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January 18, 2017


Chris Ware, Cosey, Manu Larcenet Up For Angouleme Grand Prix: Alan Moore Quietly Steps Aside

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An e-mail went out today at I think 11 AM local time noting that the results of the first round of professional voting for this year's Angouleme Festival Grand Prix (and next year's presidency) have put Chris Ware, Cosey and Manu Larcenet in the final round. That is an excellent group of artists.

This result reflects a vote that took place from January 9 to 15. This next round will take place from January 18 to 22. The vote is open to comics authors regardless of nationality whose work has been published in the French language market in French. It looks like to vote in the second round they had to participate in the first, but if I were on the border of qualifying I'd probably double check that.

The site for voting is here. There is a dropbox site for the authors' bios here.

The prize-winner will be named at the opening ceremony the Wednesday before the show officially opens.

The press release notes that Alan Moore made the original top three but Moore has opted out of this kind of recognition, and a chance for this recognition specifically. That would be a potentiallly really interesting show, but I fully understand the arguments both for and against participating in awards programs and that should be left to the artist when there's a community element.

imageThere are two contexts for this year's grand prix vote: last year's grand prix vote and the recent, fussy history of that awards and awards more generally at the festival: if not the grand event of world comics than one of the top three.

Last year's vote was rightly hammered into reputational powder after it was revealed there was a formal nominating round with a significant number of cartoonists offered up on a list, a long-list that contained no women. None. This was exacerbated by idiotic-to-misplayed press appearances and rhetorical strategies and just plain and arrogant thinking that further suggested that for any female cartoonist to be considered for probably the grandest prize in the comics dozens upon dozens of male cartoonists should be considered first -- even hiding behind the execrable history of comics when it comes to those numbers maybe being tough to balance as a way to justify a shut-out. Chris Ware was one of several cartoonists to withdraw from the process and 2016 consideration.

That protest led to a deeper threat of wider protest after the show concluded, leading to reform steps seen since. The idea that no women at all are worthy of consideration doesn't reflect any conception of the comics world popularly held, and even if asserted as arguable (one tricky way is to note that the small percentage of previous years votes is a tacit endorsement of the scarcity of female talent) underlines how the long-list was a spectacular failure of the awards in terms of bringing positive attention and an audience boost to the awards. That is, of course, the other context, the effort made by the festival in recent years to break the old-boy network of winners voting for the newest winners, and becoming more in touch with popular taste as a result. I think there's an argument the festival can make that with recent Grand Prix winners like Bill Watterson, that part of a desirable end result has been generally met when compared to choices from a decade or so ago.

Does this take us the rest of the way? While the awards is no longer hindered by its recent, resolutely cynical nominations process, and bringing in trustworthy representative committees for oversight and general admin is a great step, I think we'll have to see if an open call for grand prix nominees can over time avoid the trap of foregrounding the grand prix as something to be passed along between members of a new unofficial club as restrictive in result as the smaller voting room of old (literally). I hope so, as it's such a grand award. It's a Willie Wonka award! You get to shape the next festival! But yeah, even with all three of those great artists in play I think my heart would rather see Posy Simmonds on that list than on the committee to help things run more smoothly.

my thanks to xavier guilbert for the PR-forwarding assist
 
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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