In the world of cartooning and graphic novels, the annual Angoulême in France has the same stature as the Cannes festival to film-makers. Drawing a reported 200,000 guests every year, it is such a fixture that the French presidents regularly attend.
This year, the nomination list for the Grand Prix, a lifetime achievement award that is the highest honor in the festival, consisted of 30 male cartoonists. The award has been criticized in the past for being cliquish and ignoring women cartoonists. In the 43-year history of the award, only one one woman, Florence Cestac, has won the Grand Prix.
But this year’s all-male nomination list has sparked a new wave of activism. A group called BDgalite has called for a boycott. So far, two cartoonists have asked for their names to be withdrawn from the nomination list: Riad Sattouf, creator of the graphic memoir The Arab of the Future (recently translated into English), and Dan Clowes, best known for his graphic novel Ghost World.
“I support the boycott of Angoulême 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 released by his publisher Fantagraphics Books. As of this morning, seven other nominated creators joined Sattouf and Clowes in the boycott: Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Joann Sfar, Milo Manara, Pierre Christin, Etienne Davodeau and Christophe Blain.