The Angoulême Grand Prix is a prestigious lifetime award for comic book creators that’s presented at the Festival d’Angoulême. Art Spiegelman won in 2011; Bill Watterson won in 2014. For 2016, they nominated 30 comic book creators...and all of them were men.
In the history of the Grand Prix, only one woman has ever won: Florence Cestac in 2000. But winning isn’t the same thing as being nominated — surely, in a list of 30 nominations, there should have been at least some women, right? Having no women at all is just outlandish.
And, in fact, many comic creators that were nominated thought the same thing: Brian Michael Bendis, Christophe Blain, François Bourgeon, Charles Burns, Pierre Christin, Daniel Clowes, Etienne Davodeau, Milo Manara, Riad Sattouf, Joann Sfar, Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Burns, and Chris Ware all stated that they will withdraw their names from the Grand Prix. And in response, Angoulême announced two additional nominees: Marjane Satrapi and Posy Simmonds.
However, in the Festival’s announcement of their nomination, they also managed to make things just a bit worse, stating that the “Festival can not remake the history of comics” and “positive discrimination has no place in the Arts.” And in an article in le Monde, they wrote that the award goes to creators “of a certain maturity and age” and “Unfortunately there are few women in the history of comics. If you go to the Louvre, you will also find very few female artists.”
In fact, Brian Michael Bendis had a great response to a similar statement on his blog:
Q: Angouleme is a lifetime achievement for those still working in comics. This is not about leaving out women for the sake of it. There are a LOT of women in the industry doing wonderful stuff, but a LIFETIME’S worth? No. This is like going to an old classical art gallery and being outraged that there aren’t more women in there. Women do deserve to be honored for their contributions, when it is appropriate. In 15 years time, if it survives this nonsense, I’m sure the list will be full of women.
BENDIS: just off the top of my head i have fifteen female creator names i can think of that deserve the honor. not the nomination. the full honor. but i will focus on one of my favorites…
Jill Thompson was on Sandman and won more eisners than i will ever have while i was in college
she should get it just for scary godmother.
i just complimented the hell out of her and made her feel old. i am wonderful :)
lets all list names under here to show our anonymous pal how backwards his thinking is.
The responses to his post include such names as Alison Bechdel, Colleen Doran, Lynda Barry, Trina Robbins, Gail Simone and more.
So yeah. Even as female comic book creators rise up in the industry, there is still some institutional sexism that stubbornly refuses to change until forced.