Invisible Presence (Book)
The Representation of Women in French-Language Comics
First study of the representation of women in French-language graphic novels (bandes dessinées). Using a two-pronged approach of historical and case-study analysis, and a chronological span of over a century, it provides the fullest examination to date of female depiction in Francophone sequential art. 16 plates, 7 col. 9 b/w.
This book looks at the representation of female characters in French comics from
their first appearance in 1905. Organised into three sections, the book looks at the representation of women as main characters created by men, as secondary
characters created by men, and as characters created by women.
It focuses on female characters, both primary and secondary, in the francophone
comic or bande dessinée, as well as the work of female bande dessinée creators
more generally. Until now these characters and creators have received relatively
little scholarly attention; this new book is set to change this status quo.
Using feminist scholarship, especially from well-known film and literary theorists, the book asks what it means to draw women from within a phallocentric, male-
dominated paradigm, as well as how the particular medium of bande dessinée, its
form as well as its history, has shaped dominant representations of women.
This is the first book to study the representation of women in the French-language
drawn strip. There are no other works with this specific focus, either on women in
Franco-Belgian comics, or on the drawn representation of women by men.
This is a very useful addition to both general discussions of French-language comics, and to discussions of women’s comics, which are focused on comics by women only.
As it is written in English, and due to the popularity of comic art in Britain and the
United States, this book will primarily appeal to an Anglo-American market.
However, the cultural and gender studies approach this text employs (theoretical
frameworks still not widely seen in non-Anglophone studies of the bande dessinée) will ensure that the text is also of interest to a Franco-Belgian audience.
This book will appeal both to an academic and to a more general readership with an interest in popular comic art.
It will be useful to academics, researchers and students (undergraduates and
postgraduates) in comic art, art history, contemporary art, French studies, gender
studies, feminist studies and media studies. Excellent potential for inclusion on
With a focus on an art-form which also inspires a lot of public (non-academic)
enthusiasm, it will also appeal to fans of the bande dessinée (or wider comic art
medium) who are interested in the representation of women in comic art, and to
comics scholars on a broad scale.
Catriona MacLeod is a lecturer in French Studies and Politics at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP). Her research interests concern women in French-language graphic novels (bandes dessinées) and narratives of trauma and migration in bandes dessinées and caricatures.