BD: the American Chris Ware, king of the “comic strip”, crowned at the Angoulême Festival

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Undisputed master of the “comic strip”, the American Chris Ware, who has reinvented a rich tradition of comics in the United States, was awarded the Grand Prix of the City of Angoulême on Wednesday.

The American Chris Ware won, Wednesday, June 23, the most prestigious award in comics, the Grand Prix de la Ville d’Angoulême, during a festival unlike any other.

Undisputed master of the American comic strip, Chris Ware, 53, was doomed to receive this award one day. He had been a finalist for the three previous years.

But the festival, usually held in January in southwestern France, was unable to welcome an audience this winter due to the Covid-19 epidemic and the ban on gatherings. The Grand Prix was therefore postponed to June, in the hope of more favorable conditions.

Uncertainty prompted the organizers to abandon their summer plans. And it was not even behind closed doors that the author of “Rusty Brown” received his award: he had to stay at home, on the other side of the Atlantic.

The Grand Prix should offer the American a notoriety which he still lacks with the general French public. But this consecration did not come about smoothly.

Awarded at the end of a two-step process by a “vote of the community 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.

Alongside the legends

The recipient of these votes was Bruno Racine, a senior official who returned to the government in January 2020 a report proposing a more advantageous status for authors in general. His proposals have gone unheeded.

Once these null votes were ruled out, 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.

The American succeeds Frenchman Emmanuel Guibert. The Angoulême Museum has dedicated an exhibition to this author which closes its doors on Sunday.

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

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 a good part of its industry, the cancellation of general public 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 10 years, to 591 million euros in 2020, largely thanks to the popularity of Japanese manga.

With AFP

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