Contests and Awards

And upon closer examination, one’s appreciation increases in proportion to the award,” runs a verse by Wilhelm Busch, the father of comics. In the comic scene, contests and awards are seldom accompanied by high remuneration. The award winner’s public profile is high – and often long-lasting.

The Erlangen Grand Prix

Max und Moritz-Preis © Comicsalon Erlangen

Erlangen’s Max and Moritz Award is given biennially in the context of the International Comic Salon. It is regarded as the most important distinction for graphic literature in the German-language cultural area. The award, whose title references a story by Wilhelm Busch, has been given since 1984, and is sponsored by Bulls Press in Frankfurt am Main. Twenty titles are nominated for the award. A jury of experts made up of journalists, comic experts and publishers chooses the winner. Awards are given in the categories of the best German-language comic (with a purse of 5,000 €), best comic strip, best comic artist, best children’s comic, and best international comic. There is a special award for an artist’s outstanding life-time achievement and for the best student comic (1,000 € purse). In addition, an audience prize is awarded. .

Alternative scene

ICOM PreisStarting in 1994, the Independent Comic-Preis has been awarded by the Association of Comic Artists (Interessenverband Comic e. V., ICOM) every two years. The award’s purpose is to recognise current publications and works by artists who move beyond the pale of established publishers. The artists must submit their works themselves. The jury is made up of comic artists, publishers and representatives of the association. The award has a total purse of 2,000 €. The best independent comic, short comic, outstanding scenario and outstanding artwork are honoured. Web comics are also eligible for these distinctions. In addition, there are two special jury prizes – for a publication or for a special achievement.

Munich accents

Munich’s Comicpreis Peng! was initiated in 2005. The non-endowed award is given in a total of nine categories. In addition to the best German, European, American and online comics, mangas and professional literature, comic publications and the best comic filming are honoured. A jury of experts selects the award winners with the support of the online platforms and The manga awardees are determined by the online members of

Frankfurt Book Fair’s audience award

The Sondermann is the best-known audience prize nationwide. The non-endowed award, named after a comic character by Bernd Pfarr, is given at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and is partnered by the Frankfurter Rundschau, the Fachportal Comicforum and Spiegel Online. Nominations are based on sales figures; the audience then votes in the Internet in four categories; comics, mangas, cartoons and web comics. A jury awards the special prizes Newcomer 2010 and Bernd-Pfarr-Sondermann für Komische Kunst. Artists who have won the Sondermann at least three times are also taken up into the Sondermann Hall of Fame and are granted life-time free entry to the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Promoting young talent

The Deutsche Cartoonpreis was started in 2006 by the Frankfurt Book Fair and Carlsen Verlag to promote up-and-coming talent. New talents who have not yet published a cartoon book can submit a one-picture comic on a given theme. Twenty cartoons are selected from the approx. 300 submissions, and a six-member jury then makes its selection: 1,000 € are awarded for first prize, 500 € for second prize and 250 € for third prize. All nominated works are exhibited in the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Comic Centre.

Winged pencils for sharp pens

The Deutscher Karikaturenpreis awards a total of 10,000 €. The award was begun in 2000 by the Sächsische Zeitung with the purpose of heightening the cartoon genre’s profile. The artists must submit a work on a given theme. A nine-member jury consisting of experts on the German-language cultural and media landscape and the previous year’s winners decides who will be awarded the “Winged Pencil” in gold (5,000 €), silver (3,000 €), and bronze (2,000 €). The best submissions are presented in the Dresdner Haus der Presse, and a catalog is issued with selected works and artist portraits.

Distinction for lifetime achievement

The e.o.plauen-Preis seeks to keep alive the memory of the artist of Vater und Sohn (i.e. father and son) E.O.Plauen (actually Erich Ohser), who was born in 1905 and took his own life after being arrested by the Gestapo in 1944. The 5,000 € art prize is awarded to a living artist for his or her work as a whole. The 2,000 € promotion prize is awarded to a young artist (under 35). The prizes are awarded separately at three-year intervals. An exhibition with works by the award winner accompanies the award.

Rieke C. Harmsen
is an art historian and editor of the Evangelischer Pressedienst (Protestant press service, epd) in Munich

Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
January 2012

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