European Comic festival backs down over 'sexist shortlist' boycott

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The prestigious comic event has come under fire, thanks to their male-only shortlist

Women have had an active history in the world of comics, being involved since the medium's inception. Their input however, has rarely been recognised.

However, 2016 has so far been a step in the right direction for female comic creators, with an exhibition tracing women's colourful history within the medium beginning next month.

Now, following a protest, women could finally be honoured with the recognition they deserve at Angoulême comics festival.

The second largest comics festival in Europe, Angoulême is notable for awarding several prestigious prizes in cartooning. The four-day festival has been going strong since the 1970s and attracts more than 200,000 vistors each year.

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American comic creator Daniel Clowes says having his name on an all male shortlist is "a totally meaningless 'honour'"

The most prestigious prize at the event, Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême, is awarded to a living creator honoring their lifetime achievement. This creator then becomes president of the next year's festival.

The winner of Gran Prix de la ville d'Angoulême has only once been female (French cartoonist Florence Cestac) and this year the shortlist created quite an uproar as not one woman was included.

Ghost World creator, Daniel Clowes, who was included in the 30 male creators who made the shortlist, joined forces with French graphic novelist Joann Sfar and award-winning comic artist Riad Sattouf in demanding their names be removed following Women in Comics Collective Against Sexism calls for a boycott of the prize.

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In their official selection, Angoulême have recognised female creators Fiona Staples, Noelle Stevenson and G Willow Wilson - but they insist there aren't many women in comics

The few women nominated in their 42 year history include Persepolis creator Marjane Satrapi, and the British artist Posy Simmonds, creator of Tamara Drewe.

Although the festival still claims that there has been few female artists in comic book history. In an interview with Le Monde, Angoulême's Franck Bondoux said: "Unfortunately, there are few women in the history of comics art. It's a reality. If you go to the Louvre, you'll equally find very few women artists."

However, after the backlash, Angoulême agreed to add some women to their list but it's still up in the air as to whether the festival will garner the same respect after such a high profile controversy – and whether women will indeed want to be nominated in future.

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Alice Pattillo

Alice Pattillo is a freelance journalist with a passion for heavy metal, horror, science fiction, fantasy and comics. She has over seven years experience in magazines, formerly working as a staff writer at Creative Bloq, Imagine FX, Computer Arts and 3D World, as production editor for Guitar World and Guitar Player and online editor of Metal Hammer.