At the 20th Erlangen International Comic Salon, Birgit Weyhe was awarded a Max and Moritz Prize for the best German-language comic artist. The artist, who lives in Hamburg, is also represented with a work show at the festival, which lasts until Sunday. The prizes were awarded in nine categories on Friday evening.
“Birgit Weyhe is interested in what drives people, how they became what they are – regardless of what culture they come from, what skin color they have or how old they are,” said the laudator, the journalist Andrea Heinze, at the award ceremony on Friday night. “This is unique in the German comic landscape.”
In addition, Weyhe’s work is characterized by a very artistic visual language: “Just the way she draws birds is an art in itself: some soar into the air as if they were the embodiment of freedom. Others cower on the ground as if they haven’t discovered their potential yet. And still others are so torn and torn that it is clear: This being was violent. Metaphors like these make Birgit Weyhe’s comics incredibly dense.”
Birgit Weyhe also drew for the Tagesspiegel for a number of years, her collected Sunday strips were published as a book two years ago under the title “Lebenslinien”. In addition, in her books she has dealt, among other things, with the situation of Mozambican contract workers* in Germany (“Madgermanes”), repeatedly with her own family history (“Im Himmel ist Jahrmarkt”) and in her most recent book with the unusual life story of the US Professor Priscilla Layne (“Rude Girl”).
The Max and Moritz Prize, on whose jury the author of this article, who was the presenter at the Comic Salon this year, sat until 2018, is considered the most important German-language comic award and is awarded every two years.
The book “Work-Life-Balance” by Aisha Franz was awarded the best German-language comic. In it, the Berlin artist deals with the abysses of the modern working world in a satirically exaggerated way.
“Your narration is fast-paced, the drawings are stylized, dynamic, full of weird details and wonderfully colored,” says the laudatory speech. “Work-life balance” is “an exciting pleasure in which contemporary criticism, satire and the desire to tell stories are perfectly balanced.”
Best International Comic was Steven Appleby’s queer superhero story Dragman. In it, the British author tells the story of August Crimp, father of a family and passionate, albeit clandestine, wearer of women’s clothing, which gives him superpowers.
Among other things, the jury praised the “brilliant story in which Steven Appleby cheerfully mixes genres and links plots”. “Dragman” is “a grandiose superhero comic beyond all clichés and stereotypes.” Appleby’s book was also voted best comic of the year by the Tagesspiegel authors’ jury in 2021, more about that here.
The illustrated collection of essays “In the Hall of Mirrors” by Liv Strömquist was honored as the best non-fiction comic. In it, the Swedish feminist, to whom an exhibition is currently being dedicated in Erlangen, ponders, among other things, the social understanding of beauty and analyzes the power of increasingly digital images in an entertaining and intelligent way.
“Liv Strömquist’s comic essays are scientifically based, drawn stand-up comedy with a punk twist, or cultural studies essays with a sharp sense of humour, which enlighten, inform and also splendidly entertain and come up with amazing insights and connections,” said the jury.
The book “Trip mit Tropf” by Josephine Mark was awarded the best comic for children. The Leipzig artist had already received another prize the night before, more on that below.
“Trip mit Tropf” tells of the adventurous road trip of a rabbit with cancer, who is accompanied by a wolf. The book shows “how warm-heartedly and cautiously and at the same time extremely amusingly one can deal with the difficult topic of illness,” says the laudatory speech.
This year’s new prize for the best German-language comic debut went to three titles: the queer science fiction story “Melek ich” by Lina Ehrentraut, the work “Pfostenloch” by Daniela Heller, which will soon be published by avant-Verlag, which deals with the everyday life of a group of young archaeologists, as well as the musician biography “Who’s the Scatman?” by Jeff Chi.
The jury’s special prize went to the art historian Alexander Braun, who has made a name for himself with large exhibitions on various facets of comic history as well as opulent catalogs with well-founded texts.
“Alexander Braun is a great analyst who repeatedly shows in his books and exhibitions how personal circumstances, personality and work are connected,” wrote jury member Andrea Heinze in her laudatory speech. “In this way, he authors authoritative works in comic history and opens up new perspectives on cultural history that are relevant and perceived far beyond the comic scene.”
The audience award, which was determined by public voting on the Internet, went to the book “Lisa und Lio” by Daniela Schreiter.
In the book, which is primarily aimed at children, the Berlin author conveys in an entertaining way what characterizes the everyday life of people with autism. Schreiter has Asperger’s autism and has previously worked on the topic in her series “Schattenspringer”.
The special prize for outstanding life’s work was awarded this year to the Japanese Naoki Urasawa. He has created numerous popular manga series including Monster, 20th Century Boys, Pluto, and Billy Bat. His new series “Asadora!” just started, in which he mixes contemporary history with the fantastic.
“Naoki Urasawa is a gifted narrator who often bases his stories on relevant social, political and contemporary themes – and always adds historical speculation and a fantastic, supernatural level to this realistic basis,” said the jury member in the laudatory speech Christian Gasser.
The independent comic prizes of the Comic Interest Association (ICOM) had already been awarded the evening before.
The Best Independent Comic (Self-Published) category went to Jürgen “Geier” Speh’s “The Most Dangerous Game,” an adaptation of a 1924 short story by Richard Connell.
“A comic work that is well worth reading and, above all, worth seeing, which not least impresses with an artwork that is based on the style of illustrations in old pulp magazines, but without letting the clear light-dark modeling get out of hand unnecessarily or in to succumb to the glorification of overly sexist and heroic images,” said jury member Dirk Seliger in his laudatory speech.
The first book by Josephine Mark (“Trip mit Tropf”), namely the existential western story “Murr”, was awarded as the best independent comic (publishing publication).
“The characters are precisely drawn and reflect a whole universe of expressions,” says Sandra Nußer’s laudatory speech, who also praises the series for “wit, charm, heart and depth”.
The ICOM special prize for a special publication goes to Oliver Ottisch’s short comic collection “Love is stronger than death”, which is infused with black humour.
“With an outrageously cheeky and cheerfully drawn lightness, Mr. Ottitsch plunges the tools of the living into a traumatic fantasy world populated by copulating zombies in the dead light milieu, subtle executioners, people-crushing trees and bony taxi drivers,” writes Sandra Nußer in her laudatory speech.
Another comic prize was then awarded at the Comic Salon on Saturday evening: The Ginco Award. Ginco stands for “German Inclusive / Independent Comic”.
The award for best webcomic went to Lisa Fruehbeis’s “DerZeit / A fraction of Time”, which was published by the Goethe-Institut Korea in 2021 as part of the “Scroll down to proceed – female lives in webcomics” project.
Lisa Frühbeis also worked for the Tagesspiegel for a number of years.
The Ginco Award for Best Print Comic went to “Vasja, dein Opa”, in which the author Anna Rakhmanko tells of the fate of her family under Stalin, visually implemented by Mikkel Sommer. Here is the Tagesspiegel review of the book.
Tor Freeman’s The Lake Oddleigh Monster won the Best Children’s Book category. The comic was published in German in the children’s comic magazine “Polle”.
“Warnebi” by Wiebke Bolduan received the Ginco Award for best self-published comic. More about the winning titles and all nominations on the Ginco website.