Luffy from One Piece, comic book personality of the year 2021

Each year, in the purest tradition of ActuaBD, a real or fictitious personality or an entity comes to shed light on the most significant event of the last twelve months. A tradition which had for example brought under the spotlight the late Hubert in 2020, Emil Ferris in 2019, Wilfrid Lupano in 2018 or again Charlie Hebdo in 2015.

In this month of December 2021 overshadowed by an apparently eternal Covid, but rekindled by the champagne and the gifts found under the tree (with a max of comics, of course), we face the fait accompli: the new wave of manga is sweeping in France. A wave ? No: a tsunami with record sales figures. Already in the summer of 2021, the manga had exceeded 50% of market share in the sale of comics in France, stimulated by large events centered around emblematic figures such as Grendizer, shows such as Paris Manga or Pop Asia Matsuri, major reissues (Lone Wolf & Cub), an international stir over the disappearance of the Lord of Dark Fantasy Kentaro Miura, without forgetting the meeting between Emmanuel Macron and the two mangakas considered to be the most popular today, Eiichirô Oda (One Piece) and Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail), which had taken place ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games!

One Piece volume 100 released on December 8: the n ° 1 in manga sales seems indebted

And, like our journalist Jaime Bonkowski de Passos As noted in a recent article, this year also marks the anniversary of the most iconic Japanese saga: One Piece Eiichirô Oda, who is celebrating his 24th birthday and the publication of his 100th volume, alone representing 8.3% of the manga market in France. Who other than the boy with the elastic arms better embody the success and the longevity of Japanese pop culture in the hexagonal lands?

The character of Eiichirô Oda, Monkey D. Luffy of his full name, presents himself as the typical and traditional hero of the shônen manga : candid with a big heart, a little silly around the edges and standing up against the injustices he encounters. Filiation with the hero of Dragon Ball, Goku, seems obvious in the background and he even borrows his surname from “Goku”, the name of the Monkey King of Travel to the west, a common source of inspiration with Dragon Ball.

The success of this classic hero of a work-river which has now conquered several generations of French readers, but also throughout the world, is based on a universe teeming with strange characters and extraordinary places, with a plot of surprisingly long-lasting, despite its impressive and venerable longevity.

The competition was nevertheless fierce. For the 2021 BD Personality election, we also thought of other figures of the 9th art who certainly deserved a special mention:

In the first line, Pascal Ory, historian elected to the French Academy this year, specialist in the social, political and cultural history of France and reference biographer on René Goscinny. His entry under the Cupola is a marker for the recognition of the 9th art, since his erudition has led him to write numerous works and direct numerous theses on comics.

1640784808 420 Luffy from One Piece comic book personality of the year
Pascal Ory in 2017
Photo: D. Pasamonik (L’Agence BD)

We could have added Catherine Meurisse, first designer elected to the Academy of Fine Arts in 2020 and expected to be Grand Prix d’Angoulême 2021 – finally awarded to Chris Ware. We also wanted to distinguish her for her new album The Young Woman and the Sea (Dargaud), favorite of our columnist Philippe Lebas. However, she could not be the personality of this year since we had already elected her Comic Strip Personality in 2016 and this distinction can only be awarded once per winner.

A thought also for Zidrou, Grand Prix of the Victor Rossel Comic Strip Academy 2021; Philippe Geluck, for its exhibitions and installations of Cat statues between Paris, Bordeaux and Caen; Grendizer, for the many events around the character (new album, tribute events, limited edition postage stamps, etc.); Riad Sattouf who founded his own publishing house Les Livres du Futur and published there The Young Actor T. 1 ; Pierre Lungheretti who left his duties at the Cité de la BD with the honors of a job well done; and finally Corto Maltese, for his successful resurrection in the hands of the French duo Bastien Vivès and Martin Quenehen.

So it is One Piece’s Ludty who is elected by the 50 or so members of the team, a site which, by the way, also has a record audience. What do our readers think of this choice?

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