For three years, BNP Paribas (Suisse) has been working alongside the Department of Public Education, Training and Youth (Département de l’instruction publique, de la formation et de la jeunesse – DIP) in the canton of Geneva to explore the amazing variety of comic books in French-speaking Switzerland.
This year, three finalists stood out in particular owing to the topics they deal with.
An award promoting the amazing variety of comic books in French-speaking Switzerland
The BD Zoom Award aims above all to encourage reading among young people in French-speaking Switzerland, while casting a spotlight on the rather unique format of comic books.
“It is an incredible public-private partnership that is extremely beneficial,” stated Nadia Keckeis from the DIP.
Over the past few months, secondary school students in the canton of Geneva have had the opportunity to meet and interact with authors, and to read and critique their work. After studying their work, the students shortlisted three comics:
- TED, drôle de coco by Émilie Gleason (Atrabile)
- The End by Zep (Rue de Sèvres)
- Acouphènes by Maurane Mazars (AGPI)
The three authors visited classrooms across Geneva to talk to students about their comics and the job of a comic book author and storyteller. The conversations were just as rewarding for the students as for the authors – a reminder that books are created with and by the reader.
Zep added, “20 years ago, no-one would have asked me into classes to promote reading. They would have invited a novelist.”
Championing difference, recognising unhappiness and raising awareness about protecting the environment
The finalists covered major, yet very different, topics ranging from autism and the existential quest to the importance of protecting the environment. However, they all shared one common theme: loneliness.
Émilie Gleason explains why she decided to focus on autism as the main subject of her work: “After studying for five years, I felt it important to speak about a serious and personal topic. I wanted to share my family’s experience, but using humour rather than pathos.”
Also drawing inspiration from her personal experience, Maurane Mazars speaks about her hero, Piet, who suffers from anxiety and lives and breathes music. “This comic is inspired partly by my own experience, but transposed into another context: music”.
For Zep, The End stems from an African story about antelopes being poisoned by trees that were defending themselves against a growing antelope population. This story was a factor that prompted research into the intelligence of trees. It inspired him to write a fictional story that sometimes bears a close resemblance to reality.
TED, a firm favourite among the young audience…
Around 300 students were given the opportunity to attend a meet-and-greet with the three finalists at the Geneva Book Fair. The authors fielded questions in a Q&A session and even sketched out a few comic strips for the audience. At the end of the event, the students chose their favourite comic from the three finalists.
The BD Zoom 2019 Award was presented to Émilie Gleason for Ted, drôle de coco in the presence of Anne Emery-Torracinta, State Councillor responsible for the DIP and Igor Joly, delegate general of the BNP Paribas Swiss Foundation.
…And BNP Paribas in Switzerland’s employees
BNP Paribas in Switzerland staff also participated in the students’ BD Zoom Award activities. After finding out which three comics had been shortlisted, they selected their own favourite comic book last Thursday after a special meeting with the three authors.
As was the case for the students, Émilie Gleason’s comic TED, drôle de Coco was the most popular among staff.
They were moved by the young author’s story and the messages conveyed through her comic strip.
This meeting between staff and authors inspired some animated discussion. One colleague at BNP Paribas in Switzerland said, “In addition to introducing us to books that we would not otherwise look for, the BD Zoom Award allowed us to get to know the authors and have a real dialogue with them.”