An investigation for the dissemination of child pornography was opened this week in Nanterre against the author of comic books Bastien Vivès and two of his publishing houses, after a complaint filed by a child protection association. .
This preliminary investigation, entrusted to the brigade for the protection of minors, targets the 38-year-old author, Glénat and Les Requins Marteaux, who published three of his works in 2011 and 2018, the Nanterre prosecutor’s office told AFP on Friday and a source familiar with the matter.
Contacted by AFP, Glénat editions could not be reached immediately. The investigation was opened after the filing of a complaint at the end of December by the Foundation for Children association with the Nanterre prosecutor’s office. This complaint, elements of which had been revealed by Franceinfo, targets three works: Melons of Wrath (Hammerhead Sharks, 2011), The Mental Dump (Hammerhead Sharks, 2018) and Little Paul (Glénat, 2018).
These comics “deliver representations of minors, in sexually explicit situations, undoubtedly presenting a pornographic character”, according to the complaint. In Melons of Wrath, “Bastien Vivès directs Magalie, a young underage girl who is repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped”describes the Children’s Foundation, quoted by Franceinfo.
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“Incestuous relationships are also staged between Magalie and her brother, Petit Paul”whose “lack of consent” is “presented as obvious”, continues the association. In the midst of controversy, Bastien Vivès apologized in December, assuring on Instagram that he had “at no time intended to hurt victims of crimes and sexual abuse” and “condemn child crime, as well as its apology and trivialization”.
Another association, Innocence in danger, also filed a complaint with the Paris prosecutor’s office at the end of December, considering that these three comics were part of the dissemination of child pornography images but also of incitement to the commission of sexual assaults on minors and the dissemination to a minor of violent messages.
“Under the pretext of humor”
At this stage, the complaint in Paris has not been joined to the investigations in Nanterre. However, the lawyer for Innocence in danger, Delphine Girard, welcomed the opening of the investigation in Nanterre, hoping that “effective prosecutions and that the rights of children are respected”.
“It is not bearable that we can undermine the representation of minors, and that images of sexual abuse, under the pretext of humor, can be disseminated”Me Girard told AFP on Friday.
These complaints have reignited the controversy around the works of Mr. Vivès, presented by his readers as simple gritty tales or parodies, like The Melons of Angervague parody of The Grapes of Wrath where a peasant teenager is raped by several men from her village.
Already in 2018, after the publication of Little Paulwhich depicts a child with a disproportionate penis having sexual relations with adult women, the Glénat editions had affirmed that“As obscene and provocative as it may be considered, this work of fiction is never intended to play down, promote or legitimize the abuse of minors in any way whatsoever”.
A report, sent at the time by the association Face à l’inceste, requesting the withdrawal of this comic strip had been dismissed by the Nanterre prosecution in February 2019 for “no offence”. Last December, an online petition demanding the deprogramming of the exhibition “In the eyes of Bastien Vivès”, scheduled for the Angoulême Festival at the end of January, collected 92,000 signatures. The festival management announced the cancellation of the exhibition, citing “threat” against the author and the organizers.