The announcement today of the finalists for the Grand Prix at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in Angoulême continued the eyebrow raising. Recall that the FIBD had previously announced an all-male longlist for the most prestigious prize in comics, which led to calls for a boycott of the voting (and the festival itself), and saw a dozen of the nominees reject their place on the ballot. FIBD first attempted to rectify the situation by adding the names of six female cartoonists to the ballot, and then (in the same day) abandoned that plan in favour of an open vote.
The results are in! If you had Hermann, Alan Moore, and Claire Wendling in your pool, you are a winner!
The initial reaction on North American social media can probably be summed up by people asking variations of "Who is Claire Wendling?". She is little-known in North America (she lacks even a Wikipedia page, but has one on French-language Wikipedia). With writer Christophe Gibelin she produced the six volumes of Les Lumières de l'Amalou for Delcourt in the early-1990s. She has not (to my knowledge) produced any book-length comics since 1996, working primarily as an illustrator, as well as in film and gaming. She lives in Angoulême and was the subject of a Facebook campaign led by Jean-David Morvan to place her on the ballot. In an interview she described being nominated for the prize this year as the equivalent of being given an ugly sweater as a Christmas gift.
Hermann (Huppen) is the Belgian cartoonist responsible for literally dozens of books over a more than fifty-year career. Not exceedingly well translated into English, he is at least known for Jeremiah, which was turned into a television series. This is the second year in a row that Hermann has appeared on the final ballot, and he has stated in interviews that he would decline the award were he to receive it.
Alan Moore, of course, is the subject of Chapter Five of our book. This is his third straight year among the final three and he has also indicated that he will not accept the award.
A definite trend among the finalists over the past few years:
2014: Bill Watterson, Katsuiro Otomo, Alan Moore
2015: Katsuhiro Otomo, Alan Moore, Hermann
2016: Alan Moore, Hermann, Claire Wendling
At least the voters are consistent. And possibly sway-able on Facebook.