Ficomic, the organizing entity of the Barcelona Comic Fair, has finally come to terms, after two days of silence, of the controversy generated by the awarding of its main prize to the editor and popularizer of the genre Antonio Martín (Seville, 1939). The announcement that Martín was the winner of the Salon’s Grand Prize in its 39th edition, held virtually, provoked the protest of cartoonists and screenwriters who, in a manifesto, already signed by more than 300, considered that the rules had been breached as the winner was not a comic book author and they also recalled that the winner had censored a young cartoonist in the past. In a note that has just been made public, Ficomic flies over the controversy, defends the bases of the award and endorses the responsibility of what has happened to the jury.
The organizers do not enter into the essence of the controversy or explain what position they will adopt in the face of the threat of the cartoonists and scriptwriters who signed the manifesto of not participating in future editions if the award is not withdrawn from Martín.
Martín, then editorial director of Planeta-DeAgostini Cómics, denounced a young author, David Ramírez, in 2000 for publishing a comic that he considered offensive. The cartoon joked about Martín’s bad relationship with Cels Piñol, the author of Fanhunter.
When awarding the prize to Martín, the contest valued his long publishing career and highlighted that the winner “has dedicated his life to comics, being the author of pioneering articles and books on comics and becoming a benchmark” in comic research ”.
In their statement, the signatories, including Albert Monteys, Paco Roca, Alfonso Zapico, Ana Penyas, David Aja, David Rubín, Flavita Banana, Javier Olivares, Miguel Gallardo, Santiago Sequeiros or Santiago García, repudiated the Grand Prize awarded by the jury from Ficomic to Martín, and they asked the organization to withdraw it and grant it “to a person who meets the requirements and has sufficient merits.”
“The Barcelona Comic Awards”, the Ficomic response note now points out, “were established to recognize the work of the different professionals who work in the sector and have bases that are public and are guarantors of their transparency. To decide the award winners, FIcomic delegates this work each year to a jury made up of accredited people from different fields and voices in the world of comics, who act with total independence of judgment and assessment ”.
Ficomic details in the note the composition of this year’s jury: Antonio Altarriba (Gran Premio Cómic Barcelona 2019), Ana Galvañ (author), Cristina Hombrados (Association of Critics and Publicists of Comics of Spain), Ulises P. López (Association of Authors of Cómic de España), Albert Mestres (specialized bookseller, Continuarà Còmics), Álvaro Pons (Director of the Chair of Comic Studies at the University of València and comics critic), Marika Vila (author, editorial and theoretical technique of the comic strip) and Antoni Guiral (critic, editor, comic book writer and exhibition curator at Comic Barcelona). “The decisions made by the jury complied with the current rules of the awards,” emphasizes Ficomic.
The organizing entity, the note continues, “wants to thank all the proposals that it has received so far for the improvement of the awards, it will study them and, as it does every year, will incorporate those novelties that contribute to the dissemination of the work of all the professionals of the world of comics and to add new readers ”.
Ficomic, recalls the document, “is a non-profit federation made up of representatives of the publishers, booksellers and distributors unions in Catalonia that was created in 1988 with the aim of promoting, disseminating and expanding the comic book readership.” And he adds that the Salón del Cómic (Cómic Barcelona) “has become one of the reference fairs in the sector where more than 100,000 readers have the opportunity to connect each year with the authors who participate directly in the show and with a wide exposition of the richness and cultural and editorial diversity that surrounds the world of comics ”.
The organizers conclude: “We want to value the work of Ficomic in these years by being next to the authors, listening and supporting the profession; and we continue and we will continue working on it, through dialogue and building bridges of collaboration ”.