French Cartoon Art in the 1960s and 1970s
"Pilote hebdomadaire" and the Teenager "Bande Dessinée"
The French comic magazine Pilote hebdomadaire arrived in a weakening comics market in 1959 largely dominated by syndicated translations of American comics and comics inspired by a Catholic ethos. It tailored its content and tone to an older adolescent reader far removed from that of France’s infant comic. Pilote’s profile set it on a turbulent course subject to the vicissitudes and fickleness of fashion which situated it within an emerging teenager press under pressure to renew and innovate to survive. When it made cartoons its defining characteristic in 1963, Pilote articulated its uniqueness by channelling teenager discourse through them whilst also trying to encourage a zest for education in a modernising and economically buoyant France of exciting new opportunities. Pilote’s cartoon art thus became a dynamic repository for the ideas and attitudes of France’s educated youth which evolved into the radical discourses of the lifestyle and political revolutions of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Wendy Michallat is a lecturer in French at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. She teaches and researches in the field of French cultural history and popular culture.