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Comic Festival Reconsiders All-Male Awards Shortlist After Threat of Boycott

They added Marjane Satrapi and Posy Simmonds to mollify boycotters.

Photo via Flickr user Kaja Avberšek

It’s so difficult to live in a world where the progression of equality movements threatens your command over traditionally male-dominated sectors! This is what the organizers of France’s prestigious Angoulême comics festival, an annual celebration for comic artists all over the world, are learning after they released a shortlist for their lifetime achievement award, the Grand Prix d’Angoulême, and it contained nary a single woman’s name. Not a single one! Comic artists who were slated to attend the event—among them bigshots like Daniel Clowes and Jessica Abel—were so outraged that they called for a boycott of the event.

The event organizers have since announced that they will add women’s names to the list—Marjane Satrapi and Posy Simmonds were tacked on to mollify the boycotters—but not before Franck Bondoux, the Angoulême head, made a buffoonish comment to Le Monde. “Unfortunately, there are few women in the history of comics. It’s a reality. If you go to the Louvre, you will also find quite few female artists,” he told Le Monde, in a statement that suggests he has no access to the internet. Let me Google that for you, Mr. Bondoux.

The organizers also wrote that they cannot “remake” the history of comics. The problem is, of course, that history has blinders on, and has ignored the women who have, for a very long time, been producing excellent work from its margins.

It was BD Égalité, a collective of artists who combat sexism in comics, that originally brought the issue to light. “Indeed, what is the message sent to women cartoonists and those in the process of becoming such?” they wrote in a statement. “We are discouraged from having ambition, from continuing our efforts. How could we take it otherwise? It all comes back to the disastrous glass ceiling; we’re tolerated, but never allowed top billing. Will we require women in comics to perpetually play second fiddle?”

Comic artists Brian Michael Bendis, Christophe Blain, François Bourgeon, Charles Burns, Pierre Christin, Etienne Davodeau, Milo Manara, Riad Sattouf, Joann Sfar, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Ware, as well as Clowes, made statements communicating their disappointment with the debacle, and asked that their names be removed from the list. “I support the boycott of Angoulême and am withdrawing my name from any consideration for what is now a totally meaningless ‘honor.’ What a ridiculous, embarrassing debacle,” wrote Clowes.

“I request to withdraw my name from this anachronistic list,” wrote Sfar. “I simply do not want to participate in a ceremony that is so disconnected from the realities of contemporary comics. Thirty names, without one woman, is a slap to those who devote their lives to creating or loving comics.”

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