Comics stars boycott prestigious Grand Prix d’Angouleme after no women were nominated for the prize

<i>Ghost World</i> creator Daniel Clowes was among the comics authors who announced they were boycotting the prize.

Ghost World creator Daniel Clowes was among the comics authors who announced they were boycotting the prize. Photo: Getty Images

A number of high-profile comics creators have boycotted the industry's prestigious Grand Prix d'Angouleme festival, after no women were nominated for the prize this year.

In a field of 30 nominees, somehow all 30 were men.

The award - a "lifetime achievement" recognition in international comics, given to comics authors whose work has "changed the course of comics history" - has previously been won by legends like Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman and Katsuhiro Otomo. In its 42-year history, only one woman, French author Florence Cestac, has ever taken the prize. 

According to reports, BD Egalite, a French organisation that fights gender bias in comics, were the first to call for a boycott of the Grand Prix. Their call to arms was picked up by American comics writer Jessica Abel, who translated the group's note and posted it on her Facebook page.  

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The official boycott call against the Grand Prix of Fibd Angouleme has gone out from Collectif des créatrices de bande...

Posted by Jessica Abel on  Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Since then, a bunch of huge names in the industry - including this year's nominees Daniel Clowes (Ghost World), Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth), Charles Burns (Black Hole), and Brian Michael Bendis (Alias) - have joined the boycott and openly criticised the Grand Prix for its "obvious discrimination".

"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," Clowes said in a statement posted by his publisher Fantagraphics.

Bendis, the creator of Alias hero Jessica Jones, posted a lengthy note on his Tumblr, writing: "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 rectify whatever happened that created this mess."

French comics author Riad Sattouf, also a nominee this year, requested his removal from the list in a Facebook post, highlighting a number of female authors who could take his place, including Rumiko Takahashi (Urusei Yatsura), Julie Doucet (My New York Diary) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis).

Bonjour! J'ai découvert que j'étais dans la liste des nominés au grand prix du festival d'Angoulême de cette année....

Posted by Riad Sattouf on  Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Disappointingly, in the wake of the boycott, the prize's organisers have defended their original decision, putting the blame on "history".

Speaking to French newspaper Le Monde, Frank Bondoux, the head of the Grand Prix, said, "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."

The festival, while big-uping their role in the "emergence" of female comics stars such as Satrapi and Julie Maroh (Blue Is The Warmest Colour), reiterated Bondoux's defence in an official statement, saying, "The Festival cannot remake the history of comics."