A First For Angoulême: Three Women Nominees For The 2022 Grand Prix!

by Richard Bruton

The Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême is very likely the most prestigious European (hell, perhaps even worldwide) comic festival and every year the announcement of the Grand Prix winner is a major thing. For 2022, history has been made with all three nominees for the Grand Prix being women.

Yes, for the first time, the three nominees for the final Grand Prix award are women – Pénélope Bagieu, Julie Doucet and Catherine Meurisse.

Since 2014, the Angoulême Grand Prix has been awarded after a voting process, with any professional comic author published in France eligible to vote. The first stage of the selection of the 2022 Grand Prix took place from 21st to 27th February, narrowing down the long list to the final three.

Angoulême’s Grand Prix is recognition of important work in the comics medium, often the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. Since first established at the first festival in 1974, it’s been given to a veritable who’s who of comics, although obviously skewed towards European creators, including André Franquin (1974), Will Eisner (1975), Moebius/Jean Giraud (1981), Jean-Claude Mézières (1984), Enki Bilal (1987), André Juillard (1996), Robert Crumb (1999), José Antonio Muñoz (2007), Art Spiegelman (2011), Bill Watterson (2014), and Katsuhiro Otomo (2015), with the two most recent recipients being 2020’s Emmanuel Guibert and 2021’s Chris Ware.

However, only two women, only two women, Florence Cestac (2000) and Rumiko Takahashi (2019) have ever won the prize. So having an all-female final three is a much-needed thing. Indeed, the lack of female representation on the Grand Prix list in 2016, where there were no women even on the longlist, led to 12 of the 30 nominees to withdraw their names.

The festival announced it thus…

“Since 2014, the Grand Prix of the Angoulême International Comics Festival has been awarded following a vote by professional comic creators. The first round of the 2022 Grand Prix, which took place from 21 to 27 February is now over. The three comic artists with who garnered the most votes are in alphabetical order : Pénélope Bagieu, Julie Doucet and Catherine Meurisse. For the first time, all three nominees are women. During the second round (2 to 8 March), the same panel of comic authors will elect the winner from among the above three nominees. The winner will be announced at the Festival on March 16th.”

The winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême will normally preside over the following year’s festival and there will be a special exhibit dedicated to their lifetime’s work.

This year, no matter who wins, it will be a much needed, well deserved win for one of so many worthy and talented female comic creators the world over. And hopefully, the future for Angoulême, just like the future of comics, will see female creators coming to the fore.

The Angoulême festival takes place this year on 17-20 March and the winner will be announced on 16 March.

Now, for those of you who aren’t aware, here are the official Angoulême biographies of all three nominees for the 2022 Grand Prix d’Angoulême.


Pénélope Bagieu was born in 1982 in Paris. After studying at the Arts Déco in Paris, then at Central Saint Martins in London, she created “Ma vie est tout à fait fascinante” in 2007, a blog in which she describes the daily life of a young Parisian with a humour and grace that hit home. The success of the book quickly spread to bookstores. She imagined the adventures of Joséphine and drew for the press and advertising. She wrote her first long story with Cadavre exquis, in 2010, then her first biography with California Dreamin’ (Harvey Award 2018). In 2016, the feminist dimension of her work took on a new dimension with the publication of portraits of women under the title Culottées. The success is resounding. Translated into 20 languages and awarded an Eisner Award in 2019, the two volumes of Culottées were also adapted into an animated version by France TV. In 2020, the author signed for the first time a comic book for children with a brilliant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel Sacrées Sorcières and in 2022 she tackled her first autobiography with Les Strates.

Pénélope Bagieu © Eva Cagin


Julie Doucet, born in 1965 in Montreal, is one of the most important comic book artists of the end of the last century. After studying visual arts at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal in the early 1980s, she enrolled at the Université du Québec à Montréal, where she completed a certificate in printing arts. During her studies, she discovered comics and began publishing a photocopied fanzine: Dirty Plotte, in which she documented her daily life, her dreams and her anxieties in French and English. The title was picked up in 1991 by the Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly, which published them. After living in New York, Seattle and Berlin, Julie Doucet returned to Montreal where she lives and works, now operating in a field closer to graphic arts (collage, poetry, photo novels). Her work, which she publishes in limited editions in silkscreen, is sometimes published by Drawn & Quarterly. In 2018, essayist Anne-Elizabeth Moore published a study on Julie Doucet’s work(Sweet Little Cunt: The Graphic Work of Julie Doucet), which she sees as a precursor of a new feminism in comics.

Julie Doucet © Kate Mada


Catherine Meurisse was born in 1980. After studying modern literature, she went on to study at the École Estienne and then at the École nationale supérieure des Arts décoratifs in Paris. Catherine Meurisse is a draughtswoman, author, cartoonist, reporter and illustrator of children’s books. She honed her eye and her line for fifteen years in numerous press titles (The WorldLiberationLes EchosL’Obs…) and more particularly to Charlie Hebdo. She makes comics where there is no room for seriousness. After My Men of LettersThe Art Bridge (Sarbacane), Modern Olympia (Futuropolis) and Funny Women (Dargaud, with Julie Birmant), she published in 2016 Lightness. The story of his return to life, to drawing and to memory, after the attack against Charlie Hebdo which she escaped. After the shameless Scenes from hormonal life appears The Great Spaces (Dargaud), an evocation of her childhood in the countryside, in which tasty memories and an aesthetic and political awareness of the rural landscape are combined. In 2019, she will publish DelacroixHis new album, “The Story of Alexandre Dumas”, is a very personal graphic adaptation of the memoirs of Alexandre Dumas, a great friend of the painter Eugène Delacroix. Her new album, The Young Woman and the Sea questions the place of Man in nature and the use of art to capture disappearing landscapes. In 2020, the year in which a major retrospective exhibition was devoted to her at the BPI of the Centre Pompidou, Catherine Meurisse became the first comic book author to become a member of the Académie des beaux-arts.

Catherine Meurisse © Dargaud/Rita Scaglia


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