Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Claire Bretécher 1940 - 2020

Above: Claire Bretécher at work in 1979. Photo by Jean Luce Huré.

One of the first female cartoonists to break into France's male-dominated comic culture, Claire Bretécher, "a satirical, fearless and lacerating French comic artist" died on February 10 in Paris. She was 79. The announcement was made by her publisher, Darguad, which provided no further details.

From the New York Times:

"Ms. Bretécher (pronounced bruh-tay-SHAY) became a celebrated cartoonist in the 1970s, and her comic strips were a fixture in French newspapers and magazines for decades. Her work also appeared around the world; in the United States she was published in Ms. magazine, Esquire and National Lampoon.

"She brought a mordant wit to gender issues and was so incisive about the human condition that in 1976 the philosopher Roland Barthes called her the 'best sociologist of the year.'"

Above: a 1974 self-portrait drawn for the magazine Schtroumpf.

Claire Bretécher was the first satirist who "meticulously and subtly captured the behavior and conversations of both the adult and adolescent female in her two signature series 'Les Frustrés' (1973-1981) and 'Agrippine' (1988-2009), all in her trademark loose and sketchy trait." (Lambiek)

From Claire Bretécher’s popular strip La Page des Frustés (The Frustrated) which appeared weekly from 1974 to the mid-1980s in France, and reprinted in the US in National Lampoon. The above page is from the 1978 paperback collection National Lampoon Presents Claire Bretécher. Image from the Slings and Arrows site.

A couple of one-page strips about the teenage girl Agrippina (Agrippine in France). The long-running series was the subject of four collections, originally self-published by Bretécher, as well as an animated series. Hat tip to Slings and Arrows once again for the scan.

Here is the first episode of the Agrippine Canal+ TV series from 2001. 

A 1977 interview with Claire Bretécher answering questions while drawing:

The Daily Cartoonist has an excellent appreciation of her life and many good links.

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