It seems that the Festival of Comics of Angoulême is grudgingly going to add more names to it’s Grand Prix list after a growing number of cartoonists have withdrawn in protest over the lack of a single woman. The statement comes across, in Google translate anyway, as an incredibly snarky and sulky whine about how they can’t “rewrite the history of comics,” a history written by men for men. A history which was probably informed by this very attitude of exclusionary tut tutting. But it seems people are now concerned about equality and representation and all that so whatevs. Well, props to you big fella!

The outcry comes as more and more male cartoonists were withdrawing, including Chris Ware who released this statement via Pantheon:

“While I am flattered to be nominated for the Angouleme Grand Prix, I support the reasons for Mr. Sattouf’s boycott and withdraw my name from consideration, as well.”—Chris Ware


  1. Heidi, this post is orders of magnitude more snarky and whiny than the festival’s press release, at least in its original French.

    A couple points you elected not to mention:

    Posy Simmons and Marjane Satrapi, two names immediately put forward by critics as definitely deserving to be on the list of finalists, were listed a couple years ago, but received so few votes that they were not listed again this year, in accordance with the festival’s normal rules.

    While absent from the lifetime achievement category, women comics creators are actually over-represented this year among the Official Selections, accounting for one quarter of those selections while making up under 15 percent of the creative community under consideration.

    Neither of which suggests that the Grand Prix list is beyond criticism (of course it isn’t), or that it couldn’t be improved by the inclusion of women creators. But it would be great if the discussion of this topic didn’t jump immediately onto the typical route of selective internet outrage, and were treated a bit less frivolously than the sadly similar discussion of the inclusion of a female figurine in a Star Wars Monopoly game.

  2. Carl:

    I’ve been at this a loooooooong time. And I’ve heard it all. And when the Festival director’s INITIAL RESPONSE was not a smoothing over “Wow this is problem we are seriously looking into how to deal with it” but rather “Well there are no women cartoonists in history, sorry. I mean just look at the Louvre!” they opened themselves for more magnitudes of snark than even I can muster.

    The tone deaf nature of this answer tells you all you need to know about why there are so few women in “comics history” or the Louvre. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

    Also, is it any wonder the women nominees got so few votes with this kind of attitude?

  3. While including more lines for women in Star Wars (to continue the SW parallel) is a choice and should be examined, nominating (or not) women in the field of comics is not the same thing.

    Not only is it completely true that this is a field dominated by males for decades because they wanted to be in it, not because it was made for males only, but it is also true that audiences are largely more interested in male-written or drawn comics in comparison.

    If we start to cry foul about this in the comics industry, we will be faced with the case of political correctness that will be used to cram female comics down our throats where they may not deserve to be. Now, to be sure, in the longrun, this may encourage more women to become comic writers and artists, which is fabulous, but the means of getting there in (again) a non-exclusive industry will have been wrong.

  4. It is not politically correct to be a female in comics. If you feel women are ‘crammed down your throat’, imagine how a woman must feel seeing all of the sub-standard comics and cartooning being put out there by the likes of those male-written or drawn comics.

    Boys only clubs are sad, pathetic little basements that need to be lit by enlightenment.

  5. @Denis Pajtak:

    – Alison Bechdel
    – Phoebe Gloeckner
    – Jessica Abel
    – Gail Simone
    – Jill Thompson
    – Marjane Satrapi
    – Ramona Fradon
    – Trina Robbins
    – Marie Severin
    – Louise Simonson
    – Rumiko Takahashi
    – Posy Simmonds

    You can seriously look at that list of female comics creators & say to yourself: nope, not one of those women merits nominating for a lifetime achievement award? Come on.

    The tone of the executive officer of the Angoulême festival, in his comments to Le Monde, speaks volumes. Via a Comic Book Resources article:

    “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.”


    So, why do we think it is that there aren’t more women who have a lifetime achievement of comics work to be recognized for? Surely sexism, and the attitude that “political correctness” might “cram female comics down our throats where they may not deserve to be.”

    To look at the works of just a few of the people on my list of suggestions, above:

    Rumiko Takahashi’ is one of Japan’s most successful manga artists. She’s had a professional career in comics since 1978; her work includes fan favorites “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku”, “Ranma 1/2”. & “Inuyasha”. She’s won the Shogakukan Manga Award twice, & her work has been recreated in anime, live-action TV & film. Back in 2010, the last year for which I could find figures, over 170 million copies of her works had been sold around the world.

    Alison Bechdel has been a published cartoonist since 1983. She slowly built her audience for the much-beloved “Dykes to Watch Out For” over decades & in 2006 published “Fun Home”, an autobiographical work that won Time’s “Book of the Year” as well as an Eisner Award. It was then made into a Tony award-winning Broadway musical, & Ms. Bechdel won a MacArthur Fellowship – the “genius grant” – in 2014.

    Posy Simmonds has been drawing comics / comic strips since 1977, after working as an illustrator in the late 60’s & early 70’s. In ’77, she picked up a more regular gig at UK newspaper the Guardian, through which she started developing more serialized characters. Her work there was uniquely British, poking fun at the class structure & concerns of society around her. In 1981, Simmonds won “Cartoonist of the Year” via the British Press Awards. She worked on some children’s books & then returned to the pages of the Guardian in the late 90’s with a serialized comic called “Gemma Bovery”, a clever reworking of Flaubert’s “Madam Bovary”. This was made into a graphic novel & feature film, as was Simmons’ next serialized comic, an original work called “Tamara Drewe”. After being nominated already in 2001 for Gemma Bovery, Simmonds won the 2009 Prix de la critique of the French Association of comics critics and journalists for Tamara Drewe. (That last sentence was via Wikipedia.)

    …but please, tell me more about how there are no women comics creators worth nominating for a lifetime achievement award. :/

    BTW, the lack of Rey Star Wars toys isn’t a trivial thing. The character of Rey fulfills the promise of Princess Leia, all those years ago. The reason that there’s no Rey toys / game pieces is the same reason that there was hardly any Gamora toys or tee shirts after the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie. Companies consistently underestimate women & girl’s interest in, & fandom of, these properties. That’s how the whole cycle keeps happening. Women’s interest is assumed to be less, so less is made for them; less is made with women/girls in mind, so there’s less of those items available to order or support, & then when it’s time to nominate people for an award or for a publisher to choose a new property, the mindset is – well, let’s go with what works, because it’s a sure bet. Not, let’s include / make more items for women, so what if they’re half the planet & also love comics.

    I started working in comics in 1996, & let me tell you, some days, it feels like a lot has changed, it’s a new day, etc. When I read your comments, Denis, it felt like nothing had. What a relief that Heidi’s been in the trenches the whole time & she can remind me I’m not just imagining things.

    (Sorry that got so long, Comixace..)

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