An investigation for the dissemination of child pornography images was opened this week against the author of comic strips Bastien Vivès and two publishing houses that published some of his works, the Nanterre prosecutor’s office said on Friday January 6, requested by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
This preliminary investigation, entrusted to the brigade for the protection of minors, targets the 38-year-old author, figure of the 9e art, as well as the publishing houses Glénat and Les Requins Marteaux which published three of his works in 2011 and 2018, said the Nanterre prosecution and a source familiar with the matter. Contacted, the Glénat publishing house could not be reached immediately.
“Under the pretext of humor”
The investigation was opened after the filing of a complaint at the end of December 2022 by the Foundation for Children association. This complaint, elements of which had been revealed by Franceinfoaims at three comics that “deliver representations of minors, in sexually explicit situations, undoubtedly presenting a pornographic character”. These three comics are called Little Paul (Glénat, 2018), The Mental Dump (Hammerhead Sharks, 2018) and Melons of Wrath (Hammerhead Sharks, 2011).
In this last work, “Bastien Vivès directs Magalie, a young underage girl who is repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped”describes The Children’s Foundation, quoted by Franceinfo. “Incestuous relationships are also staged between Magalie and her brother, Petit Paul”of which “lack of consent” is “presented as obvious”continues the association.
Another association, Innocence in danger, also filed a complaint with the Paris prosecutor’s office at the end of December against Mr. Vivès and the same publishing houses, considering that these three comics were part of the dissemination of child pornography images, but also of “incitement to commit sexual assaults on minors” and “dissemination to a minor of violent messages”.
At this stage, the complaint filed in Paris has not been joined to Nanterre’s investigations. 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”said Friday Me Girard to AFP.
Report without follow-up in 2019
These complaints have reignited the controversy around the works of Mr. Vivès, presented by his readers as simple gritty tales or parodies. The person concerned had made it known in December, on Instagram, that he had no “at no time wanted to hurt victims of crimes and sexual abuse”. He also said “condemn pedocrime, as well as its apology and its trivialization”.
In 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.
Already in 2018, after the publication of Little Paul which 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 closed without further action by the Nanterre prosecutor’s office for “no offence” in February 2019.