This week, we have learned about the passing of two pioneer and icons of European comics. Claire Bretécher, a pioneer in the world of French comics, passed away on Monday February 10 at the age of 79. Hubert Boulart, writer and colorist, passed away on Thursday February 13 at the age of 49.
It’s hard to describe the influence of Bretécher on the world of comics. She wrote several critically acclaimed series, including Frustrés and Agrippine, the latter of which had been adapted into a popular cartoon show. She became a cartoonist to, as she said “escape boredom”. Her work featured a wide array of characters that allowed her to touch upon societal issues, often times before her contemporaries. Philosopher Roland Barthes said in 1976 that she was “the best sociologist of the year” for her understanding of social issues.
Throughout her career, she established a style, a tone and an original look at human life. She was a fine observer of culture and society and used that knowledge to create engaged and interesting work with a touch of self-deprecation and humanity. She was widely named as someone deserving of the Angoulême Grand Prix in 2016 (though she did get an anniversary award that year).
Her career spanned decades, starting in the 1960’s where after a short-lived passage through a Fine Arts education, she began teaching illustration and provided political cartoons for newspapers. She also worked on several other magazines including Le Nouvel Observateurs in which she ran her weekly comic Frustrés.
Her publisher Dargaud described her in a press release as such: “Her personality was as abrasive as it was apealing, Claire Bretécher’s path in the world of comics was unique. Her sense of humour and her free-spirited attitudes were immense. She will be missed by her readers. We already miss her.”
Hubert Boulard is better known under is pen name Hubert. He was know for his English work with Kerascöet on the series Miss Don’t Touch Me as well as Beauty (who in my opinion is one the best comics ever published). He had a long career in the European comics world, notably for his work on the series Le Legs de l’alchimiste.
He received the Jacques-Lob awards for his work in the arts in 2015. His upcoming work Peau d’homme, a poetic look on sexual identity illustrated by cartoonist Zanzim, is due to be published on April 22 in Europe. It’s a
His publisher Glénat described him in a press release as such: “We wish to salute the talent and words of this author whose books were filled with wisdom, comedy and intelligence. We will miss a man who was engaged, particularly in the defense of authors rights and who, in all circumstances was elegant and profoundly tender and friendly.”
You should seek out their work if you don’t know it yet. Hubert’s Beauty and Miss Don’t Touch Me are available from NBM publishing and while Claire Bretécher’s work is mostly out of print in English, you can find some digital copies of selected work online.