Feminism and gender diversity are the focus of this year’s 20th International Comic Salon in Erlangen. “In the past, comics were purely for boys and men,” said festival director Bodo Birk. This was mainly due to the fact that the classic comics were mainly about superheroes, adventures and science fiction. But that has changed in the past ten years with manga and graphic novels, which are often read by girls and young women.

There was also a change among the authors: in Germany, the majority of those who were successful were female, Birk said. “Of course, feminist themes have found their way into comics in recent years along with women.”

From June 16th to 19th, around 20 exhibitions will show the diversity of the art form during the Comic Salon. More than 200 exhibitors will present their new releases at the fair. Around 400 artists will be present to draw live in front of an audience, read from their works or sign them. The organizers expect more than 25,000 visitors.

The exhibition “Role Models – Feminism in Comics and Illustration” deals with feminist comics and the formative influence of artists. Separate exhibitions are also dedicated to the Swedish comic artist Liv Strömquist and her feminist-political studies of everyday life, the former Charlie Hebdo artist Catherine Meurisse and the German artist Birgit Weyhe, who also worked for the Tagesspiegel for a number of years. Another focus is on comics from Africa.

The Comic Salon is considered the largest festival for graphic literature in the German-speaking world. The city of Erlangen organizes this every two years.

In 2020, however, the Comic Salon could only be held digitally due to the corona pandemic. “In terms of sales, the comic market did not initially suffer from the pandemic. Sales in the comics segment have grown encouragingly in some cases,” said Birk. Nevertheless encounters with the readers as well as exchange and stimulation for the artistic development played an essential role as in other literary segments.