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We, As All Right-Thinking Folk Do, Rejoice At The News

[Quick note before the main event: Rosemary Mosco and a host of other creators from :01 Books’s Science Comics line will be at Friendly Neighborhood Comics in Bellingham, Massachusetts on Saturday, 26 January, from noon to 3:00pm. Go see them!]

You have, by now, no doubt heard the news that the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême has, after generally suffering from a couple of years of not having their collective shit together, pulled up their pants and gotten over themselves. That is to say, they have declared Rumiko Takahashi the winner of the Grand Prix, which makes her only the second woman¹ (after Florence Cestac in 2000) and the second manga artist² (after Katsuhiro Otomo in 2015) so honored in the festival’s 45 year history.

Given the depth and breadth of her career, and the numerous creators who’ve established their careers and cited Takahashi as their inspiration, this is both richly deserved and long overdue. For generations of readers around the world, Takahashi is practically synonymous with comics. Nobody can dispute these actual facts, and you’ve no doubt read something very similar to this already.

But have you read the observations of a French lover of comics? Take it away, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin!


So Rumiko Takahashi won this year’s Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême, and this is a significant event in more than one way.

First, it is significant for Takahashi-san herself, of course. While to the French public she needs no introduction, it is expected this will result in renewed exposure to her work, such as through re-edition of her classic works (did you know? It is only after Bill Watterson won the Grand Prix in 2014 that France finally got a French version of the Calvin and Hobbes tenth anniversary book).

Then, it is significant because she’s a mangaka. For a very long time comics professionals of the French-Belgian school have been resentful of manga’s success in France, sometimes openly so, and it is still going on today, to an extent. This new Grand Prix both shows the body of professionals is changing (the profession as a whole contributed to selecting the Grand Prix) and means it is time to put that attitude to rest and accept manga as an integral part of the pinnacle of sequential art; because while Katsuhiro Otomo’s Grand Prix in 2015 might have been misinterpreted as a fluke, Takahashi’s Grand Prix confirms that it isn’t.

It is also significant because she has created a significant body of all-ages comics. While I revere Otomo-san, I am also not going to give Akira to my 9-year-old nieces (or nephews); this celebration of all-ages comics is significant in that, while French-Belgian classics such as Tintin, Astérix, Spirou, etc. could be read by everyone from 7 to 77 years old, as the slogan went, the industry has drifted away from that in recent decades, with most comics bookshops today featuring a split between regular comics and comics for children. This, to me, is an unnecessary segmentation that impoverishes the medium, and we are fortunate to have creators such as Takahashi-san, many of them in manga, that keep supporting the idea of all-ages comics; we can only hope this Grand Prix will cause this segmentation to be reconsidered. In a similar fashion, Takahashi’s work blurs the line between shojo and shonen, weakening that segmentation as well.

And it is most significant because of her gender, of course. Finally we have a second female Grand Prix winner to keep company to Florence Cestac. Remember it was only three years ago that Frank Bondoux attempted to claim the absence of any female creator in the 30 nominees for that year could be in any way justified … and while many of us always knew he was telling de la merde that day³ (with we at Fleen specifically suggesting Takahashi-san as an example of qualifying female creator), this year is the year the supreme court of comics for the French-Belgian circuit handed him down a decisive defeat. Good riddance to that idea.


Our thanks to FSFCPL for his local insight, and congratulations again to Rumiko Takahashi; as one of the aspects of the Grand Prix is that the winner is the President of the next year’s Festival, look for Angoulême 2020 to feature a lot of leggy ladies, short skirts, bountiful hair, frustration-laden slow-burn romance, and the best sight gags since Chuck Jones.

Spam of the day:

The persons shown in photographs in this email may not necessarily be actual users of

As you didn’t actually include any pictures, I imagine not.

¹ Or possibly third; in 1983 an additional tenth anniversary prize was awarded to Claire Bretécher, but it wasn’t the “real” prize.

² Again, possibly third; in 2013, a special fortieth anniversary prize was awarded to Akira Toriyama.

³ An event so obnoxious it resulted in me taking up the mantle of Fleen Senior French Correspondent from then on. [Editor’s note: And we at Fleen are lucky to have him!]

Am I missing something, or did you write all this up but not include a link to her comic(s)?

You know what Rumiko Takahashi does not have? A single website. The online presence of various comics is handled by her various publishers (and a bunch of pirates). But if you like, here’s the most prominent English language fansite.

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