Lauren Redniss and Gene Luen Yang win MacArthur “Genius” Grants

PrintToday the latest batch of MacArthur Grants were announced including two graphic novelists, Lauren Redniss and Gene Luen Yang. Also known as the “Genius” grant, the prize is a prestigious award and this year’s group of 23 individuals is impressive.

Individuals are awarded for exceptional “originality, insight and potential.” This year’s group includes writers, visual artists, scientists, nonprofit organization leaders and others. They are awarded a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 distributed over five years.

Yang, age 43, is a graphic novelist who is known for American-Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, and is currently writing New Super-Man. He has also written Superman, The Shadow Hero, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and his graphic novel series Secret Coders entertains and teaches kids how to computer program. He is also serving as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The MacArthur Fellowship describes him as “a graphic novelist and cartoonist whose work for young adults demonstrates the potential of comics to broaden our understanding of diverse cultures and people.”

Redniss isn’t as known in the comic world but her art fuses graphic art, written text, and printmaking elements. She has written on wide-ranging topics. Her book Radioactive focused on the life of Marie Curie while Thunder and Lightning explored the role of weather in human events.

She is described as “an artist and writer seamlessly integrating artwork, written text, and design elements in works of visual nonfiction. ”

The MacArthur Fellowship has been awarded since 1981 and one of the most prestigious prizes in the United States. Potential fellows are first nominated by a shifting group of anonymous experts in various fields, then that list is winnowed down by a committee of around 12 people. That group is also unknown.

Previous MacArthur fellows from comics include Alison Bechdel, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Ben Katchor.