As the controversy over the complete lack of female nominees on the ballot for the Grand Prix du Festivale d'Angouleme, a French comics award whose name translates roughly as "cheese which smells like the perineum of an unwashed baboon," the people in charge have released a statement in French responding to the complaints. Ten nominees have asked for their names to be removed from the ballot so far, including superstar American comics creator "The Great One" Brian Bendis, reducing the list of nominees by a full third. Fellow nominee Alan Moore has yet to respond, probably because his statement of protest will be ten times as long and scathing as the other nominees, and possibly be written on magickal paper which curses the festival-runners upon touching it.
In a rare cultural shift for the French, the statement from Angouleme, titled "The Festival d'Angoulême love women ... but can not rewrite history (of comics)," refuses to surrender and spends 90% of its body insisting that Angouleme was right all along and that only men were included because only men deserve to be on the list, but in the final sentence, begrudgingly agrees to add more names to the ballot. It is unknown at this time whether these additional names will include women, but we honestly wouldn't put it past them at this point to double down and add only the names of more men. We'll let you know when we know more. In the meantime, read the google translated version of the statement below:
"The Official Selection of the Festival of Angoulême in 2016 does not include any woman this year! How is such oblivion possible? ".
That, in summary, the object of discussion and polemics that grow since yesterday.
Except ... except that we must look more closely, or rather higher and further back.
What are we talking about? From the list of authors selected under the designation "Grand Festival Award".
What is the "Grand Prix"? A prize crowning un.e auteur.e for all of his work and his contribution to the evolution of comics. In this sense, it looks like the Registration of rock bands
"Rock'n'Roll all fame" or a Honorary César.
The winners of the last three years embody the nature of that price. Their names, Willem, Bill Watterson, Katsuhiro Otomo ... These artists create designs for several decades.
When we go back in that amount of time to watch what was the place of men and women in the field of creation, for comics, it is clear that there are very few recognized authors. If the Franco-Belgian comics are observed, which is closest to us, and we look generational markers, such as periodic Tintin, Spirou, Pilot, To follow, Heavy Metal, Fluide Glacial, it ... is objectively much faster to count their authors (almost on the fingers of the hand) of the authors.
The Festival can not remake history of comics.
If one wants to judge the action of the festival compared to authors in respect of this time is to its Official Selection should be to turn (it takes into account books published during the past year) . For the year 2016 the event, it shows creative in a very significant proportion (25% of the books while the representation thereof among all auteur.es is less than 15% ).
The Festival does not just select auteur.es it as the premium.
Even if they owe everything to their own talent, the Festival has played an important role in the emergence of authors such as Marjane Satrapi and Julie Maroh (whose works were brought to the screen and successful).
It also promotes the authors by exhibitions, contests, its shows, meetings (on 42 th Festival, Lisa Mandel, surrounded by sisters, successfully organized a happening meeting on the theme "The role of men in the comic"; for editing in 2016, it is expected that both the titles are "Women in the French and Swedish comic" and "feminine trait, male trait, just guess who designed what?").
The Festival constitutes, therefore, a space for debate where the issue is regularly discussed. He himself is a proactive player in the cause of the authors, however, he will not serve by categorizing or by enrolling in a positive discrimination, which have no meaning in the arts.
So two years ago, when he changed his method of selecting Grand Prix by electing it by all cartoon auteur.es professionnel.le.s (either a college of about 3000 voters), the Festival has introduced in the list of selected authors': Marjane Satrapi, and Posy Simmonds. It turns out that they have received very few votes and came in last. Thus they were the list of outputs (under the Regulation).
Although the Festival regrets that his relationship with authors to be considered, in the circumstances, the gear prism Grand Prix, he understands that today women and men to be sensitive to the issue of the presence of female creators in the comic. It also includes the symbolic dimension that attaches to it, as an event lighthouse, to be an opportunity for them and them to voice this concern and the defense of this cause.
And if finally it allowed this debate to make concrete progress and was a marker for the coming years, the Festival would have contributed.
Consequently, the Festival will, without removing any other name, the authors introduce new names to the list of selected under the 2016 Grand Prix.
We've yet to see a full translation of the statement above by anyone other than Google, but we'd like to note that some are taking it to indicate that Marjane Satrapi and Posy Simmonds will be re-added to the ballot. We'll let you know if we hear more about that.
However, one of our friends (wishing to remain anonymous) did offer us a better translation of one of the lines:
The statement said "... il est objectivement beaucoup plus rapide de compter leurs auteures (presque sur les doigts de la main) que leurs auteurs." Google translated it: it ... is objectively much faster to count their authors (almost on the fingers of the hand) of the authors.
But given gender designations, it actually says something more like: W/ regard to iconic comics, "it is objectively much faster to count the authors [who are women], (they fit on the fingers of one hand), than the authors [who are men].
Just to be clear, in case Google's version didn't quite get across how ignorant the statement seems to be. :)
If anyone out there is fluent in French and would like to send us a full translation, we'll publish it here.
Any further major updates, and we'll follow up with another report.