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COMICS LIT AWARDS: Gene Luen Yang, Ulli Lust among big winners at L.A. Times Book Festival Prizes

“Boxers” from the two-volume “Boxers & Saints,” by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)


TWO TOP graphic novelists came away winners this weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Gene Luen Yang’s twin-volume epic “Boxers & Saints” (First Second/Macmillan) won for Young Adult Literature, and Ulli Lust’s life-on-the-edge travel memoir “Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life” (Fantagraphics) won for Graphic Novels/Comics. (Both books, by the way, made The Post’s Book World/Comic Riffs’ Top 10 of 2013.)

“Being acknowledged by the L.A. Times for this particular project has special resonance for me,” Yang tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “One of the protagonists of ‘Boxers & Saints,’ Vibiana, shares the same name as the patron saint of the city of Los Angeles.”

“Boxers & Saints” — also a National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature — is a mythology-laced two-book collection that tells tales of the Boxer Rebellion from opposing sides.

“I’m deeply, deeply grateful to the Los Angeles Times, the judges, and all the other fine folks who put together this past weekend,” says the Eisner-winning Yang, a Bay Area-based creator whose 2006 graphic novel “American Born Chinese” is the first graphic novel ever to be a finalist for the National Book Award (Young People’s Literature).

Like Yang, the Berlin-based Lust has been pulling in the awards this season. The Austrian cartoonist’s “Today Is the Last Day…” recalls her sometimes-harrowing hitchhiking trip through Italy 30 years ago, at age 17. The memoir won the Ignatz for Outstanding Graphic Novel at last year’s Small Press Expo.

(The other LAT nominees for Graphic Novel/Comics were David B., Ben Katchor, Anders Nilsen and Joe Sacco.)

The judges in the Graphic Novel/Comics category were Eleanor Davis, Jason Little and Ben Schwarz; and judging the Young Adult Lit category were Jonathan Hunt, Lynn Rutan and Rollie Welch.

Among other winners at Friday night’s LAT Book Fest Prizes ceremony at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, longtime Post critic Marie Arana received the Biography honor for “Bolivar: American Liberator” (Simon & Schuster).

To see the complete list of winners, go to:

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.
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