Simbe, the genius of drawing humor, the goldsmith of fine hair and the father of “Little Nicolas”

Designer Jean-Jacques Simbi passed away on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at the age of 89. Put this formidable painter in pictures of adventures Little NicholasI imagined him with Rene Goscinny, and he fascinated the world with his funny and poetic drawings, published in the press and collected in albums. From 1978, one hundred of his drawings have appeared on the cover of the newspaper New Yorker.

Last week, Paris Match published a drawing of Simbi with raw accents with the caption: “Remember not to forget me.”

Born on August 17, 1932 in Bordeaux, Jean-Jacques Sempy was a “normal” child who grew up in the Southwest with his two sisters, his mother and stepfather “Mr. Sempy”, a salesperson. The atmosphere does not look good in this house where there is a lot of screaming and where books are scarce. a “Blooming Childhood”his secrets later. And the boy turns to school, in the books he finds right and left, as well as in music,

Having interrupted his studies during the war, he began drawing at the age of twelve, and was able to sell some drawings to a printing press that Dro signed (drag) while working as a bicycle delivery boy, toothpaste powder actor, and then a wine broker. It was in 1951, in the newspaper Southwest, He publishes his first drawing on the Simbi site.

In 1954, Simbe met with Rene Goscinny. Together, they gave birth to Petit Nicholas, inspired by the wine merchant of the same name. The daily adventures of this little boy appear for the first time in the form of a comic strip, one muzzle per page, published weekly in the Belgian weekly. mosquito. but adventures Little Nicholas In the form of comic strips that stop very quickly, to be reborn after a few years in the form of a graphic tale, first published in columns Southwest Sunday. “I hate comics. I don’t know how to do it, and then I don’t care at all”, Sempé in 2020 is dedicated to French culture.

“Nicola is like all children I draw in general, or the way I imagine children are made”


Pierre Dmayet (Readings for All, 1961)

The success was immediate, and the album debuted the following year. Then the stories are published in the magazine pilot. In ten years of collaboration, Simbee illustrates, with nearly a thousand drawings, more than 200 stories written by Goscinny. Four albums were released between 1960 and 1964. From 2004, untold stories du Petit Nicolas is published by IMAV Editions by Anne Goscinny, and it is very successful.

The Adventures of Little Nicholas has been translated in about forty countries around the world and adapted for cinema by Laurent Tirard in the fiftieth anniversary year: If Betty Nicholas in 2009 it would be followed in 2014 Little Nicholas Vacation.

Simbi is also a father Marceline CaillouAnd the Raoul Taborin And the Mr. Lambert and he Thousands of drawings have been published in the press since 1953, for the first time in black and white laughterAnd the here is Paristhen in Saturday evening where France Sunday. He became known to the general public at the end of the fifties of the last century with the publication of his drawings in Paris Match And the pilot (since its launch in 1959), but also abroad in punch And the Respected (1957). then work on Expressto me figaroto me New Observerand from the eighties of the twentieth century to TeleramaWhich publishes its albums in preview every summer.

From 1962, he started with Nothing is simple, to publish an album every year with versions of Denol, combining his drawings. Nearly thirty albums were released between 1962 and 2010.

Often a painting accompanied by short text, thin line in ink and sometimes watercolor, Sempé’s drawings are recognizable among all. Unbeatable in translating atmosphere, atmosphere, or even emotions, his drawings evoke laughter, tenderness, and thoughtfulness. The designer painted life in all its forms, tenderly and always with a touch of humor and great poetry.

An indefatigable observer of his time, he signed drawings that testify to life in society from the fifties to the present day. A genius in decor, he knew how to translate architecture and modern city giants as well as the exhilarating exuberance of the spring countryside. He knew how to paint loneliness, crowds, absurdity, shyness as well as vanity, love as much as marital discord, and he knew how to paint childhood unparalleled, perhaps because, as he said, “He just happened to become, at times, rational but never quite reached.”

Grand Prize in Literature from the city of Bordeaux in 1987, named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, 2006, married twice, Jean-Jacques Simbe, fathered a son and a daughter. A major exhibition, “Sempé in freedom, the path of a humorist designer,” was dedicated in 2019 at the Bordeaux Maritime Museum to his seventy-year career.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.