I couldn't decide which one I thought would win, but I was fairly certain it wouldn't be me! Cindy and Biscuit looked as though it could really appeal to a young audience with its no-nonsense girl protagonist, giant robots and alien encounters; Luke Pearson had won last year with another Hilda book and had already proved himself a deserved favourite; Playing Out looked as though it spoke directly to young people and their real-life experiences, with style; and Viviane's book was a wonderfully original idea, beautifully executed by an author with a track record in quality work.
Photo courtesy Sarah McIntyre ©2013 - with thanks.
Adam Cadwell, the awards' founder, and Debbie Moody, the Leeds Young People's Librarian, were the hosts for the afternoon, with four or five school groups in attendance. The Young People's Award is voted for by actual young readers (the other British Comic Awards categories are voted for by a judging panel). Star author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre gave a fabulous 20-minute talk, focusing on her own work but applying it to how anyone can make their own comics. She also got everyone drawing their own Sea Monkey!
Each of the attending nominated authors then did a brief talk about their book. Dan White spoke eloquently on how he came up with Cindy and Biscuit, talking about creating his tough girl heroine and some of his story-telling techniques. I think I was next, extracting a part of my longer presentation where I concentrate on how I make a page and a few examples of research I'd done. Luke Pearson wasn't able to be there, but his publisher, Nobrow, had sent a set of beautiful Hilda models, one of each given to the school groups and an extra as a raffle prize. Jim Medway was illuminating on the philosophy of his book and on drawing his trademark cat-people. Viviane was last, revealing some intriguing snippets about the origin of her graphic novel and the stories and dreams contained within. It was a really good hour or so of fascinating comics creating information.
At last it was time for Adam Cadwell to open the little golden envelope and to reveal the winner. By now I thought I knew who it was, as when Jim Medway had got up to give his talk there had been a cheer round the room, which I don't think any of us others had, and I thought the winner had been revealed! Instead, however, The Complete Rainbow Orchid was announced. It really was a very big and genuinely unexpected surprise.
I felt a bit embarrassed getting up in place of any of the other worthy nominees, worried there had been a mistake. I made a pretty rubbish acceptance speech - sorry! On my way back to my seat Sarah said to me "all that hard work paid off", and it has been a long road ... I don't know if this is the end of it, but it's certainly a very nice capping of what's turned out to be a pretty good year for RO.
Photo courtesy Sarah McIntyre ©2013 - with thanks.
Unfortunately I had to return home that day, so I missed out on a weekend of selling my book at Thought Bubble as a BCA winner, and also attending the festival's main awards ceremony on the Saturday evening. The other winners were: Best Book - The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon; Best Comic - Winter's Knight by Robert Ball; Emerging Talent - Will Morris; and Hall of Fame - Leo Baxendale.
That will answer the question of why I was in Leeds on the Friday, but not at Thought Bubble for the weekend, which did confuse some people - sorry (see Sarah McIntyre's excellent blog round-up of the festival here). I'd like to clear up another point that has been put my way a couple of times - the question of why The Rainbow Orchid was nominated for a 2013 award when it's been around far longer than that. Well, the award is for The Complete Rainbow Orchid, and that was not completed, published, or available until September 2012 - just within the timeframe for the 2013 awards.
2013 has been a very good year for good British comics. So many other books on the longlist could have been justifiably nominated, and decisions could have gone another way with just a sigh. I'm very grateful to the BCA committee for nominating me from a particularly strong pool of books, and I'm enormously grateful to all the school children and groups who took part in the tough decision of voting. And thank you very much indeed for the avalanche of tweets, emails and Facebook comments with congratulations that poured in over the weekend - I'm not going to lie, it means a lot to me.
The Complete Rainbow Orchid is the British Comic Awards winner of the Young People's Comic Award for 2013. Thank you!
René Goscinny, the original writer, died in 1977, his last book being Asterix in Belgium (posthumously published), after which the series artist, Albert Uderzo, took up the writing as well - often to mixed reaction.
While Hergé explicitly forbid Tintin to be continued by other hands after his death, there has been success with the continuation of Edgar P. Jacobs' Blake and Mortimer series with new creators, so the situation with Asterix is not new territory - though certainly Asterix is a bigger deal on the world stage than Blake and Mortimer.
