As a site that frequently makes things up to parody the real-life absurdity of the comics industry, we're often surprised when actual events are more ridiculous than anything we could have come up with as a parody. That seems to be the case again with a report from The Beat about the disgraced Angouleme comics festival, which we've written about eight times this year despite, honestly, not really giving crap about the festival aside from its blatant and embarrassing display of sexism. After weeks of criticism from the worldwide comics media and fandom, everyone was kind of just waiting to get the festival over with this weekend so we could all forget about this trainwreck and move on with our lives. However, Angouleme had one more awful trick up its sleeve before allowing us to forget it exists for another year.
"This will be the shortest ceremony in history, because all we want to do is drink and dance," said French comedian and MC Richard Gailet as he took the stage to present the awards, but it wasn't the thought of comics creators moving their bodies rhythmically to music after consuming alcohol that made everyone sick to their stomachs. Apparently, the festival decided to screw with nine nominees by announcing their names as winners and bringing the emotional "winners" up to the stage, only to present them with a chocolate, "Faux Fauve," version of the award. Nobody knew about this beforehand.
And while we know that you are probably thinking this sounds like something we'd make up, we assure you, it's actually what transpired. The great Heidi MacDonald writes:
Apparently at the awards ceremony (now presented Saturday night), several winners were announced and called up to the stage, only to be presented with fake chocolate awards "Faux Fauves" — and told to get off the stage.
Among the fake winners, the sublime Arsene Schrauwen by Olivier Schrauwen and published by L'Association.
The Beat report links to a French article with more details, but unless you speak French, you're stuck with a subpar Google translation. In any case, it looks like the classlessness and immaturity of the Angouleme comics festival runners isn't limited to just claiming that no women in all of history are worthy of a lifetime achievement award.
Note: on Twitter, Marc Lombardi has responded to The Outhouse to tell us that Heidi MacDonald is wrong, and the awards were not, in fact, made of chocolate. While we are unwilling to believe that a journalist of the stature of Heidi MacDonald would get incorrect facts from a Google translation, we are willing to admit that it is possible that the awards were not made from chocolate, but rather very stinky cheese.
But that's not all! A follow up on Robot 6 this morning shed more light on the matter, revealing that Angouleme, and again, we're not making this up, also awarded a "second Grand Prix" to "the biggest author in the profession — in terms of size," Dorothée de Monfreid, who's more than 6 feet tall." It was only after that one last parting insult that the whole thing was revealed as a joke and the real winners announced. The confused and embarrassed "Faux Fauves" winners had, in some cases, already been congratulated publicly by their publishers, but hey, at least they got a snack to eat later, right?
The prank was so cruel and pointless that even the Grand Jury, the people behind selecting 30 men and no women for the Grand Prix nominations, thought it was dumb, releasing a statement that said:
We, the members of the Grand Jury for this year's Angoulême International Comics Festival, had an amiable meeting during which we chose the winners of the "fauves" in perfect harmony. We were surprised to be left out of the awards ceremony and then alarmed to hear the MC, whom we've never met, claim that we'd gone through contentious deliberations. By the end we were stupefied by the cruelty and vulgarity of the ceremony as a whole. The announcement of fake awards, which broke the hearts of numerous authors, publishers, and readers, in addition to the sexist and off-color remarks of the MC are beneath the dignity of a festival that remains an internationally respected flagship event in the world of comics. We are happy to have had the chance to make a contribution by awarding radical, unique works that will mark the history of the Ninth Art.
Yeah, that might be wishful thinking. We're not so sure it "remains an internationally respected flagship" after this year's antics.
But as the international comics community takes to Twitter this morning (just kidding - they never leave Twitter) to express their displeasure over these awards, The Outhouse feels we should contribute something instead of regurgitating others' reports, so we sent Gavin Dillinger to France (you can tell this is the part of the article we actually *are* making up because it relies on the premise that we can afford a plane ticket) to speak to one of the chief architects of the awards, lead Grand Jury intern Vlad Kozinkerov, to find out why the festival would seemingly try so hard to sully their own reputation this year.
"They tell me, 'Vlad, Angouleme festival is widely respected world over because it is French and people assume it must therefore be culturally rich, so there is really nowhere left to go. Come up with ways to ruin our reputation so that whatever we do next year will seem like step up in comparison,'" Kozinkerov told us. "So that is what I do."
"As Richard Gailet left the stage to chorus of boos and pelting of rotten vegetables, he tell me, 'Vlad, you are genius,' for coming up with chocolate awards prank," Kozinkerov continued. "In good conscience I could not return favor, as Gailet prefers American comedian Jerry Lewis over Russian National treasure Yakov Smirnoff."
Thankfully, this concludes all the talking we'll need to do about Angouleme for another year.
(Additional reporting by Gavin Dillinger) (article updated to include response from Marc Lombardi)