French Minister of Culture honors eight creators

Eight creators were named last week as Knights of France's Order of Arts and Letters in recognition of their contributions to arts and literature.

Fleur Pellerin, the French Minister of Culture, made the announcement Thursday at the opening night of the Angouleme International Comics Festival. The creators are: Julie Maroh, Chloé Cruchaudet, Aurélie Neyret, Tanxxx, Marguerite Abouet, Christophe Blain, Mathieu Sapi, and Riad Sattouf.

Pellerin also elevated publisher Jacques Glénat to the rank of Officer, the rung above Knight in the order (Commander is the highest of the three grades). It's notable that five of those Pellerin chose to honor were female, perhaps offering a history lesson to Angouleme executive director Franck Bondoux.

Maroh is probably the best known of those creators in English-speaking circles, because her graphic novel Blue Is the Warmest Color was adapted into a controversial film. Sattouf's autobiographical Arab of the Future won the top prize at Angouleme last year and is also available in English. Abouet, who was born in Cote d'Ivoire and moved to France at age 12, is the author of the Aya of Yop City books, which are published in English by Drawn and Quarterly; her work was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2008 and won an Ignatz in 2007. Blain is the artist of Weapons of Mass Diplomacy and the Isaac the Pirate series.

Although their comics don't seem to be available in English, Cruchaudet and Neyret won awards at Angouleme last year, Cruchaudet for her Mauvais Genre and Neyret for the second volume of her children's series, Les carnets de Cerise. (Neyret illustrated a children's book by Cece Meng, Bedtime Is Cancelled.) Arnault, who goes by the pen name Tanxxx, was the 2009 winner of the prix Artémisia, which honors women creators of French-language comics. And Sapin is an interesting creator: He started out doing mainly children's comics, but he also did some satirical work, including a superhero spoof. His graphic novel Campagne présidentielle recounts the presidential campaign of Francois Hollande, who was elected president in 2012, and a year later he was granted access behind the scenes of the presidential palace to create another graphic novel, Le Château.

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