Uderzo, Art Spiegelman, Zep, Hugo Pratt… to these prestigious names of comic book monuments was added a new one since Wednesday evening: that of Riad Sattouf. The author of the “Arab of the future” series was chosen, by the vote of his peers, Grand Prix of the city of Angoulême, at the opening of the international festival which starts tomorrow and continues until Sunday. He was preferred to Catherine Meurisse and American Alison Bechdel, both finalists, succeeding Canadian Julie Doucet, winner last year.
What fill the designer with joy, with a mischievous smile under the well-trimmed beard: “I am flabbergasted, moved and very happy! When I was a teenager, I dreamed of making books, I became passionate very young. Not being at all from a cultural background predisposed to artistic expression, I dreamed of reaching this forbidden continent, the continent of authors! It was already a huge summit for me to climb. So to have the Grand Prix in Angoulême one day, like Druillet, Moebius, Bilal… I never even thought about it. There’s something abstract, especially since it’s a vote, a kind of election… the authors’ vote… It’s very moving! he confided.
He might be the only one who didn’t think of it. Because, for almost ten years, the author with a discreet nature has succeeded in what remains a challenge in comics: to make his name known well beyond the radius of bubble lovers. His own magic potion has a rather strange name “the Arab of the future”, in reference to pan-Africanism, an autobiographical saga he has just completed by a masterful 6th volume.
He recounts his childhood between Syria and Brittany, between the country of his father and that of his mother, their divorce, the separation from his brother… An intimate story but full of humor which seduces from the first volume. The critics love it, the public follows and the album is dedicated Fauve d’or in Angouleme. Since then, the series has sold over 3 million copies worldwide. “I make comics for people who don’t read them. If this prize can convert new readers to this art that I love so much, I will be very happy! “he reacted this Wednesday. But this Grand Prix is not based solely on this phenomenal success.
From “Pascal Brutal” to “Cahiers d’Esther”
From his beginnings in 2003, when he settled in the studio with Christophe Blain, Joann Sfar and Matthew Fir, Sattouf stood out with “Les Pauvres Aventures de Jérémie”, a hilarious portrait of a loser, who won the Goscinny prize for best screenplay. This is followed by “The Secret Life of Young People”, published in “Charlie Hebdo”, then “Return to College”, and above all “Pascal Brutal”, a sort of hyper-muscled, hyper-sexed, hyper-macho but bisexual suburban Rambo. Volume III won a second Fauve d’or in Angoulême, proof that the festival is already making eyes at Riad Sattouf.
The supreme reward granted today, the author could perhaps have won it earlier. In 2016, when his name appeared on the list of possible winners, he let it be known that he was withdrawing, “embarrassed” by the absence of women in the competition. Faced with two women this year, he says he is more serene about the “feminization” of the profession: “I think there is a better representation of women authors than at the time,” says the author.
VIDEO. Riad Sattouf: “For Esther, the boys are great nags! »
Freed from the “Arab of the future”, Riad Sattouf is now continuing its other successful series, “Les Cahiers d’Esther”, based on anecdotes collected from a teenager today. He also has time to devote himself to his other passion: cinema. After the tremendous success of “Les Beaux gosses”, in 2009, and the failure of “Jacky in the kingdom of girls”, in 2014, he is now working on the script for the film which will sign the return of the Unknowns. Without of course letting go of comics… Moreover, when asked about what we can wish him for the future, the answer is clear: “Publish many more books! I like the title of Resnais’ film, made at the end of his life and whose enthusiasm I really like: You have not seen anything yet ! »