We Heart: Comic Book Dudes Taking a Stand Against Sexism

posy simmondsThe Angoulême International Comics Festival in France—one of the biggest comic book festivals in the world—recently got a swift dose of reality thanks to some super cool dudes.

When a short list of 30 nominees for Angoulême’s Grand Prix—a lifetime achievement award—was revealed to include exactly zero women comic artists, 12 of the men nominated quickly demanded that their names be removed in support of a boycott by French feminist comic collective BD Égalité.

Artist Riad Sattouf, one of the first to demand the withdrawal of his name, wrote on Facebook, “It turns out the list is made up only of men. That annoys me because there are lots of great women artists who deserve to be on it.”

In the more than 40 years that Angoulême has been awarding the prize, just one woman, French artist Florence Cestac, has won the Grand Prix, and few others have even been nominated. In response to the boycott, festival organizers announced that they would amend the list of nominees to include six women artists, including Marjane Satrapi and Posy Simmonds. They later changed course again and said they would democratize the awards process, allowing Angoulême academy members to vote for any artist of their choice.

But that didn’t stop festival organizers from first making some sexist remarks. When questioned by a reporter from French newspaper Le Monde, Franck Bondoux of the Angoulême festival said, “The concept of the Grand Prix is to reward an author for their whole oeuvre. When you look at the prize list, you can see the artists on it have a certain maturity and a certain age. Unfortunately, there are few women in the history of comics art. It’s a reality.”

A reality? More like a male-centric view of the creative field. Women have long held important roles in the comic book world.

Daniel Clowes, an American artist and writer who also withdrew his name, said in a statement, “I support the boycott of Angoulême and am withdrawing my name from any consideration for what is now a totally meaningless ‘honour.’ What a ridiculous, embarrassing debacle.”

Kudos to Clowes and other male artists for taking a stand against the obnoxious lack of acknowledgment of women artists. We heart!

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Lily Wujek is currently a student at Bennington College and an editorial intern at Ms.