Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Trash collection goes high tech

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users react to escalating violence in Gaza

Read more

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

  • Germany defeat Argentina 1-0 to win World Cup

    Read more

  • Thousands flee northern Gaza after Israel warning

    Read more

  • Clashes erupt in Paris as thousands march to support Palestinians

    Read more

  • Major differences remain as deadline looms in Iran nuclear talks

    Read more

  • Paris’s Bastille Day fireworks ‘a homage to victims’ of WWI

    Read more

  • Rival Libyan militias exchange heavy fire at Tripoli airport

    Read more

  • French military to extend Mali 'counterterrorism' operations into Sahel

    Read more

  • Legendary conductor Lorin Maazel dies aged 84

    Read more

  • Germany’s Tony Martin wins ninth stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Boko Haram claims Nigeria attacks and supports Iraqi militants

    Read more

  • French court lifts mayor’s ban on Muslim hijab at beach

    Read more

  • Shells land in Russia as eastern Ukrainians flee fighting

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament fails to agree on new leadership

    Read more

  • Afghan presidential candidates agree to full vote audit, Kerry says

    Read more

France

New Yorker icon opens French comic book festival

©

Text by Guillaume LOIRET

Latest update : 2010-01-29

Sempé, famous for “Le Petit Nicolas” and front page pictures on The New Yorker, opened France’s premier comic book festival. Getting the man who doesn’t like to be associated with the genre was a big coup for the organisers.

 

The guest of honour at this year’s Angouleme comic book festival is Jean-Jacques Sempé, creator of “Le Petit Nicolas” whose unique and startling cartoons have graced the covers of The New Yorker since 1978.
 
Comic books and graphic novels are a very big deal in France. They occupy huge sections of most bookshops, and pride of place on bookshelves across the country.
 
The annual “BD” (Bande Dessinée, literally “Drawn Strip”) festival at Angouleme, running since 1974, is the genre’s holy of holies.
 
A Frenchman in New York
 
Speaking to a rapt audience at the opening of the festival on Thursday, Sempé explained how he first fell in love with east-coast America on a visit in 1965.
 
The artist was totally unknown in the US at the time. In France, he was famous for his artwork in “Le Petit Nicolas”, a children’s book written by Asterix author René Goscinny  and which first appeared in 1959.
 
Sempé also fell in love with The New Yorker. The weekly magazine, a high-brow intellectual publication dedicated to politics, culture, art as well as high quality cartoons,   has been in print since 1925.
 
But it would be more than a decade before Sempé’s pictures would grace the pages of this cultural icon of the American media. His aristocratic sense of humour, the elegance of his forms, and “Monsieur Lambert”, the trademark “gentleman” featured in many of his pictures, appealed to the editors.
 
His first front page on August 14, 1978, was a memorable picture of a bird with a human head, wearing a bow tie and sitting on a high New York building, contemplating the city beneath.
 
Nothing to do with comics
 
Over the next three decades, The New Yorker would publish many scores of Sempé’s unique pastiches on life in the “Big Apple” – capturing scenes in Central Park, the sky scrapers of Broadway, the contrasting images of a flautist or ballerina set against the stark background of the gritty city. There are recurrent themes and characters of birds, cats and especially bicycles (a firm favourite owing to Sempé’s days as a cycle courier).
 
Despite these ties, Sempé was never tempted to settle on the other side of the pond. “I can barely speak their language,” he admitted. “And I don’t sit there drawing scenes in front of me, I do it all from my studio, from memory.”
 
Sempé believes his pictures are neither cartoons nor comic strips, in fact, he hates being associated with the “BD” genre. Ironically, this is why his presence centre-stage at Angouleme is such a coup for the organisers. 
 

He prefers to call his works “stories-in-a-picture” and compares them to the jazz music he loves. “What jazz and humourous pictures have in common is that they suggest so much”, Sempé said

 

 

Date created : 2010-01-29

  • CULTURE

    Comic fans flock to 37th Angoulême festival

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)