The author of The Arab of the future and Notebooks of Esther received this Wednesday evening the supreme award of the 9th Art. He succeeds Quebecer Julie Doucet, winner of the Grand Prix in 2022.
Often accused of celebrating independent or confidential comics, the Angoulême festival dedicated this Wednesday evening the most popular author of the moment. Riad Sattouf, known mainly for its sagas The Arab of the future and The Notebooks of Esther, this Wednesday won the Grand Prix d’Angoulême, the supreme award for the 9th Art. Finalist against Alison Bechdel and Catherine Meurisse, he succeeds Julie Doucet.
In Angoulême, this designer won most of the prizes during his career. René-Goscinny Prize exactly twenty years ago for The Poor Adventures of Jeremyhe has since twice won the Fauve d’or, which rewards the best album (Pascal Brutal in 2010 and The Arab of the future in 2015). This prodigious ascent will be the subject of an exhibition next year, as is the tradition of the festival.
The choice of Riad Sattouf should not fail to react in a context of strong discontent in the sector towards the Angoulême festival. While the repeated absence of women’s Grands Prix (only four in 50 editions) and exhibitions devoted to women authors (only one this year) accentuates resentment, this new spotlight on an author risks dividing a little more sector already quite disunited.
A decisive moment
The Grand Prix comes especially for Riad Sattouf at a decisive moment in his career. The final volume of The Arab of the future, a moving account of his separation from his younger brother, kidnapped by their Syrian father, has just been published. The designer also published The young actora hilarious evocation of the career of Vincent Lacoste, whose considerable success has consolidated Riad Sattouf’s place among the major figures of comics.
The Grand Prix also comes to salute an author whose fame goes beyond the world of comics. Also a director (he received the César for best first film for The handsome kids and is preparing a film with Les Inconnus), Riad Sattouf is also an intellectual figure, one of the rare comic book authors whose view of the news matters. In 2017, he was thus one of the first French artists to call to block Marine Le Pen.
Discover your place
Known for his seemingly simplistic style, which is in the tradition of the clear line of Hergé, Riad Sattouf is a gifted designer, capable of switching to ultra-realism as well as favoring minimalism, like his idol Mœbius. . Collaborator of Charlie Hebdo and Freezing Fluidhe has developed, in contrast to his clear line, a schoolboy and provocative sense of humor all in self-mockery.
The discovery at the end of the 1990s of a new generation of designers played a decisive role in its formation. Marked by Phamille booklet of Jean-Christophe Menu, he then understands the possibility of telling intimate stories in a different way. Reading Pierre La Police, master of absurd humor, is also a revelation, as is his meeting with Émile Bravo, also a follower of the clear line to tell dark stories.
When Riad Sattouf moved to the Vosges workshop in Paris in the early 2000s, where Christophe Blain, Mathieu Sapin and Joann Sfar worked, he learned to find his place in comics. Blain was then a hit with historical comics (isaac the pirate), Sfar with heroic fantasy and mythological tales (dungeon) and Sapin with the surrealist comedy (supermurgeman). He is moving towards intimate stories to stand out.
A coherent work
During these years, the cartoonist builds album after album a coherent work marked by a fine observation of the troubles of adolescence. His stories are most often initiatory stories, inspired by his own life (My Circumcision, The Arab of the future), that of his relatives (The Notebooks of Esther, The young actor) and observations obtained in the field (The Secret Life of Youth).
His work is populated by outstanding characters such as Pascal Brutal, macho and bodybuilder hero who appeared in four cult albums published between 2006 and 2014. Fascinated by the observation comedy of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and his ability to find the extraordinary in the insignificant, he imagines in homage The Poor Adventures of Jeremy (2003-2005).
The phenomenal success encountered from 2015 with The Arab of the future somewhat overshadowed these first works, which should be rediscovered thanks to the Grand Prix. Riad Sattouf himself, who recently launched his own publishing house, Les Livres du Futur, has big plans and plans in particular to republish his first works, including Pipit Farlouse (2004-2006), one of his favorite works.
Failures and reviews
Like any successful artist, Sattouf has also experienced bitter failures, such as that of his film Jacky in the kingdom of girls (2014). One of his books, My Circumcision (2004), on his circumcision as a teenager, was nearly banned by the Commission for the Supervision and Control of Publications for Children. He has since had it withdrawn from sale to avoid parasitizing The Arab of the futurewhere he tells the same story.
Often hailed by the press and the public, his observation work does not always meet with unanimous approval. His ironic and detached look at the world, which could be perceived as contemptuous, has often been criticized. boards of back to college (2007), an immersive story by the cartoonist in one of the best colleges in France, which shows his character fantasizing about schoolgirls, also debated.
Master of stories of autobiographical inspiration, Riad Sattouf has not yet shown the full extent of his artistic palette. The designer has never published science fiction stories, a genre he particularly appreciates. For the time being, his projects have not come to fruition and he has found meanwhile roundabout ways to approach it by observing our world as a being from another dimension.