Urhunden: the Best of 2009

Posted by on September 20th, 2010 at 11:17 AM

The character Urhunden, by OA.

Every year since 1987, the Swedish Comics Association awards the best original Swedish graphic novel or comics collection and the best translated graphic novel or comics collection with the prestigious Urhunden (The Proto Dog). The award was named after the character that can be seen above, a strange creature, half dog/half dinosaur and created by the inimitable OA (Oskar Andersson) – one of the most prominent and influential Swedish cartoonists of the early era.

The first volume of Frances, by Joanna Hellgren.

The winner of the award for the best Swedish graphic novel was Frances vol 1 by Joanna Hellgren. This was Hellgren’s book début (in Sweden that is, she already had two books out in France) and it was a stunning display of mastery of both form and story from such a young artist. The jury’s motivation for its choice was:

Joanna Hellgren Frances vol. 1 receives Urhunden 2010 for its unique artistic expression and superb feel for the storytelling technique of comics, which together creates a seamless narrative. The depictions of the characters are credible and engaging, down to the smallest supporting role.

The translated version of the graphic novel Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel.

The winner of the award for best translated graphic novel was the American Alison Bechdel’s Husfrid (originally Fun Home). This is, for those of you who haven’t read it yet, a beautiful story of growing up and realizing things about yourself as well as about your family. Beautifully told and one of my personal, all time favourite graphic novels. The jury’s motivation for its choice was:

Alison Bechdels Fun Home is an epic family story. The portrayal of the creator’s father and her relationship to him is intellectual and literary, while remaining both engaging and humane. A graphic novel in the true sense of the term.

Stefan Diös, as drawn by Hanna Strömberg

Since 1994, there is also an award for people who have worked to promote the reading of comics among younger readers, the so called Unghunden (The Young Dog) and that was this year given to the translator Stefan Diös (who has translated almost all issues of the, in Sweden, still very popular weekly Donald Duck magazine since 1985). The portrait, by the way, was drawn by Hanna Strömberg.

The jury’s motivation for its choice was:

Stefan Diös translates with great love and commitment. He shows respect for both the readers and for the members of Duckburg. Through more than two decades, he has reached several generations of readers and made an invaluable effort to cultivate and protect the Swedish language.

I have been a member of the jury since the middle of the 1990s and have always been happy with the choices we have made, but maybe even more so this year. I especially like the fact that Stefan Diös, who for generations has been influential when it comes to making sure that young readers are treated to a good language, finally receives the recognition he deserves.

The award ceremony will take place this Saturday at a quarter past three in the afternoon on the brand new comics scene at the big book fair in Gothenburg. Master of the award ceremony will be the inimitable history professor Dick Harrison.

The full press release (in Swedish) can be found here. I also published the full list of nominees a while ago.

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