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'Little Nick' artist Jean-Jacques Simbi dies at 89 - News

‘Little Nick’ artist Jean-Jacques Simbi dies at 89 – News


Leaves 40 picture books and a story that almost everyone knows: “Le petit Nicolas”, German: “Little Nick”.

Jean-Jacques Sempy, the illustrator of popular children’s stories about “Little Nick,” passed away at the age of 89, a week before his 90th birthday.

Simbe’s biographer and friend Marc Lecarpentier told AFP he slept peacefully, surrounded by his wife and friends.

For many people in France, Sempé has been a national institution. He has drawn more than 40 picture books and a story that almost everyone knows: “Little Nick”.


Excerpted from “Le Petit Nicolas”, the series for which Sempé became famous to a large audience.

REUTERS/Charles Plateau/2009

The series was created over 50 years ago through a collaboration between Sempé and René Goscinny, the Asterix book author who died in 1977.

emotional cartoon

“Simbi is someone who has been able to very gently translate sentiment into reductive caricatures,” explains comics expert Kono Afolter. Afolter is the former curator of the BD Center, a science archive specializing in comics in Lausanne.

Dreikäsehoch’s crazy ideas have sold millions of copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. Simbe was one of the most important illustrators and cartoonists in France. And not just that: “He’s one of the illustrators who has designed most covers for The New Yorker. This is the Olympus of every illustrator,” Afolter says.

A career that probably went into the heads of others. But not Simbi, who was considered shy and modest.

Latest photo book 2020

He’s been trying to create comic strips for 60 years. The artist, who was to turn 90 on August 17, said in an interview with the French regional newspaper “L’Alsace”, unfortunately, that he has not yet reached the goal. That is why the Frenchman, from whose works several generations arose, tirelessly continued to list and illustrate his works.

Painter Jean-Jacques Simbe in 1975.


Painter Jean-Jacques Simbe in 1975.

Keystone / Photopress Archive / STR

Sempé only published a new picture book at the end of 2020, “Garder le cap” (English: Keep course). In him he again showed himself as the incomparable observer of our time. He chose the title because everyone should have a purpose – no matter if they were bakers or researchers, he continued in an interview with L’Alsas.

In his various works, Simbee looks at the absurdity of the world from an unfettered, childlike perspective. Or he tries to trace the peculiar charm of the bourgeoisie with a loving satire. “If you look at his photos a few times, you’ll always discover new stories that you haven’t before,” says comics expert Avolter.

Simbi’s goal was clear: for 60 years, he’s wanted to make people laugh and smile with stories of our mistakes big and small. In doing so, he made man universally visible.