French cartoonist Claire Bretécher dies aged 79

Claire Bretécher.
Claire Bretécher. © Rita Scalia

Claire Bretécher, one of the most celebrated French cartoonists of recent decades and the first woman to achieve real prominence in the genre in France, died on Tuesday at the age of 79.


Bretécher rose to fame in the 1970s with the comic book series Les Frustrés (The Frustrated Ones) which tackled issues of gender and sexuality with a mordant and deadpan humour.

From the 1980s onwards her most famous character was Agrippine, a spoilt adolescent dealing with the troubles of growing up whose travails were carved into the mind of a generation.

In France, comic books are known as bandes dessinées or BD and are regarded as a serious literary art form for adults as well as children. The top practitioners have a large and loyal following.

In 1976, the famous French intellectual Roland Barthes hailed Bretécher as the "best sociologist of the year", a comment which she laughed off at the time.

"She was one of the pioneers of this literary genre and imposed a style, a tone and an offbeat gaze that was of total originality," her publishers Dargaud said in a statement announcing her death.

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