In the face of an atrocity like today’s terrorist attack against the magazine Charlie Hebdo, a blog such as this has little to say. Only that our thoughts and sympathy are with the victims, both dead and injured, and with their families.
Among the cartoonists and comic artists killed was Cabu (Jean Cabut). To honor him and all the other victims, here is a page he made for the Journal de Spirou‘s Galerie des illustres (#3930).
Along with this cartoon there was an interview.
His calling came to him when he was ten, when he sketched a pen that could draw on its own. Sixty-four years later, this eternal kid, a “journalist who draws,” continues to share his joys and rages over the course of uncountable illustrations.
Peter Pan and an attic. Two childhood dreams?
Yes, absolutely. I’m lucky enough to have an attic where a bunch of old thing can pile up… and my drawings. I look at them sometimes. Since they are drawings of current events, they are like a diary to me.
Were you a Spirou reader?
Later on. My parents enrolled me into the Cœurs vaillants (“Brave Hearts”), which were kind of a poor man’s boyscouts. The only good thing about it was that I received the weekly magazine Cœur vaillant which published Tintin. So I grew up on Hergé’s illustrations. Spirou became one of my favorite magazines when I was 16.
Did you draw a lot?
Definitely. At ten, I won a contest in Tintin sponsored by Météore pens. I drew a pen that wrote all by itself, and a kid looking on with his feet on the table. My dad and I came to Paris – my first time there – to receive my prize, a bike, at the Winter Velodrome that no longer exists. That’s when I decided to become an artist. I copied drawings by great humorists like Dubout and Franquin. Yes, it’s possible to love both!
Where did you study?
I studied advertising illustration at the Graduate School of Arts and Printing Industry (in Paris), but I never worked in that industry. At sixteen I had my first drawing published in the newspaper L’Union de Reims. Then very quickly I was able to sell my work to weeklies like Ici France, France Dimanche, to the daily France-Soir…
After the army, you came to Hara-Kiri (a classic satirical magazine)…
And then Pilote, just like that?
After Hara-Kiri was banned in March 1962, Cavanna couldn’t pay us any more. Dargaud had just bought Pilote from Radio Luxembourg. I went to see Goscinny, who got me to draw the Potachologie, and I began Le Grand Duduche, for which I drew on my memories of high school in Châlons.
Now your cartoons run in Le Canard Enchaîné and Charlie Hebdo.
Not all of them. Every week, the artists bring 130 illustrations to the Canard, which picks some thirty of them. A good lesson in modesty!
Your cartoons, with their left-wing message, have they ever won over a right-wing voter?
I don’t know. But they make me feel better. When something strongly upsets you, drawing is a very effective outlet. I don’t know many cartoonists who need a shrink!
You defend the right to blasphemy. What is that?
Church and state have been separated in France since 1905. There is therefore a right to criticize and to ridicule – not all believers, but the fanatics who want to overturn the laws of the republic in the name of the “laws of God.” That’s what we’re doing at Charlie Hebdo.