – the nominees
As explained in my previous post, every new edition of the Angoulême Festival comes with a generous number of awards, each with an equally general amount of nominees. It is safe to say that if you make the rundown of all books on the various long and short lists, you get a pretty good overview of all the good comics that were published in the past year. In French, that is, for the most part (even for non Francophones it is worth checking, because publishers around the world take note of these titles when looking for translation deals).
The Sélection Officielle is something of the official list of the best comics and graphic novels of the past year. If you only read these 45 titles, you’re up to date. The list is very broad in terms of genre, country of origin and audience, with long-running BD series (Jérôme K. Jérôme Bloche by Dénis Dodier) and literary graphic novels (Anna Sommer’s L’Inconnu). A healthy number of Japanese (Tokyo Alian Bros by Keigo Shinzo and La Cantine de Minuit by Yarô Abe) and American titles (the third volume of Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree and Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer). With Isabel Greenberg’s Les Cent Nuits de Héro and Black Project by Gareth Brooks, the British contingent also has its representatives. My personal favourite from the lot, though, is Blutch’s Variations, in which the celebrated French cartoonist redraws pages from the comics that most influenced him. More about that later.
Based on the longlist, the Grand Jury already selected a short list for the Fauve D’Ôr, the award for the best Album of the year. Possible winners include the third volume of Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree, along with Anna Sommer’s L’Inconnu and Le Terre des Fils by Gipi.
One of the books on the list, Opération Copperhead, already won the other prestigeous award of the Festival, the Prix René Goscinny for the best script. This award, named after the legendary co-creator of Astérix, and driving force behind Pilote Magazine, is presented for the second time by the Institut Goscinny, this time to the young French writer, artist and journalist Jean Harambat.
A shortlist that peeks my interest every year, is that of the Prix Jeunesse, listing the best all-ages books of the year. The variety in these titles is pretty amazing, and even though certain titles seem to build on tried and true formulas (Zep’s new Titeuf, his 15th already, or Tony Valente’s euromanga, Radiant), there’s always the spark of the new. I’m pretty curious about Sandrine Bonini and Merwan’s Clémence Evidence A Toujours Raison (about a girl who’s always right), Cécile Bidault’s silent comic L’Ecorce Des Choses (which tries to convey what it means to be deaf, with amazing artwork) and Julia Billet and Claire Fauvel’s La Guerre De Catherine, about a girl who decides not to run from the Nazi occupation in 1941, but rather to stay behind and photograph what is happening.
The Sélection Patrimoine is the final main shortlist, recognizing the current trend of bundling classic and out of print comics in new, often lavish collections, and thus the fact that comics is not a new medium, and needs to curate its history. The first volume in my countryman André Geerts’ very moving series Jojo is among the laureates, together with C’Est La Jungle, a re-edition of Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book and the quite spectacular anthology Dans L’Infini, collecting the fantastical early 20th Century work of seminal French cartoonist Victor Mousselet.
For some reason, the French railways, a major supporter of the festival, one day decided to make its own short list of the best polar comics, a typical French term for all things crime, PI and police procedurals (this year with Max de Radiguès’s Bâtard). And finally there’s the Prix Du Public, twelve albums from the Sélection Officielle chosen by members of the French culture website Cultura.