Four French creators refuse Order of Arts and Letters honor

Four of the eight cartoonists honored last week by the French government as Knights of the Order of Arts and Letters have refused the title, condemning it as a publicity stunt.

Julie Maroh, Chloé Cruchaudet, TanXXX and Aurélie Neyret have announced publicly they will not accept the honor, which recognizes contributions to arts and literature in France. However, Riad Sattouf, author of Arab of the Future, released a statement saying he'll "accept it with pleasure."

"Being of Franco-Syrian origin," he wrote, "and coming from a humble background, I grew up with help from the Republican State: I owe them many years of family benefits, without I would not have eaten, and several decades of housing subsidies, without which I would not have had a roof over my head, and several decades of diverse and varied scholarships , without which I could not have gone to school."

Maroh, author of Blue Is the Warmest Color, pointed out on her website that five of the eight creators recognized had signed the BDEgalite charter against sexism, which sparked calls for a boycott of the Angouleme International Comics Festival following its all-male list of Grand Prix nominees. She wrote:

It did not escape anyone that this promotion was "exceptional" and that among the eight honorees were five young [female] creators who were signatories of the charter against sexism, as well as Riad Sattouf and Christophe Blain, all caught up in the web of media buzz linked to the boycott of the 2016 Grand Prix d'Angouleme in recent weeks.

What's more, to ensure that everyone knew that this was a woman, the minister did not hesitate to reveal the last name of Tanxxx, without any consideration of her right to pseudonymity.

In case her intention was still not obvious enough, Minister Fleur Pellerin stipulated in a tweet that our mass dubbing was not only linked to FIBD [the Angouleme International Comics Festival] but also to the controversy around the Grand Prix via the hashtag #womendobd, which created the buzz.

Blain and Sattouf were Grand Prix nominees who withdrew their names to protest the absence of women from the original longlist.

"No matter what angle I attack this from, it smells like my socks after four days at the festival," TanXXX wrote, adding, "I have too much respect for my job, too much love for the culture that supports me, and my feet too much in the muck to be dazzled by this tin medal."

On her Facebook page, Neyret also said she hadn't been contacted and that she felt the Knight designation was not about her work but rather a political stunt. And, she added, "Beyond this illegitimate and political aspect of this award, it should be noted that to receive this title (assuming that we are personally invited some day) we must pay 100 Euros. Seriously? The day after the study conducted by the Etats Généraux de la BD, which showed that more than one out of two creators cannot make a living at their craft, and that half the women in comics live below the poverty line, and with the RAAP [a tax on creators] imposing a reform on us that will end up bleeding the profession white, the response of the Minister is to give us—no, sorry, to sell us—medals?"

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