Lewis Trondheim (creator of the Angoulême mascot), Jacques Tardi, Jaime Hernandez, Alison Bechdel, Warren Ellis, Dylan Horrocks, Kate Beaton, Eleanor Davis, Ben Katchor, Jeet Heer, and Palestine Comics festival expand on 2014 letter to Angoulême Festival
More than 80 cartoonists and other workers in the comics industry, including colorists, writers, critics, and editors, from over 20 countries, signed an open letter released today addressed to Franck Bondoux, the head of the International Festival of Comics at Angoulême, which opens in France on January 29th.
The letter, a follow up to a 2014 letter, demands that he sever ties between
the Festival and Sodastream, an Israeli
manufacturing company complicit in the occupation of Palestinian land. The authors of the letter include 10 prize winners at Angoulême itself, two winners of the MacArthur "Genius Grant," many
Eisner and Ignatz awardees, and a Palestinian cartoonist previously imprisoned for his work by the Israeli military.
The organizers of the letter also released an accompanying statement, in the wake of the slaying of cartoonists Wolinski, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous and Charb, among many others in Paris this month. “These horrific acts of violence compel artists of the world to act urgently for a world where the dignity, freedom, and equality of all people are respected and promoted,” said cartoonist Ethan Heitner and writer Dror Warschawski, organizers of the open letter. “We affirm that the Palestinian boycott movement is one important step towards that vision, and we urge others to join us.”
The 2015 letter expands on its predecessor in several key ways. Its signatories include workers in the comics industry beyond cartoonists, including critics Jeet Heer and former heads of the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée Thierry Groensteen and Gilles Ciment, and organizers of the first-ever festival of comics held in Palestine, Palestine Comics, which opened in November of 2014.
The letter also addresses itself beyond Angoulême, to "all festivals, conventions, and celebrations of comics and cartooning art in which we participate." Finally, the letter expands its target beyond Sodastream, to all “Israeli companies and institutions" complicit in ethnic cleansing, discrimination, and war crimes. Noting that Israel's assault on Gaza in the summer 2014 alone killed over 2,100 Palestinians, the signatories urge, “No business as usual with Israel.”
Open letter to:
Monsieur Franck Bondoux
Direction du Festival international de la bande dessinée
71 rue Hergé
We, cartoonists, illustrators, writers, editors, distributors, translators, critics and workers in the comic book industry, alongside people of conscience from countries all over the world, re-affirm our February 2014 call for the Angoulême International Comics Festival to drop all ties with the Israeli company Sodastream. Furthermore, we urge the Angoulême Festival, and all festivals, conventions, and celebrations of comics and cartooning art in which we participate, to reject any partnership, funding, or co-operation with any Israeli company or institution that does not explicitly promote freedom and justice for Palestinians, as well as equal rights and equality for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, including the Israeli government and its local consulates, so long as Israel continues to deny Palestinians their rights.
Today, the Sodastream company proudly boasts of its factory’s location in the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, which makes it complicit in the crime of military occupation. However, even if Sodastream, thanks in part to the pressure campaign launched last year, moved its manufacturing to the Negev (where Palestinian Bedouins are facing eviction from their ancestral lands by Israeli government’s Prawer Plan) it, and other Israeli companies and institutions, are part of a system built on the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities and sustained through racism and discrimination. It, and other Israeli companies, contribute to the economy of a state which conducted a brutal military assault against a civilian population in Gaza in the summer of 2014, resulting in over 2,100 deaths, including over 500 children.
We cannot accept our art being used to whitewash these crimes, as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs has explicitly stated it will attempt to do through its “Brand Israel” campaign. Angoulême, a center of appreciation for comics internationally, should not be used in this manner.
We again urge you to sever ties between the Festival and Sodastream, and we extend our call to directors and organizers, editors and associations of comics and illustration around the globe. No “business as usual” with lsrael!
Leila Abdul Razaq (USA), Zainab Akhtar (UK), Khalid Albaih (Sudan/Qatar), Albertine (Switzerland), Hilary Allison (USA), Enzo Apicella (Italy), Alex Baladi (Switzerland), Edd Baldry (UK/France), Edmond Baudoin (France, 3 Angoulême prizes), Kate Beaton (Canada), Alison Bechdel (USA), Sofiane Belaskri (Algeria), Faiza Benaouda (Algeria), Peter Blegvad (USA/UK, Angoulême prize in 2014), David Brothers Paul Buhle (USA), Nicole Burton (Canada), Jennifer Camper (USA), Gilles Ciment (France, former director of the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée in Angoulême from 2007 to 2014), Rob Clough (USA), Sean T. Collins (USA), Gianluca Costantini (Italy), Jean-Luc Coudray (France, Angoulême prize in 1990), Philippe Coudray (France, Angoulême prize in 2011), Molly Crabapple (USA), Pino Creanza (Italy), Marguerite Dabaie (USA), Bira Dantas (Brazil), Eleanor Davis (USA), Marcel « Lidwine » De la Gare (France, Angoulême prize in 1999), Dror (France), Warren Ellis (UK), Magdy El Shafee (Egypt), elchicotriste (Spain), Brigitte Findakly (France), Ganzeer (Egypt/USA), Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz (USA), Graphic History Collective (Sam Bradd, Sean Carleton, Robin Folvik, Mark Leier, Trevor McKilligan, Julia Smith) (Canada), Dominique Grange (France), Thierry Groensteen (France, former director of the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée in Angoulême from 1993 to 2001), Jeet Heer (Canada), Ethan Heitner (USA), Delphine Hermans (Belgium), Anaële Hermans (Belgium), Jaime Hernandez (USA), Dylan Horrocks (nominated for 2 Angoulême prizes in 2002, New Zealand), Igort (Italy, nominated in Angoulême in 2003), Hatem Imam (Lebanon), Jiho (France), Monica Johnson (USA), Ben Katchor (USA), Mazen Kerbaj (Lebanon), Peter Kuper (USA), Carlos Latuff (Brazil), Wilfrid Lupano (France), Rodolphe « Ohazar » Lupano (France), Katie Miranda (USA), Anne Elizabeth Moore (USA), Mric (France), José Muñoz (Argentina, 3 Angoulême prizes and Grand Prix in 2007), Ernest Pignon-Ernest (France), Maël Rannou (France), Patricia Réaud (France), Barrack Rima (Lebanon/Belgium), Mohammad Sabaaneh (Palestine), Amitai Sandy (Israel), Gabby Schulz (USA), Siné (France), Jean Solé (France), Philippe Squarzoni (France, nominated in Angoulême in 2003), Sylvain-Moizie (France, Angoulême prize in 2000 and in residence at the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée in Angoulême in 2014-2015), Tardi (France, 5 Angoulême prizes and Grand Prix in 1985), Seth Tobocman (USA), Lewis Trondheim (France, 2 Angoulême prizes and Grand Prix in 2006, creator of the Angoulême mascot), Guillaume Trouillard (France), Willis From Tunis (Tunisia), Jordan Worley (USA), Wozniak (France/Poland), yAce (France), Germano Zullo (Switzerland)
Last years’s letter: