As reported yesterday, there has been international consternation over the 016 list of nominees for the Grand Prix, the lifetime achievement awards for cartoonists presented each year at the FIBD in Angoulême. While it broadened its scope from past years in including more non-French artists—including more manga-ka—it was 30 men, and that has led to calls for a boycott from an organization that points out sexism in the French comics scene.
two a growing number of the male nominees have voluntarily withdrawn from consideration from the prize, including Riad Sattouf, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Etienne Davodeau, Joann Sfar, François Bourgeon, Pierre Christin and Cristolphe Blaine, and probably more to come.
Even Milo Manara has joined the protest.
This is nearly a third of the nominees.
In an admirable display of solidarity that Sepp Blatter would find heartening, Franck Bondoux, the chief executive officer of the FIBD, told 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 few female artists.”
Which is a nice way of saying that sexism is just fine. The Grand Prix has been given out for 42 years, and Florence Cestac (Who drew the comic above) is the only woman winner, in 2000. Claire Bretécher was given an anniversary prize and Marjane Satrapi and Posy Simmonds have been on the list of nominees. And that’s it.
The current US comics landscape finds female creators on a par with male creators, and maybe even pulling ahead with sales outside of comics shops. Unless in the last 10 years human beings have suddenly mutated so that women can make good comics, they probably always could make good comics. And the longer tradition of female cartoonists in Japan, such as Takahashi, Moto Hagio and Riyoko Ikeda, could back this up. Yet for some reason many women artists were never given the chance or given accolades when their work was of sufficient merit. You should think about this and ask yourself what is the reason for this.
There are five women in th Will Eisner Hall of Fame: Marge, Trina Robbins, Marie Severin, Ramona Fradon and Dale Messick. As more people become eligible from the “modern” era of comics, I’d expect to see more women nominated and voted in.
The Grand Prix has a lot of catching up to do with cartoonists outside the traditional Franco-Belgian tradition, but there are several veteran female French cartoonists who deserve to at least be on the list. There have been more than five truly great women cartoonists, and it’s time for the great comics institutions to recognize this.
The outpouring of support for the boycott of Angouleme has been steady. Brigid Alverson has a complete run down of all the statements from with withdrawing cartoonists. including Sfar who wrote:
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.
As I wrote above, the is not about quotas. It’s about reflecting the world of comics as it exists, and ore importantly, as it has existed for the last 50 years.
Riad Sattouf, (if not the youngest then one of the youngest of the nominees) posted a statement on Facebook which automatically translated it as follows:
I found out that I was in the list of nominees at the grand prix of the festival of angoulême of this year. It made me very happy!
But, it turns out that this list does not include that of men.
It bothers me, because there are a lot of great artists who deserve to be there.
So I prefer cede my place to for example, rumiko takahashi, Julie Doucet, Anouk Ricard, marjane satrapi, Catherine Meurisse (I’m not gonna make the list of all the people that I like huh!)…
I request to be removed from this list, in the hope, however, be able to reinstate her the day she will be more joint! Thank you!
See you at angoulême!
And the French original:
J’ai découvert que j’étais dans la liste des nominés au grand prix du festival d’Angoulême de cette année. Cela m’a fait très plaisir !
Mais, il se trouve que cette liste ne comprend que des hommes.
Cela me gêne, car il y a beaucoup de grandes artistes qui mériteraient d’y être.
Je préfère donc céder ma place à par exemple, Rumiko Takahashi, Julie Doucet, Anouk Ricard, Marjane Satrapi, Catherine Meurisse (je vais pas faire la liste de tous les gens que j’aime bien hein !)…
Je demande ainsi à être retiré de cette liste, en espérant toutefois pouvoir la réintégrer le jour où elle sera plus paritaire! Merci!
On se voit à Angoulême!
Daniel Clowes has also withdrawn in a statement posted on the Fantagraphics blog:
In the wake of today’s announcement, Fantagraphics Books and Daniel Clowes endorse the French group BD Egalite [ http://bdegalite.org/fibd-femmes-interdites-de-bande-dessinee/ ] in its call for a boycott on voting for this year’s list, and Clowes has announced that he will withdraw from consideration as a result.
“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,” says Clowes.
It is also worth pointing out (in broad terms) that the French have a certain acceptance and expectation of controversy and the Grand Prix has been the subject of much of that over the last few years, as an older voting block has been replaced by a more representative list of contemporary cartoonists from around the world. I don’t expect the controversy to die down any time soon.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.