Japan's Otomo first manga artist to win top French prize

Japanese comic artist Katsuhiro Otomo at the French embassy in Tokyo on December 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno) (AFP/File)

Angoulême (France) (AFP) - Japan's Katsuhiro Otomo on Thursday became the first manga cartoonist to win a lifetime achievement award at France's renowned international Angouleme comics festival.

The 60-year-old is known the world over for the cult manga series Akira, set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo built on the ashes of a city that was destroyed by a blast that triggered World War III.

The awarding of the Grand Prix, which last year went to "Calvin and Hobbes" creator Bill Watterson, to Otomo highlights the importance of mangas in France, where they represent a quarter of all comic book sales.

The festival, overshadowed by the Charlie Hebdo magazine shootings in Paris on January 7, also awarded a special Grand Prix to the cartoonists killed in the Islamist attack -- Cabu, Wolinski, Charb, Tignous and Honore.