Asterix and the Picts sees Asterix and Obelix (strangely, leaving Dogmatix at home) travel to Scotland after a Pict is washed up on the Gaulish beach, frozen in a giant pebble of ice. After thawing him out, they decide to return the Pict to his native land, and end up involving themselves in the task of rescuing his kidnapped fiancé, while also attempting to stop the local rotten clan chief from claiming himself as king.
The artwork can't be faulted, and reading the book I couldn't help but marvel at Conrad's imitation skills. There's some very nice stuff with Nessie, and I liked the fact that the fiancé in the story - even though she did need rescuing - was not the usual film-star blonde, but a slightly more down to earth depiction.
The story is fun and breezy but, apart from the setting, not much leaps out to make it particularly memorable. Perhaps, with Uderzo peering over their shoulders, the new creators decided to play things safe, or maybe it suffered slightly from no one wanting to make any radical suggestions or take any risks with this new venture (even though it could be 'anything goes' after the bizarre Falling Sky).
The plot felt a little stilted, but I wonder how much of that is my acute awareness of the new authors. I certainly didn't laugh as much as I usually do with Asterix, though there was humour enough, and the book didn't feel as sharply clever or witty as during the Golden age of Goscinny. I re-read Asterix in Britain afterwards, the Gauls' other visit to our shores, and it really sparkled, with a story that romped at a pace with plot twists and turns, and many good chuckles.
But overall I'm happy with Picts. It's better than some of the more recent books, and I think - I hope - that the creators will grow more confident, become less intimidated (as admitted), and loosen up a little with their new charges. And I hope Uderzo lets them. There's just enough here to feel optimistic about the future of Asterix.
I thought the best way to show you the iPad version of The Rainbow Orchid would be on video, so here's a little recording I made, plus a few screenshots.
Get Sequential for your iPad here (it's free).
All three volumes will be available separately (3.99 each) and you can also get The Complete Rainbow Orchid as a single comic (9.99).
But there's something special about the Sequential Complete edition! It includes all my story annotations from The Rainbow Orchid Supplement, available as a modal view that can pop up on the comic page at the touch of a button, making this a unique, perhaps even ultimate, edition.
I'll have more info next week.
Anyway, I want to thank all you readers for continuing to support my website, and my endeavours overall. Every web hit, email, comment, like and tweet is hugely appreciated and helps to keep me going in the face of the usual creative floundering that besets all comic creators at various times.
With that in mind, I will be announcing a very nice Rainbow Orchid competition sometime in the next couple of weeks - so keep your eye out for it.
In other news, those of you who keep up with the ligne claire scene in Europe may be aware of an exhibition taking place at the Cartoonmuseum in Basel, Switzerland, entitled The Adventures of the Ligne Claire - The Herr G. and Co. Affair.
There is a marvellous poster for it, by Exem, and as I'd only ever seen the one with the title on, I hadn't noticed that Julius Chancer has been generously included amongst the pantheon of ligne claire stars. He may be rather amusingly obscured in the final version, but I'm nonetheless chuffed to see him there at all (by the way, that's another Jules in the window next to him - the creation of Émile Bravo).
Many thanks to Ruwani Weerasinghe for noticing our British representative and letting me know! How many of the others can you name?
I'm not much a fan of the superhero genre of comics, though I did enjoy them for a short while - somewhere around 1980-1984, and in that time my favourite comic was The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez - I really loved it (Brother Blood! Trigon! The Brotherhood of Evil! Blackfire!).
Sometime later, in the 90s, I had a slight resurgence of interest and decided (as I then had a pay packet) to brush up my collection, which included going back to the original 1960s incarnation of the Teen Titans, and this is where I became aware of Nick Cardy's work. It was his covers that really astonished me - not only the drawing, but the composition and the design as well. To this day I have several of his covers on my wall, and I quickly added John Coates' book, The Art of Nick Cardy, to my library.
My favourite obscure Nick Cardy fact is that is that he added C3-PO and R2-D2 to Tom Jung's famous 1977 Star Wars film poster - a design later reworked by the brothers Hildebrandt. (Nick did many film posters himself, and there is also a sketchbook available of his war art).