22 Years of the Bédélys Awards
Created by the organization Promo 9e Art (founded by François Mayeux, Johanne Théroux, Marc de Roussan, and Bertrand Picard), since 1999 the Bédélys Awards have recognized the work of exceptional comic book creators, including both Quebecois and international authors. The central goal of the Bédélys Awards remains the same as always: The recognize and reward the comic arts in Québec, which have historically not received the attention they deserve. With this in mind, particular attention has always been paid to the accessibility of books in the Québec marketplace: All works nominated for a Bédélys Award must be available to the Québec public and easily accessible.
One of the objectives of the Bédélys Awards is to stimulate the interest of readers by way of an increased media presence for all the nominated creators. Since 2012, the Awards have been given at a ceremony presented during the annual Montreal Comic Arts Festival in May.
2019, a Year of Transition
In 2019, Promo 9e Art was dissolved, and the management of the Bédélys Awards was left to the Montreal Comic Arts Festival. A period of reflection followed, looking into the ongoing pertinence of the Awards, with the goal of updating the selection criteria. The overall mission of the Bédélys Awards remains the same: To promote the comic arts, to highlight the efforts of local publishing houses and the entire community of Quebecois cartoonists, and to support and promote those artists who take the plunge into self-publishing. In addition to the trophies and prize money received, the winner of the Bédélys Québec Award is also offered the chance to create the poster art for the subsequent year, as well as an exposition of their work at the following MCAF. Additionally, the two winners of the Bédélys Independent Awards—Francophone and Anglophone—are also invited to create promotional artwork for the following year’s call for submissions.
The Bédélys Awards are currently separated into five distinct prizes: Bédélys International, Bédélys Youth, and Bédélys Québec (all presented since 1999), as well as the Bédélys Independent Francophone (since 2008) and Bédélys Independent Anglophone (since 2020). Some of these prizes have changed their names over the course of the year, including awards such as Bédélys Gold, Bédélys Discovery, and Bédélys Trémolo, to name a few. Since 2009, the trophies for the prizes have been hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind creations made from recycled materials by the artist Karl Dupéré-Richer.
Formerly called Bédélys World, the Bédélys International rewards the best French-language comic book created outside Quebec.
This category, which makes it possible to discover and take a critical look at the best international comics, includes works that must be available in French in Quebec during the year preceding the awards ceremony. The works are evaluated by a jury composed of readers who work in the publishing industry, including librarians, booksellers, publishers and other book professionals. Works are considered on a variety of criteria, including originality, quality of the storytelling, readability, and coherence between art and text. The list of finalists aims to represent the diversity of authors of a range of origins as well as a range of genres and styles.
In brief, the Bédélys International Award seeks to broaden the horizons of Québec’s readers and to engage with the comic arts from all around the world.
The Bédélys Youth Award rewards the best French-language comic book intended for young readers aged 7 to 14. Under the direction of librarians, the juries for the Youth Award are composed of young comic book enthusiasts who regularly visit one of the participating libraries (this year’s libraries are Prévost, Père-Ambroise, and Marc-Favreau),members of the City of Montreal Library Network, which have been a proud partner of the Bédélys Awards for over 20 years.
The Bédélys Youth Award also has an educational element, exposing a young readership to the comic arts, enriching their relationship with the library system, and hopefully creating future ambassadors for the “9th Art.”
To be considered, books must be available in Québec and in the French language, and must be intended for readers from the ages of 7-14. While initial books in a series are eligible, subsequent volumes in the same series are not.
This pair of awards rewards the best self-published comic books produced in Quebec, with a separate award for works in French and English. The winners of the Bédélys Independent Awards receive a $1,000 grant and share a table offered by the Montreal Comic Arts Festival during the following year’s event. The works are evaluated by a jury composed of readers who work in the publishing industry, including librarians, booksellers, publishers and other book professionals.
This award, which specifically rewards independent creators, responds to the desire to spotlight those artists who self-publish their work. In consideration that these creators lack the support of traditional publishing, the Bédélys Awards consider it essential to serve as an axis of connection between these self-published works and the public. By presenting separate awards for both French- and English-language works, the Bédélys Independent Awards also serve to integrate Québec’s artistic communities, with the goal of encouraging an vigorous and healthy exchange between these linguistic groups.
The Bédélys Québec Award rewards the best comic book published in Québec.
The award is accompanied by a prize of $1,000. To be considered for the prize, the book must be released by a Québecois publisher, intended for an audience of 15 years or older, and at least one member of the creative team (artist and/or illustrator) must be a legal resident of Québec.
To May and Beyond
Despite the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic, the Montreal Comic Arts Festival is continuing with plans to celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2021 with a hybrid event. This will include the Bédélys Awards ceremony, which will again be presented as an online event.
While we eagerly await our eventual return to La Fontaine Park, we have lots of surprises in store for May and all year long.