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Visiting France

Angoulême comics festival faces vote boycott as no women nominated for prize

media Agrippine, the heroine created by well-known French cartoonist Claire Bretécher-Dargaud Claire Bretécher-Dargaud

France's annual comics festival faces a boycott call because not one woman features among the 30 nominees for its annual prize this year. Three nominees, led by French cartoonist Riad Sattouf, had announced their withdrawal by Wednesday morning from the running for the Angoulême comics festival prize after a group of over 100 women artists announced a boycott.

Although it had given him "great pleasure" to find he was nominated, Sattouf, the author of 2015 winner The Arab of the Future and 2010 winner Pascal Brutal, declared on Facebook that he was "embarrassed" by the fact that only men were on the list for the Angoulême festival's prestigious prize this year.

"So I would rather cede my place to, for example, Rumiko Takahashi, Julie Doucet, Anouk Ricard, Marjane Satrapi, Catherine Meurisse (I'm not going to give a list of all the people I like)," he said.

Another French cartoonist, Joann Sfar, and American Daniel Clowes also asked for their names to be dropped from the list.

Le Monde tweets a cartoon declaring "We do it too!" by Julie Maroh for the Collectif des créatrices de bande dessinée contre le sexisme.

The festival has taken place in the western French town of Angoulême for the last 42 years and, France being one of the first countries where comics and graphic novels were taken seriously, is well known internationally.

Since 2014 the list of nominees has been drawn up by the festival's artistic directors before going to a vote.

That year two women - French-Iranian Marjane Satrapi and Briton Posy Simmonds - featured on the list and last year there was only one, Satrapi again.

On seeing that there were no women at all this year, the 140-odd members of the Collectif des créatrices de bande dessinée contre le sexisme (Collective of comic artists against sexism) announced they would not take part in the vote and their numbers grew as the controversy hit the media.

"43rd Angoulême festival and only one woman has ever won the main prize!" declares the woman in Florence Cestac's cartoon. "It doesn't even occur to them!" comments the caption.

One of the festival's organisers, Franck Bondoux, defended the list toLe Monde newspaper.

"When you look at the prize-winners, you see that the artists on it have a certain maturity and are of a certain age," he said. "Unfortunately, there are not many women in the history of comics. That's just reality. If you go to the Louvre, you will also find few feminine artists."

The French comics critics' group, ACBD, estimates that 12.4 per cent of professional cartoonists are women.

The anti-sexism campaigners argue in favour of positive discrimination, "as in politics or in milieux dominated by men", as cartoonist Catel Muller, pen-name Catel, told Le Monde.

Update: The festival of Wednesday afternoon promised to add some women cartoonists' names to the list of nominees.

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