Art of Animation

‘The outrage had been percolating…’ The winner of our graphic short story prize 2021 | Comics and graphic novels

TThere can be little more to cheer up a dark January night than having to tell someone they’ve won an award, and when I call Astrid Goldsmith to give her a little bit of good news, her reaction is everything I could hope for. Will be. For a while, Goldsmith, an animator who lives in Folkestone where she makes stop-motion films in her garage, struggles to speak in full sentences. She is just overjoyed. “This is the greatest compliment,” she says, when I tell her that her story, Funeral in FreiburgThis year’s winner ForemanJonathan Cape’s Illustrated Short Story Award, remember the work of that genius Pussy Symonds. “I love her tone. I always have.”

Goldsmith’s entry is based on a real event: her paternal grandmother’s funeral in Germany in 2015. “The anger has been going on for a while,” she says with a laugh. “But I only came to write it after the birth of my first child, while I was breastfeeding: I drew it all on one of those trays that disabled people use in bed.” Her story revolves around the difficulties involved in organizing a Jewish funeral in a place – Freiburg, in the Black Forest – where a rabbi was imprisoned for embezzlement, and a Jewish cemetery was filled. The responsible woman, very difficult, refuses even to believe that Gisela Goldschmidt was really Jewish (at the age of 18, Astrid’s grandmother fled from Germany to Zimbabwe, and did not return until after the end of the war). Its rules and regulations, not to mention its insistence on performing certain rituals, infuriates the goldsmith’s family. But what choice do they have? It’s a matter of her method, or no proper funeral at all.

Our regular judges – Dan Franklin, publisher of Jonathan Cape’s graphic novels slate, Susan Dean, creative director of Vintage, Paul Gravett, who runs the Comedy Festival, and Really Judgment You – joined this year by Alison Bechdale, author of the acclaimed book (among the graphic novels). other) fun house, and Samira Ahmed, journalist and presenter at BBC Radio 4 front row. Our decision was unanimous. Goldsmith’s rich, funny, and lively story is not only beautifully drawn; Its subject matter, while very private, also has a universality that speaks to the past couple of years, a period during which many of us had to organize funerals remotely. “It’s weird,” says Goldsmith, who took a master’s degree in animation at Norwich School of Art, and has worked at it ever since. “Death is very rude and emotional, yet you are also greeted with this bureaucracy. If you are lucky, the people who help you will be great. But our experience was not really; when we came back to Germany to anchor the stone a year later, it was just as bad.”

She says there is a lot to be said about the whole experience, and now her hope is to do so funeral in fatherIborg The beginning of a whole novel: “After someone dies, there is a lot of bad behavior, no matter how good people’s intentions may be. It falls to me and my father to drive to Germany to remove everything from my grandmother’s apartment and distribute it to her family – and either everyone wanted something, or they didn’t Nobody does it.” She thinks that animation and graphic novel writing are very similar in that they are very labor intensive. “But this is the first piece I made that was really personal,” she says. It captures something very complex: the area between secular upbringing and Jewish identity, and how both can (or perhaps not, in the case of funeral in fatherIborg) are compatible together.

The level of posts this year was quite high – although it was amazing how many stories were connected with anxiety, isolation, and a longing to travel; The epidemic is finding its way everywhere – and for that reason, we have decided to appoint two runners-up. We loved Tat Effby’s Selling Cancer!, a boisterous satire about publishing’s obsession with sick memoirs (and reality stars) that for Samira Ahmed brought to mind the works of the late great French cartoonist Claire Preacher; There was also much admiration for the sad and disturbing story of A Wolfgang Crowe, Andrew, the story of two distinctly reclusive (and wonderful) people influenced by Danielle Close. Congratulations to both of them too.

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Noah Roy

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