Boycott called after major cartoon prize longlists 30 men, no women

abel-cartoon.jpgAward-winning comic artist Jessica Abel is encouraging comic artists to boycott the Agoulême Grand Prix because no women were included on its longlist. Several nominees have withdrawn their names in support of female comic artists. (Comic from BD Egalité website, photo of Jessica Abel from Facebook)

UPDATE: The Angoulême International Comics Festival has withdrawn their longlist, after 12 of its nominees dropped out in protest. Instead, academy members will vote for whomever they want.

The longlist for the 2016 Angoulême Grand Prix - a lifetime achievement award of sorts for cartoonists and one of the comics world's biggest honours - was announced earlier this month, and there wasn't a single woman on it. The 30 names on the longlist included some megastars in comics and graphic novels, like Stan Lee, Frank Miller and Chris Ware - but it's the names absent from this year's longlist that raised eyebrows.

The all-male longlist caused an immediate uproar in the comics community. Shortly after the announcement on January 5, a group of French female cartoonists called "BD Egalité," or the Women in Comics Collective Against Sexism (BD is short for "bandes dessinées") called for a boycott of the Angoulême Grand Prix as a result.

"I'm disgusted that the Grand Prix nominating committee did not see fit to include a single woman on their ballot," said BD Egalité member and award-winning comic artist Jessica Abel on her Facebook page.

"I'm boycotting this award. You should too. I may write in a vote - for a female creator - but I'm not voting for another man for this award. Not this year, maybe not ever. The committee is going to have to win back my confidence."

Ten longlisted comics artists, including Chris Ware and Riad Sattouf (The Arab of the Future), quickly asked for their names to be removed from consideration for the 2016 prize. Graphic novelist Daniel Clowes, who is published in Canada by Montreal publisher Drawn and Quarterly, issued this strongly worded request to be removed from the longlist: "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."

And as of Wednesday, January 6, in a begrudging statement entitled "The Angoulême Festival loves women... but we can't rewrite history (of comics)," the Angoulême Grand Prix has announced that they're revisiting the longlist with the plan to include women after all.

Shutting out women cartoonists isn't new to the Angoulême Grand Prix. In its 43-year history, the prize has been awarded to only one woman, Florence Cestac. Last year, Marjane Satrapi - the acclaimed Iranian-born French cartoonist and author of Persepolis - was included in the list, but was removed this year.