After a month of controversy surrounding the prize, Belgian cartoonist Hermann was awarded the Grand Prix d'Angoulême, Europe’s most prestigious award for comics.
This year's Grand Prix, given out at at the 43rd annual Angoulême Festival International de la Bande Desinée in France, was shrouded in controversy. Usually a cause for celebration, the lifetime achievement award incited a protest after it was revealed that only male nominees were being considered for for the honor.
Even though the show's organizers withdrew their initial nominee list, the outcry continued. The three artists eventually named as finalists—Hermann, renowned comics writer Alan Moore, and the much-admired if lesser-known illustrator Claire Wendling—all initially declined to accept the award.
Hermann was ultimately persuaded to accept the prize, though the entire episode seems to have devalued the award's standing, at least for this year. Hermann (whose full name is Hermann Huppen) has been nominated multiple times for the award. In the U.S., his post-apocalyptic science-fiction series Jeremiah is published by Dark Horse.
Aside from the troubles the show had with the Grand Prix, Angoulême remains an extraordinary show. Taking over the historic medieval-era city of Angoulême completely, the programs and exhibitions seemingly occupy every venue in the city.
And, unlike American comics conventions, Angoulême is a monument to book publishing. There are no blockbuster movies, video games, or transmedia projects on display, and virtually no American-style periodical comics. It’s all books at Angoulême—hardcovers and trade paperbacks—from more than 300 publishers.
Angoulême is also a major rights market for graphic novels. About 60 publishers (including a handful of American ones) registered with the show's licensing and rights market.
The show has consistently drawn large crowds, attracting between 80,000 and 100,000 fans in past years. However, veteran attendees told PW they believe the recent attacks in Paris adversely affected attendance at this year's show. The heightened security at this years show was noticeable, with attendees required to submit to a body search before entering any venue.