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Bart Beaty on Euro-Prizes
posted December 2, 2004

Bart Beaty
Calgary, Alberta

Allow me to weigh in again on the Euro-prize thing - it's becoming my specialty.

The Rene Goscinny Prize is another that used to be presented at Angouleme but was cut loose by the festival. And, you're right, it's for writers, and named after one of the most celebrated writers in the history of Franco-Belgian comics.

The Prix International de la Ville de Geneve is the real interesting one though, and I think that the background is worth sharing. In 1996, the young Geneva cartoonist scene was exploding with publishers (BuLB, Drozophile, Atrabile) and more talent than almost anyplace on earth (Frederick Peeters, Ben, Ibn al Rabin, Wazem, Tom Tirabosco, Nadia Raviscioni, Isabelle Pralong, Exem, Helge Reumann, Nicolas Robel, Xavier Robel...). Really, artist for artist, Geneva was near the top. But no one knew it. So, Roland Margueron, who runs the world's nicest comics shop (Papiers Gras) got the bright idea of having the city sponsor an award. Actually, two awards. One would go to a big name international artist, and this would guarantee that the award would get reported on by the press. The other, the prix Topffer pour la jeune bande dessinee genevoise (Topffer prize for young cartoonist from Geneva) would get reported on alongside the big name, and it would help the young cartoonist since they would get the local interest reporting.

I think that this is one of the most brilliant and self-less ideas in comics, by the way: Let's promote our local young talent by giving an award to someone famous and piggy-backing on that. This is sheer genius!

Anyway, I guess it didn't work so well this year, since the site you linked to only cared about Goetting (I've ordered this book, but don't have it yet - Goetting is an absolute and total genius who has been out of comics for too long. My expectations for this one are higher than my expectations were for the new Clowes or Kramer's Ergot). But the Topffer prize this year went to Ben, for his book Ils Auront au Jazz (Decoupage). I haven't seen a copy of this yet, but Ben is really great as well.

This site has the official results, plus the other nominees listed, and links to past winners. The award committee, by the way, also publishes a book with essays, bios and examples of the works of the six nominees, and the books are always spectacular objects themselves.