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The British Comic Awards 2013: Young People's Comic Award
Monday 25 November 2013
On Friday 22 November I travelled up to Leeds for the British Comic Awards' Young People's Comic Award ceremony, which took place at Leeds Town Hall. I'd been enormously surprised to find myself nominated alongside four excellent books: Cindy and Biscuit by Dan White, Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson, Playing Out by Jim Medway, and The Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz.
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!

Reports:

The Comics Reporter

The Beat

Forbidden Planet International

Digital Spy

Edit: Here's a blog post about the YPCA voting process up at Forbidden Planet International blog.

posted 25.11.13 at 1:09 pm in Julius Chancer | permalink |


Comments:

Colin M, on Monday 25 November 2013 at 9:21 pm, says:

Yahoo Garen, well done! You're right to be chuffed, it does mean a lot, especially voted for by the readers themselves. We toasted your sucess with a cup of tea and cake at Thought Bubble - sorry Dave had your slice!

Garen, on Tuesday 26 November 2013 at 6:18 pm, says:

Lovely - thank you, Colin. So, Dave owes me a slice of cake ... brilliant :-)

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