Molly Jackson: The Men Of Angoulême

AngoulêmeLast week, my column looked forward to all the potential of 2016. Sure, 2015 had its rocky moments but it also had some great ones. Well, 2016 has arrived and is ready to smack my enthusiasm back down.

This week, the Angoulême International Comics Festival announced the nominees for their lifetime achievement award, Grand Prix Angoulême. This is the 43rd year of the French award, which is considered a great honor to win. However, this year not a single female creator was nominated. That’s unusual considering there is a (albeit just one) past female recipient, as well as a number of past female nominees.

Creators are already taking to the internet to decry this. Grand Prix nominee Daniel Clowes has even removed himself from the running in protest. I do believe that he will not be the last. Other past attendees have also taken a stand against this, stating that they will be boycotting the award votes.

I’ll admit error here; I haven’t followed the comic awards as closely as I probably should. Mostly, creator friends that are posting on Facebook or the follow-up PR emails announcing the winners is the closest I really get to any award show. Still, when a comic I like gets noticed, I am happy for them. When a creator gets recognized for their work, it is a wonderful thing.

One thing I do know is that award competitions have had to grow and change with the changes in the industry. Web and indie comics have definitely affected the field. The changing diversity has affected comic awards too.

In searching for any women comic creators, I found a long list of winners from 2015. Women cleaned up at award shows, with hits like Lumberjanes, Bitch Planet, or Ms. Marvel. After 43 years of this lifetime award, I can understand that it is more men recipients than women. However, I don’t understand the no women. Plenty of women have been building careers in comics over the past 43+ years, despite the challenges they’ve faced. Their hard work and dedication should be recognized.

I think the biggest reason for my disappointment is because the past years’ winner is the head of the nominee selection for the next year. A comic creator was in charge of this and failed to look past gender lines. I don’t know if it was done intentionally or not, but someone who works in the industry failed.

In 2016, isn’t it about time that gender diversity wasn’t an oversight?