Goscinny and Simbe, the parents of “Little Nicholas” and their childhood cracks

A battered child, taken to Paris, his drawings under his arm, and exile His family is bruised by anti-Semitism: for Jean-Jacques Sempy who died on Thursday 11 August just days before his 90th birthday, as for René Goscinny. , create Little Nicholas It was a way to heal the wounds of a scattered childhood.

Chance Calendar, the creative process at the origin of the most famous young schoolboy, the primary hero of children’s literature, and now a double orphan, following Thursday’s death of Simbi, is at the heart of the animated film that must be released in theaters on October 12. Le Petit Nicholas, what are we waiting for to be happy?, Which directors Amandine Friedon and Benjamin Masopry met with Simbee before his death, won the Crystal d’Or at the Annecy Animation Film Festival in June.

Far from the idyllic France of the 1950s traced in their joint works, it shows how the two men drew inspiration from their intimate wounds to create a mischievous little boy, the best friend of generations of readers and has sold 15 million copies.

When he met Simbe in Paris in the 1950s, Goscinny was a young man who had already had his head turned: he had left as a child at the end of the 1920s in Argentina with his parents when anti-Semitism was rising in Europe, then moved on his back between the United States Where he dreams of working with Walt Disney, he meets in particular with Maurice, creator of Lucky Luke, France. Simbi, a child of a working-class family in Bordeaux, who is beaten by his stepfather, goes to Paris, with his drawings under his arm, to try his luck.

So the love of drawing is not the only thing that connects the two young men. create the little nicholas, “It is a story of resilience, of two men whose childhoods were stolen, one by a holocaust and the other by an abusive stepfather, who will create a childhood dream of Little Nicholas,” He explained to AFP Benjamin Masuper, one of the co-directors, during the Annecy Festival.

The opportunity to show these two partners in a different way, pencil in hand, sometimes at home, sometimes on the balcony of a cafe: “Goscinny, far from his image of a franchisor in slippers, is a cosmopolitan,” Simbi is fond of jazz and music. The first sketches, the choice of the first name, almost at random, thanks to an advertisement by wine merchant Nicolas … The film traces the genesis of what would become one of the most widely read works in French heritage.

The directors, working together with Rene Goscinny’s daughter, Anne, were able to use the artists’ archives. Sincerely, recreating Jean-Jacques SempĂ©’s elegant font, which had to be adapted to the screen, was a challenge. “To be faithful to his world, we started from his drawings and made files: restaurants, bars, parks, trees”, To build a database from which designers have drawn, Amandine Friedon, the other director, explains.

“It’s so hard to do simbi”, The director acknowledges. But the bet is successful: the film, now in the form of a farewell, will allow viewers to sit as if they were right there at the table where Jean-Jacques Sempy, pencil in hand, created this little boy who talked a lot to the unhappy child he was.

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