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An image tribute to France’s Petit Nicolas illustrator Sempé

Jean-Jacques Sempé passed away yesterday at the age of 89. Former Le Monde cartoonist Plantu shares his reaction with us in visual form

A cartoon showing Le Petit Nicolas mourning the death of his founder Jean-Jacques Sempé, pictured on the right Pic: Jean Plantu & Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo

One of France’s best-known cartoonists has shared with The Connexion his image tribute to celebrated illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempé who died yesterday (August 11) at the age of 89. 

Sempé was known internationally as the cartoonist of 106 New Yorker covers, which he created when working at the magazine, and to almost every French person as the co-founder, with René Goscinny, of the Petit Nicolas children’s book series.

Jean Plantu, 70, whose drawings featured daily on Le Monde for almost 49 years until he retired, has sent us his own drawing in honour of Sempé. 

Read more: French cartoonist Plantu retires after 49 years at Le Monde

The Connexion interviewed Plantu in 2007 when he drew an image for readers illustrating the links between the UK and France and we are pleased to be able to share this image today with readers.

Plantu’s image features ‘Le Petit Nicolas’ lying on a psychiatrist’s chair and crying about the death of his creator, while the psychiatrist bursts out laughing reading Mr Sempé's books.

The Petit Nicolas character went on from books to also feature regularly in films and exhibitions. Mr Sempé also collaborated with various other French newspapers such as the regional Sud Ouest and Paris Match

Read more: French cartoonist Plantu retires after 49 years at Le Monde

His drawings – which explored an at once poetic and amusing view of the world – have inspired countless other cartoonists. 

International cartoonists, artists, members from the government and various French personalities have paid tribute to Mr Sempé through messages on social media, often reposting their favourite cartoons with memories from their childhood.

“Jazz, tender irony, a delicate intelligence. From Le Petit Nicolas to the strollers in Saint-Germain-des-Prés by way of Monsieur Lambert, Mr Sempé had the elegance to always remain light without missing a beat,” said President Emmanuel Macron in a tribute tweet.

“Sempé was drawing, he was writing. He was a smile, he was poetry,” Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne tweeted. “He was sometimes a tear in the eye from crying, but tonight [that tear] is from emotion.”

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