“Comment on s'enrhume à Paris” by Jean-Jacques Sempé, series of 12 illustrated panels (one for each month of the year), month of November, 16x23 cm, 1961

Comment on s’enrhume à Paris by Jean-Jacques Sempé, series of 12 illustrated panels (one for each month of the year), month of November, 16×23 cm, 1961. Source for the hi-res reproduction depicted above: Ma galerie à Paris, where one can browse all twelve panels produced that year.

This illustration was commissioned in 1961 by the Laboratoires Le Brun (a French pharmaceutical company). The idea was to create a series of twelve illustrations (one for each month of the year) all inspired by the theme of “catching a cold”. Each of the twelve panel shows a different illustration on the front, and a calendar with some advertising on its back (typically the address of a pharmacy and a list of cold related drugs such as cough sirup, etc.).
It was not the first nor the last series of this kind commissioned by the Laboratoires Le Brun. In fact, they commissioned such a marketing calendar each years from 1952 to 1973. Jean-Jacques Sempé did two of them: one in 1957 and one in 1961.
I’m getting all this information from a French website entierly dedicated to medical comics: BDMédicales. Follow the link to read more about Sempé’s Comment on s’enrhume à Paris series.
Since last October up until February 11, 2012, Paris’ Hôtel de Ville is presenting the exhibition “Sempé, A Bit of Paris”. Over 300 original drawings are exposed. From the official website (French / English):

Translated into twenty-five languages and the creator of several thousand drawings, Jean-Jacques Sempé is one of the most famous French cartoonists. He has managed to reach every generation over the last fifty years.

There’s another short biography in English on Lambiek.net Sempé is also present on Facebook. The best introduction I could find in English to Jean-Jacques Sempé and his work is a New York Times profile written in 2006. From the introduction:

The cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempé is a little like Brigitte Bardot or Charles Aznavour. He’s a national institution who has acquired an almost universal appeal by remaining quintessentially French. His precise, elegant drawings are often set in a Paris that even Parisians dream of: a city of mansard roofs, high windows and wrought-iron balconies, where all the cars still look like Deux Chevaux or 1950s Citroëns. Dwarfed by their surroundings, his figures — smallish men, balding, a little portly, with big noses and tidy little mustaches, their double-chinned, nicely coiffed wives in polka-dot frocks — are Gallic Everymen, dignified and put upon at the same time, in the way that only French people can be. They nevertheless speak to the international human plight: the Thurberian power struggle between men and women, the daily need to keep up appearances, the unending cycle of tiny victories and middle-size defeats. (The New York Times: “Jean-Jacques Sempé’s Tales of Two Cities” by Charles McGrath, November 8, 2006).

I first found out about this drawing via Martin Klasch.


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