French comics festival marred by sexism row

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Paris, Jan 6 (IANS) A prestigious award for graphic novelists in France is facing calls for a boycott after its long list of nominees failed to include any women, the media reported on Wednesday.

The 42-year-old Grand Prix at Angouleme has long faced criticism for its failure to recognise women cartoonists, BBC reported.

A group called BD Egalite, or Women in Comics Collective Against Sexism, said the prize was significant, because as well as being honorary it could also boost an artist’s career and book sales.

“What is the message sent to women cartoonists and those in the process of becoming such?” it asked on its website. “We are discouraged from having ambition, from continuing our efforts.”

At least three male nominees have publicly backed the protest.

They have asked for their names to be removed from the list.

The Grand Prix is a highly prestigious prize, recognising the lifetime achievement of a cartoonist. It is handed out each year at the Angouleme International Comics Festival.

In its long history, only one woman, Florence Cestac, has ever won the prize.

American Daniel Clowes called it a now “totally meaningless ‘honour’.”

“What a ridiculous, embarrassing debacle,” he added.

Riad Sattouf on Facebook listed a number of female cartoonists he would “prefer to cede my place to”, including Rumiko Takahashi, Julie Doucet, Anouk Ricard, Marjane Satrapi and Catherine Meurisse.

Festival organisers have rejected accusations that it ignored the contribution of women artists, and gave examples of steps it was taking to promote their work.

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