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Ten comics creators have withdrawn their names from consideration for this year’s Grand Prix d’Angouleme, in protest that the list of 30 nominees doesn’t include a single woman.
As of this morning, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Riad Sattouf, Joann Sfar, Milo Manara, Pierre Christin, Etienne Davodeau, Christophe Blain and Brian Michael Bendis have indicated, personally or through their publishers, that they are joining the boycott launched by the French group BD Egalite.
Meanwhile, Franck Bondoux, executive officer of the Angouleme International Comics Festival, defended the choices in the French newspaper Le Monde, saying the Grand Prix is a lifetime achievement award for artists who have reached a certain age. “Unfortunately, there are few women in the history of comics,” he said. “That’s the reality. Similarly, if you go to the Louvre, you will find few women artists.”
Speaking with the French website Telerama, Bondoux added, “The festival loves women, but we cannot rewrite the history of comics.” He insisted that in all the online criticism, he hadn’t seen 10 names of essential women creators who deserved the prize. Bondoux also explained that Marjane Satrapi, who has been among the nominees in recent years, is no longer eligible because she declared she’s no longer making comics, apparently applying a different standard to her than to recent Grand Prix winner Bill Watterson.
French Minister of Culture Fleur Pellerin commented that while women may be under-represented in the comics industry, she is nonetheless “a little disturbed” that the list doesn’t include a single woman.
Both Clowes and his publisher, Fantagraphics Books, endorsed the boycott, with the cartoonist commenting, “I support the boycott of Angouleme and am withdrawing my name from any consideration for what is now a totally meaningless ‘honor.’ What a ridiculous, embarrassing debacle.”
Sattouf, whose graphic memoir The Arab of the Future won the prize for best graphic novel at last year’s festival, announced his request to be removed from the list of nominees in a Facebook post that was quickly picked up by the French media. He offered some suggestions for women who should be considered: Rumiko Takahashi, Julie Doucet, Anouk Ricard, Marjane Satrapi and Catherine Meurisse.
Burns announced his withdrawal via two tweets from his French publisher, Editions Delcourt: “While I am flattered to be nominated for the Angoulême Grand Prix … I support the reasons for Mr. Sattouf’s boycott and withdraw my name from consideration, as well.”
In an editorial for the French edition of The Huffington Post, Sfar demanded that his name be removed from “this anachronistic list” and countered arguments against inclusiveness:
I am angry when I hear us being called “politically correct.” I have never asked for parity. That would make all the nominated women suspect; people would say that they did not deserve their place and they were there just to satisfy quotas. I simply do not want to participate in a ceremony that is at this point disconnected from the reality of the current comics world. Thirty names without a single woman is a slap at those who have devoted their lives to creating or loving comics.
Manara made a statement in French on his Facebook page:
Given the importance that women have had in my artistic life (and in my life itself) and the fact that I have always tried to be respectful of their role as subject and not object in my work, I wish to remove my name from this list of candidates for the Grand Prix d’Angoulême who forgot to mention even a single woman artist for this important award in our profession.
Burns’ French publisher, Editions Cornelius, tweeted, “Charles Burns wrote to tell us that he refuses to be included in a list of nominees that does not include a single woman.”
Davodeau made his statement in a private Facebook post that was published in the French paper Metro News:
The fact that this list of 30 authors does not include a single female helps fuel the worst cliche, the argument that the art of comics is essentially non-feminine. It turns out that women are making—and reading—comics in larger and larger numbers. I am sorry that the festival has ignored this incontestable fact. This is why I am asking, me too, that my name be removed from the list.
Update (7:48 a.m.): Brian Michael Bendis has also withdrawn his name from consideration, explaining on this blog that:
as i drifted off to sleep last night i thought of my daughters. my smart, strong willed daughters who will STILL have to fight for their equal rights and how they will STILL have to fend off some men treating them as objects before they can see them as individuals and how insane it seems to me.
so, with that i join my fellow creators in removing my name from the angouleme grand prix list. i hope the people in charge who, again, i do not know rectify whatever happened that created this mess. i truly thank them for the honor and will gladly accept it once the honor is restored to its full power of inclusion to all creators all over the world.