Thursday, July 03, 2014

Roger "Tetsu" Testu 1913-2008

I didn't know Roger (alternately rederenced as Robert) Testu, a French cartoonist who passed away last week. But as soon as I saw "Tetsu," at Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter obituary, I knew his cartoon work.

In the corner of most all of his cartoons, was a neat, cursive "Tetsu" signature.

The bulk of the cartoons that I've seen by Tetsu are from the above slim Ace paperback titled FRENCH POSTCARDS, copyright 1954 Avon Publications, Inc. (The cover is by another cartoonist, "Bil.")

Born in Bourges, a year before the start of the Great War, Robert (some sources say "Roger") Tetsu was a painter until the 1950s, when he began to cartoon.

I have less than a dozen of his cartoons, but I remember his distinctive treatment of form and posture.

The stance in the above cartoon is just right to convey what our deep sea diver is up to. It's touches like this, combined with his depiction of "saucy antics ... from the country that made you-know-what famous" (that's actual back cover copy from this paperback book) that made Tetsu a cartoonist who sold well.

Hats add so much to a drawing. I wish people wore more hats.

His cartoon work appeared in Paris Match, and Sunday Here Paris. This meant that his cartoons were coming into the average 1950s Parisian home every week.

The put-upon slouch of the goldfish-buyer adds to the gag.

What surprises me personally is that I know his work from just a handful of his cartoons from an obscure American paperback. I wish I had some more to share.

A big tip of the hat to Dirk Deppey's Journalista!, where I first heard of Tetsu's passing. And Dirk further lets us know that "his work was also compiled in at least two cartoon albums, La Vie est Belle and La Vie à Deux."

More Tetsu cartoons here.

-- This originally appeared on February 6, 2008.

1 comment:

Trade Loeffler said...

Thanks for posting, Mike. My only familiarity with Tetsu's work is stuff I'd seen posted on your blog. The diver cartoon is one of my absolute favorite gag cartoons of all time. It's one that I've always remembered from when you'd posted it before. It's perfect. What a fantastic cartoonist.