Taiwanese comic book artist wins major European competition

09/11/2021 06:02 PM
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Artist Wu Shih-hung stands in front of a drawing taken from his book at the award ceremony in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Fisfisa Media
Artist Wu Shih-hung stands in front of a drawing taken from his book at the award ceremony in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Fisfisa Media

Taipei, Sept. 11 (CNA) Taiwanese Wu Shih-hung (吳識鴻) on Friday was awarded the top prize in a prestigious competition in Brussels for comic book artists.

With that win, Wu became the first non-European to win the Prix Raymond Leblanc (Raymond Leblanc Prize), which was started in 2007 and has since become the most lucrative comic book prize in Europe.

His unpublished comic book, titled "Storms over Hills and Ocean" (山風海雨), is based on an essay by the late Taiwanese writer Yang Mu (楊牧) in a book by the same name.

In the essay, Yang reflected on a magnitude 7 earthquake that hit eastern Taiwan's Hualien and Taitung in 1951, and he profiled the people and villages in that area at the time.

"Wu's work is unique and original. His style, in line with the great European and Asian masters, makes the best of the two graphic languages," the jury said, commending Wu for his integration of Chinese water and ink techniques and water coloring.

Taiwanese Wu Shih-hung (right) receives the Raymond Leblanc Prize from Rudi Vervoort, the Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region. Photo courtesy of Fisfisa Media
Taiwanese Wu Shih-hung (right) receives the Raymond Leblanc Prize from Rudi Vervoort, the Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region. Photo courtesy of Fisfisa Media

The jury said they were convinced by the "great artistic maturity" of the project, although it was Wu's first comic book. Wu, 40, "is no newcomer to drawing, having worked for animation studios for 20 years," the jury noted.

According to the Raymond Leblanc Prize website, the winner will receive 10,000 euros (US$11,825) paid outright, 10,000 euros in advance on all types of rights, and 10 percent of the copyright royalties on the selling price of the published work.

"Winning a prize for my first comic work is like receiving a message to 'go give it a try again,'" Wu told CNA in an interview.

Wu said when he first read the essay, he had no idea how to adapt it for a comic book, but as he dug deeper with additional research, he started to gain some insights into Yang's writing.

"Understanding (the writer's) approach in the original work helped me to draw on the emotions in the essay when I started creating the comic book," Wu said.

Wu's book, set in the scenic mountainous and coastal areas of Hualien, is expected to be released in Chinese and French, now that it has won the Raymond Leblanc Prize, according to Taipei-based Fisfisa Media, which represents the artist.

Photo courtesy of Fisfisa Media
Photo courtesy of Fisfisa Media

On Saturday, Taiwan's Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te (李永得) congratulated Wu on his win and thanked the artist for elevating Taiwan's image on the world stage.

Wu's work highlights the unique possibility of combining comics and literature, Lee said, according to a statement released Saturday by his ministry.

The prize is awarded by the Association Raymond Leblanc, which is named after the publisher of a famous European comic series that featured the cartoon character Tintin.

(By Wang Hsin-yu and Kay Liu)

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A page from Wu
A page from Wu's unpublished book. Image courtesy of Fisfisa Media
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