Born in Paris in 1951, Jean Plantureux (aka Plantu) is an editorial cartoonist.
In 1971, he quit medical school in order to study drawing at the Ecole de Saint-Luc in Bruxelles, popularized by Hergé. A year later, Le Monde published his first drawing dealing with the Vietnam War. This marked the beginning of his career at Le Monde, where his editorial cartoons have graced the front page since 1985, in an effort to “acknowledge the French tradition of political cartoons.”
In 1991, during an exhibition in Tunis, Plantu met the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who drew the Star of David on the Israeli flag for one of Plantu’s drawings. The illustration won an award called “Prix du document” at the Festival du scoop in Angers, France. A year later, Arafat and Shimon Pérès autographed one of Plantu’s draft before they decided to ratify the Oslo Accords.
In 1998, the French postal service distributed a 3 franc stamp designed by Plantu, to raise money for the international humanitarian organization, Médecins Sans Frontières. That same year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNESCO published several dozen brochures illustrated by Plantu. His drawings have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Ukrainian, Georgian, etc.
Sketching the political current events for the main daily newspaper in France, Plantu’s name has clearly been associated with Le Monde. However, he has also drawn for the magazine Phosphore and L’Express. His clever and spontaneous interpretations earned him the Mumm prize for dark humor as well as the Spanish trophy of the Gat Perich prize, an international prize for caricatures.
The little mouse that you see in Plantu’s drawings represents the artist’s own view of the events he depicts.
Plantu: The Editorial in Cartoons
“This trip to the U.S. will give me the opportunity to meet American cartoonists and learn how they work. Wherever I go, I have a habit of probing my colleagues in order to better understand how much room for expression and creativity their respective countries allow them. In the U.S., I will try to figure out the line that cannot be crossed.”
Every country has its taboos and France is no exception. I would also like to understand why many American cartoonists have an educational background that the French cartoonist don’t always have. What sort of education exists for aspiring cartoonists in the U.S.? Do journalism programs encompass cartooning?
Through different debates, I will show how a cartoonist works, but above all, I will talk about the journalistic circle and the media in France with regard to cartoons. For that, I will need an overhead projector and, if there are more than 150 people, a tie clip microphone; that will allow me to speak and draw on the transparencies at the same time.
I will explain how, once I’ve been given a subject by my Editor-in-Chief, I try to transform news information into an editorial image. I should also say that at Le Monde, it is possible to make editorial cartoons that stray from the newspaper’s view. This sometimes happens and I will give some examples in my lecture. It’s a great opportunity for free speech. The “politically correct” movement has somewhat paralyzed the media, and the cartoonists, along with the columnists, have become the last line of defense against it.
I should mention that I move around a lot during my lectures to create an energetic mood and I like to have a question and answer session: I often answer questions through drawings. Do not hesitate to have a cordless microphone on hand.
If you would like to get further information about my work, I invite you to visit my web site: www.plantu.net
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