Today Angoulême 2022 announced the short list for its prestigious Grand Prix award and it is entirely women, a first for the typically male-dominated French festival. The three names in the running for the Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême 2022 are Québécois-Canadian cartoonist Julie Doucet alongside French cartoonists Catherine Meurisse and Pénélope Bagieu.
Julie Doucet is best known of the three to American audiences. Starting cartooning in the late ’80s, in the ’90s Doucet began publishing her best known work Dirty Plotte with Drawn & Quarterly. A part autobiographic and part experimental work, a recent D&Q collection of the work described it as:
“…visionary both for the medium and for storytelling. Her stories are candid, funny and intimate, plumbing the depths of the female psyche while charting the fragility of the men around her.”
Catherine Meurisse is a prolific graphic novelist and cartoonist whose career has included working at the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Relatively little of her work is available in English but Europe Comics has four of her books available, digitally. The Great Outdoors [Les Grands Espaces] is an autobio book about her childhood and Lightness [La Légèreté] was about dealing with the aftermath of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack. In 2020, Meurisse became the first cartoonist to be elected into the French Academy of Fine Arts.
Pénélope Bagieu is best known for her Eisner Award-winning book Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World. Emerging from a career as an ad and media illustrator, her first book, Josephine, debuted in 2008.
A second round of voting among the community of professional comics authors will take place between March 2 and 8 to determine who will be given the award at this year’s Angoulême festival, due to take place March 17 to 20.
While women have made it to the shortlist of the Grand Prix in previous years, this is the first time it has been wholly between three women. Only two women have ever received the Grand Prix, which acts as a lifetime/career achievement award. The first was Florence Cestac, in 2000, the second was Rumiko Takahashi in 2019.
The Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême has been awarded annually since the first festival, in 1974. The first recipient was Belgian cartoonist André Franquin, creator of Gaston and Marsupilami. The 2021 recipient was American cartoonist Chris Ware.
The selection process of Grand Prix nominees and winners has come under closer scrutiny in previous years. Until 2014, the prize was decided by previous recipients – which was almost entirely male. Now it is decided by a relatively wider vote of registered professional authors (or creators) in the comics community. In 2016 there was a protest when the longlist was entirely male.
It’s about time.
While this feels like an overcorrection, no one would blink if all of the finalists were men and, hopefully, it puts an end to the “no qualified women” whinge forever. I can dream that it will, anyway. ^_^
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