Wednesday, August 14, 2019

An illustrated history of Charlie Hebdo

The following is a presentation I gave last week in Toronto at the 102nd Annual Conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

You will find here cartoons from both versions of Charlie Hebdo as well as a few cartoons I drew after the shooting in their offices on January 7th 2015.

Hara-Kiri, a humour magazine that proposed a clear break from lover-in-the-closet gags that was the norm at the time, was founded in September 1960 by François Cavanna and Georges Bernier and featured the drawings by Fred on their covers as well as in their inside pages.

Free admission / Live target shooting

The magazine would soon adopt “bête et méchant” (stupid and nasty) as their slogan.

Reiser, as well as Roland Topor, Willem and Gébé were major contributors to the magazine.

For or against priest’s celibacy ?

In February 1969, a weekly version of Hara-Kiri was created…

… as well as Charlie, a monthly magazine of comics, edited by Georges Wolinski, which ran cartoons by Picha, Guido Crepax, Guido Buzzelli as well as translations of Peanuts.


Guido Crepax

Guido Buzzelli

In the meantime, Hara-Kiri Hebdo ran into trouble in November 1970 when it made a link between a fire in a discotheque which killed 125 people and the death of former President Charles de Gaulle. 

Tragic dance in Colombey (de Gaulle’s home): one dead

The paper was banned by the government...

There is no censorship in France
... but its’ journalists promptly responded by setting up a new weekly, Charlie Hebdo.

Make children: there could be here a little Mozart who will pay for your retirement.

The weekly was irreverent…

Oil spill in Mexico: -Last year I was in Britanny!

... resolutely left wing, pro ecology, against hunting, corridas and nuclear energy. 

The Russians won!

This first version of Charlie Hebdo would survive until December 1981, when it closed due to poor sales and the financial strain of defending themselves in court. 

Hara Kiri, for it’s part, would cease publication in 1985.

Urba, unemployment, hemophiliacs, Superphenix
-And “Charlie Hebdo” making a come- back!

Charlie Hebdo was reborn in 1982. In the interval, Reiser had died of cancer.

Another young girl taken hostage!

Under the direction of humorist Philippe Val and cartoonist Cabu, the revamped Charlie Hebdo would recruit a new generation of cartoonists.

-I think this belongs to you?...

Bernard comments on 10 years of civil war in Algeria.

Good appetite!: 1-Prion, 2-GMO, 3-Dioxin

Another concern, illustrated by Honoré, was tainted beef.

For or against gay marriage? -For! -Against!

Luz, for his part, tackles the hard reality of social advances.

After the “pissing Christ” controversy: Flush all religions.

Accused of Islamophobia and racism, the paper has always responded with the argument that they provided "Equal opportunity offense”.

Cartoonist Tignous and journalist Antonio Fischetti infiltrated 20 religious sects and their articles were compiled in a special edition of the magazine.

Pedophile bishops: -Make a movie, like Polanski...

A big subject was pedophilia in the Catholic church.

The burqa debate was all the rage in France. 


And when 9/11 occurred, no cartoons of Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves was to be found.

New York attack: the black box has been found in Mecca.

Tignous was not afraid to make the link between Saudi Arabia, where the terrorists came from, and te attack.

Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists
-It’s hard to be loved by dicks...

In 2006 Charlie published the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, adding some of their own. Cabu was careful to blame fundamentalists and not Muslims per se.

The offices of Charlie Hebdo was firebombed in 2011 and then, on January 7, 2015, the Kouachi brothers erupted in their offices and killed 11 people. 

The tragedy was soon exploited by white nationalists in Texas who launched a “Draw the Prophet” contest. The endeavor would have been rightly condemned by the five cartoonists concerned.

Here we go again!

Charlie Hebdo would resume weekly publication in late February 2015, six weeks after the attack in their offices. 

It would continue to be a target for jihadists, white nationalists and religious fanatics. Luz also included in his cartoon BFM TV, accused of having, by their live coverage, endangered the life of hostages in the attack, two days after the one against Charlie, on a kosher supermarket where 5 people were killed.

Obama now a citizen like any other.

Some new talents, such as Coco, Félix and Juin, now carry on Charlie Hebdo’s tradition of irreverence.

Three years in a tin can: -The Daech calendar? -We gave alredy!

The journalists now live under permanent police escort, are victims of threats on social networks and must bear the very high cost of their security.

Under the pavement, the beach  /  It is forbidden to forbid

I tried, in this unpublished cartoon, to put myself in the shoes of a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist and draw the practical side of his predicament.

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