The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are a set of awards for excellence in literature held annually since 1980. They are given to books published in the United States within the previous calendar year by a living author(s). Winners receive a citation and $500 for each category. The finalists for each category were announced recently, and the Graphic Novel category, the newest to be added to the prestigious prizes, has an impressive line-up. The Comics Observer looks at each Graphic Novel finalist in the build-up to tonight’s award ceremony.
Garden by Yuichi Yokoyama, as described by publisher PictureBox: “A group of friends is attempting to enter a garden just beyond a wall. When they succeed, the garden they finally enter is no Eden, but rather a massive landscape of machines, geometric forms and all manner of nonorganic objects. To his signature vivid visual style, Yokoyama has added more dialogue than in past works, fleshing out the characters and allowing them equal billing with his spectacular architectural creations.” Garden is the only manga on the list of Graphic Novel Finalists for this year (no manga last year). The story is essentially an excuse for Yuichi Yokoyama to draw whatever crazy thing he wants, as the reader is taken on a tour of a hyper-kinetic landscape with man-made objects intruding on nature.
For better insight on what makes Garden so special, check out Sean T. Collins’ interview with Yuichi Yokayama about the book and some of his past work, along with previewing six pages of Garden. There’s also a solid review by Douglas Wolk on TIME’s Techland blog which explains Yokoyama’s unconventional approach to storytelling, adamantly refusing to provide answers to his mysteries or much, if any, character development.
Three years in and the LA Times Book Prize has yet to award the Graphic Novel category to manga. As mentioned, there was no manga Finalists last year. In 2009, the first year for the Graphic Novel category, Taiyo Matsumoto’s GoGo Monster, published by VIZ Media, was named as a Finalist. Also a Finalist in 2009 was Bryan Lee O’Malley’s heavily manga-influenced Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (published by Oni Press). Neither won that year. Tonight we’ll find out if Garden will be the first manga to win the Graphic Novel LA Times Book Prize.
The LA Times Festival of Books is ramping up for this year’s event, one of the country’s largest free outdoor book fairs. Last week, a press release announced the finalists for the 32nd Annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which are given out on the eve of the Festival. Last Friday, the Festival’s website and social media once again came to life to announce that the 17th Annual Festival of Books will be held April 21 and 22 on the campus of the University of Southern California. The Book Prizes award ceremony will be held in USC’s Bovard Auditorium on Friday night, April 20.
The LA Times Book Prizes have been awarded every year since 1980, but it wasn’t until 2009 that a graphic novel category was added. This third year of the graphic novel category has the following five finalists:
- I Will Bite You! And Other Stories by Joseph Lambert (Secret Acres Books)
- Celluloid by Dave McKean (Fantagraphics Books)
- Finder: Voice by Carla Speed McNeil (Dark Horse Comics)
- Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics Books)
- Garden by Yuichi Yokoyama (PictureBox)
Finalists and winners of the LA Times Book Prizes are selected by a panel of three judges per genre. The panels are made up of writers who specialize in each genre. Tickets for the Book Prizes ceremony will be available for purchase at 10 a.m. Monday, March 26. Once again Geoff Boucher of the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog will be presenting the Book Prize for the Graphic Novel category. Look for more on each of the finalists here at The Comics Observer in the weeks and months leading up to the ceremony.
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books began in 1996 and typically attracts about 140,000 people every year. Just as comics and graphic novels have been embraced by libraries and book stores over the last decade, so too has their presence increased at the Festival. This year will surely include plenty of writers, artists and other comics creators and publishers. A list of authors attending the Festival has already been posted and will be updated as more are confirmed. Already spotted are writers Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes and the upcoming The Year of the Beasts) and Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), and writer/artist Jim Woodring (Congress of the Animals, Weathercraft)