In Italy, the Official Palmarès of Comicon Napoli 2023 took place over the weekend, with the group of prize-winning books containing a solid mix of work across ten award categories. Only three awardees have an English edition or translation available (or almost available).
Among the twelve awardees at Comicon Napoli 2023 was Andrea Sorrentino for Best Artwork [Miglior Disegno] with Primordial (written by Jeff Lemire and originally serialised in English by Image Comics); Manuele Fior receiving the prize for Best Script [Migliore Sceneggiatura] for Hypericon, which has a digital-only English translation by Europe Comics; and Marcello Quintanilha‘s multi-award winning 2021 French graphic novel Listen, Beautiful Marcia taking away Best Foreign Graphic Novel [Migliore Graphic Novel straniero] for its Italian translation – for which the English translation is due from Fantagraphics at the end of May.
The Official Palmarès of Comicon Napoli are comprised of two sets of awards – the Micheluzzi Awards which reward Italian authors and the Premi Comicon – or Comicon Awards – which are open to work not originated by Italian authorship. Comicon Napoli’s Micheluzzi Awards are named after the late Italian comic artist Attilio Micheluzzi and have taken place since 1998.
The jury selecting the winners at Comicon Napoli 2023 comprised of cartoonist Barbara Canepa, musician Caparezza, critic and art curator Elettra Stamboulis, Italian rock band Negrita singer of Pau (aka Paolo Bruni), and by actor/director Valerio Mastandrea.
Check out the full list of books below with synopses translated from Italian via DeepL.
MICHELUZZI AWARDS (Italian works)
BEST COMIC [Miglior Fumetto]
La gabbia [tr. The Cage], Silvia Ziche (Feltrinelli Comics)
A book about childhood trauma and the mother-daughter relationship
“One learns to suffer, and unhappiness is an art that one learns from an early age, thanks to the teaching of those who came before us. Ancestors, grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts wind their way in a procession from afar, each with their own burden, to those closest to us: the mother. A devaluing and glacial mother for Serena, the protagonist of this story based on the author’s own experience. In search of a form of salvation, Serena severs ties with her family, her past, her friends, the country of her childhood full of memories. Until that terrible mother dies and the daughter returns after a long absence. Without losing the irony and acumen typical of her style, Silvia Ziche measures herself with her first book outside the confines of humour, sharing a private story that is nevertheless capable of speaking to that defenceless part, hidden in many of us. A personal and universal story that combines drama and comedy, with a profound and touching analysis of the relationship between mother and daughter.”
BEST SCRIPT [Migliore Sceneggiatura]
Hypericon, Manuele Fior (Coconino Press) — English edition available digital only from Europe Comics
Europe Comics edition synopsis:
“It’s 2001, and Teresa, a young Italian suffering from insomnia and a generally fragile state of mind, has just arrived in Berlin with a grant to help organize an exhibit of Tutankhamen’s treasure. Though she finds support in Ruben, a fellow Italian expat, she struggles to keep it together. Her one anchor is reading Howard Carter’s book about his discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, finding solace in the Egyptologist’s writing and the thought of that noble young pharaoh resting undisturbed for three thousand years.”
BEST ARTWORK [Miglior Disegno]
Primordial, Andrea Sorrentino (Bao Publishing) — script by Jeff Lemire, this was first published as six-issue series and collected by Image Comics
BEST ITALIAN SERIES [Serie italiana]
Eternity #1, Alessandro Bilotta & Gerasi Sergio (Sergio Bonelli Editore)
“A Rome immersed in nostalgia is the backdrop for men and women seeking immortality, in this life or the next. Cinema, art, television, politics are worlds that make up a Babel within the City that promised to be Eternal.
“The search for a meaning to this existence is what drives a journalist from L’Infinito, the famous gossip weekly. He writes under the pseudonym Sant’Alceste, but his name is Alceste Santacroce and he knows how to walk through the indescribable. When he meets Lucrezia, one of the many souls in pain in a plastic paradise, he has to divide himself between the temptation to do his job and the temptation to love. But he cannot avoid being the unwilling guide to a place from which it is not easy to get out alive…”
BEST DEBUT WORK [Migliore Opera Prima]
Mor. Storia per le mie madri [tr. Mor – Story for My Mothers] , Sara Garagnani (Add Editore)
“Mor is a family portrait that unfolds through the history of four generations of women, between Sweden and Italy. As the events unfold, the author recounts how unprocessed traumas can be passed on from generation to generation, from mother to daughter, like a baton that passes from hand to hand. Psychological and sometimes physical violence spreads, generating depression, addictions, obsessions, blackmail, secrets… even generations apart. In the Swedish language ‘mor’ means mother, ‘mormor’ (mother’s mother) grandmother and so on: the word itself suggests recurrence. Sara Garagnani recounts this inheritance by tracing the history of her family, from her grandmother Inger to her mother Annette up to herself, in a cycle of emancipation and relapse sketched with lucidity but also with sincere affection. With constant visual inventiveness, punctual and never cold, the author gives us a tale that is at once analytical and intimate, reflective and passionate, sweet and bitter. A story that allows us to look at family wounds in a new light, and with a different lens: Mor is not the story ‘of my mothers’ but ‘for my mothers’.”
