Everything smiles at Riad Sattouf. The creator of The Arab of the future (Allary) was designated the Angoulême Grand Prix on Wednesday January 25, on the occasion of the opening night of the International Comics Festival (FIBD), of which it is the 50e edition (January 26 to 29).
A vote organized online with professionals in the sector (designers, screenwriters, colorists, etc.) saw him beat Catherine Meurisse and American Alison Bechdelcame out on top alongside him after a first ballot. Riad Sattouf succeeds Quebecer Julie Doucet among the winners of this award, given to a comic strip author for his entire career.
If he is, at 44, among the youngest winners, the one who is also a director (The Beautiful Kids, 2009) has built a humorous work overflowing with acuity, thirty-five works strong. Until then, Riad Sattouf was one of the rare authors to have twice won the Fauve d’or for best album in Angoulême: in 2010 for volume 3 of his series Pascal Brutal (Icy Fluid) and in 2015 for the first volume of The Arab of the future, an autobiographical saga with undeniable critical and public success, translated into more than twenty languages, of which the sixth and final chapter has just been released. Riad Sattouf recently added another string to its bow by creating its own publishing house, Les Livres du futur.
“Make comics for people who don’t read them”
The awarding of the grand prize does not happen by chance. “Having had a giant ego from adolescence, I confess to having dreamed of publishing books with my name on them, to have dreamed of being successful, to have dreamed that journalists from the World ask me questions about my work… But as far as the Angoulême Grand Prix is concerned, I really never thought about it. Going after Druillet, Mœbius, Bilal was too abstract and inconceivable”he confided by e-mail before joining the banks of the Charente.
“Converting new readers to this art that I love so much is something that makes me happy. If my price can be used for that, I will be very satisfied” – Riad Sattouf
Its consecration marks the crowning achievement of a work one of the main characteristics of which is to address the greatest number of people, in particular a readership far removed from comics at the start. “I started out as an author of very trashy humorous comics, with a limited audience of aficionadoshe recalls. I then tried to make comics for people who don’t read them, taking as my first dream reader my Breton grandmother, who didn’t really like comics. »
In 2016, Riad Sattouf appeared on a list of around thirty authors, exclusively male, shortlisted for the grand prize by the artistic direction of the FIBD – a lively controversy ensued. He then asked that his name be removed from this list to be replaced by those of beloved authors, such as the Japanese Rumiko Takahashi or Quebecer Julie Doucet. Both have since been elected to the Angoulême prize list, after a reform of the system for designating the grand prizes.
Currently occupied with the finalization of the penultimate volume of the Notebooks of Esther (Allary) – his other hit series –, Riad Sattouf will not reveal anything about “many projects” on which he is working. “As Alain Resnais said with the title of one of his last films, which I adore: ‘You haven’t seen anything yet!’ »