It is with deep sadness that we learn of the passing of Claire Bretécher, on February 11th, 2020, at the age of 79. Claire Bretécher turned to comics very early on, “to escape boredom,” she said. Among the pioneers of this literary genre, she imposed a style, a tone, and a quirky look of total originality.
A detached—very detached—observer of her time, she sketched society’s flaws with immense self-deprecation. From Gnangnan to Cellulite, from Les Frustrés to Agrippina, from Spirou to L’Écho des savanes, from Pilote to Le Nouvel Observateur she created a gallery of characters allowing her to take on social subjects that she very often identified well before her contemporaries. So much so that in 1976, Roland Barthes named her as the “sociologist of the year.”
She was also a talented painter, producing a series of striking portraits of her loved ones as well as uncompromising self-portraits.
Her unique graphic style was matched by her unique language (or vice versa). Her sense of dialogue, her inventiveness, and her way of getting to the essence of things were breathtaking.
A figure as unsettling as she was endearing, Claire Bretécher drew a special path for herself in comics. Her humor and freedom of mind were immense, and they will be missed by all her readers. They are already missed.
Agrippina © Claire Bretécher / Dargaud 2010