SPECIAL MENTION: Mia sorella è pazza [tr. My Sister is Crazy], Iris Blasio (Rizzoli Lizard)
“Rita Nocenti is crazy. Or so say those who know her and the records of the psychiatric clinic where she has been admitted. She has always been strange, now she is catatonic: she doesn’t speak, she moves little, she just smiles. She smiles all the time. The doctors have no idea what the cause of her mysterious illness is, nor do they know what treatment to follow. Her only link with the world is her sister Francesca, who stands by her despite the fact that they have always had a difficult relationship, even before the illness. One day, Francesca cuts herself while peeling an apple and, at the sight of blood, Rita stops smiling: it is from this episode that a chain of events and revelations with unexpected implications begins. But as Francesca says, ‘the symptom is but the summary of a story’: to discover the origin of this nameless sickness, it will be necessary to dig deep. The two sisters will have to go back over their experiences in a painful and illuminating series of flashbacks, in search of a common root, of a trauma that – in one fell swoop – has united and separated them forever. In this surprisingly mature debut, Iris Biasio reconstructs the house of cards of a tortuous, intense family history, overflowing with humanity.”
COMICON AWARDS [PREMI COMICON]
BEST CLASSIC EDITION [Miglior Edizione Classico]
Buon Natale! Corrierino. Il Natale a fumetti, nel secolo scorso [tr. Merry Christmas, Courier! Christmas in comics over the last century] (1908-1968) (ComicOut)
“What is more innocent than Christmastime and what is more cheerful and light-hearted than a comic strip? This book keeps these promises, but it also knows how to turn them upside down. We can thus discover that panettone has been a symbol of the holidays since 1908, along with the fir tree. That Christmas brings peace on earth, and also brings together characters of different authors and nationalities. That the Befana, if she brings coal, can also do it for good, when it is cold (and maybe the cost of gas increases). These little stories under the Christmas Tree can make us understand more than half a century of Italy. How differently two wars were experienced, or how differently propagandized. We can discover how the Befana then becomes a useless old woman, to be replaced by a young fascist Befana. We arrive at the post-World War II period and the release of women authors, now that they finally have the right to vote, and then at the economic boom and ’68. A journey through time through the pens of Italy’s greatest children’s authors and cartoonists.”
BEST FOREIGN GRAPHIC NOVEL [Migliore Graphic Novel straniero]
Ascolta, bellissima Marcia, Marcello Quintanilha; Italian trans. Roberto Francavilla & Elena Manzato (Coconino Press) — this notably won the Fauve d’Or at Angouleme 2022. The English translation – Listen, Beautiful Marcia – is out from Fantagraphics at the end of May.
BEST FOREIGN SERIES [Migliore Serie straniera]
Adabana – Fiori effimeri [tr. Adabana – Fleeting Flowers], Non; Italian trans. Asuka Ozumi (Dynit Manga)
“A banal provincial town is shocked by the gruesome murder of high school student Mako Igarashi. Her friend Mizuki Aikawa turns herself in to the police, pleading guilty. Something, however, does not add up… Reality is often quite different from how it appears and there are secrets to hide… who killed Mako?”
BEST WORK FOR YOUNG READERS [Giovani Letture] – Italian and Foreign Work Inclusive
Isa vince tutto [tr. Isa Wins All], Lorenzo Ghetti & Rita Petruccioli (Rulez)
“Patron of the arts and extraordinary collector, Isabella d’Este is one of the most famous figures of the Renaissance and Italian art history. But the Marchioness of Mantua is also Isa, the irresistible protagonist of this comic series that, with the flair of a restless teenager and the tools of a skilful contemporary influencer, lets us discover how she gained fame as the ‘First Woman of the World’.”
Caterina e i Capellosi [tr. Catherine and the Hairy Ones], Alessandro Tota (Canicola)
“When Caterina joins the Band of the Hairy Ones, she immediately becomes its leader, and throws herself into dangers and challenges, especially when fellow adventurer Gigetto gets into trouble. Together with Manuel they will overcome tests of courage, from crossing the Stinky Man’s Forest, to the affront of Mister Rich, because in front of a friend in danger it is impossible to back down! Suitable for readers aged 8 and above.”
NEW ROADS [Nuove Strade] – Best Self or Small-Published
Confini [tr. Borders], Mario Damiano, Andrea De Franco, Federica Ferraglia, and Adriana Marineo; edited by Miguel Angel Valdivia (Monitor edizioni)
An anthology of four stories around the theme of borders, walls or boundaries.
“The lost traces of a reception and identification camp for migrants. The odyssey of a young student in the tomato fields where the bosses rule. The risky explorations of a group of kids beyond an old suburban wall. The dreams of a dog and its owner in a strange museum of contemporary art.
“Borders is the title of the book containing these stories, but it is not a thematic book in the strict sense. Borders is rather a key word, which served as a starting point for us to start a common work, without any other limits, precisely, concerning approach, style. The only thing I asked of the authors was not to make the stories pure fantasy.”