C'est La Vie! The Wonderful World of Jean-Jacques Sempé

24 November 2014

Jean-Jacques Sempé has something of a varied CV. Having been expelled from school, he went on to become a door-to-door tooth powder salesman, a soldier and a comic book artist, before going on to creating some rather iconic covers for The New Yorker and cartoons for Paris Match.

His sketch-like, kinetic style is instantly recognisable, capturing fleeting moments and peculiar characteristics in simple pen-work and watercolour. Each image, no matter how uncomplicated, manages to tell a unique little story, often populated with large-nosed fellows, pneumatic women and no shortage of calamities.

Now, more than 250 of his images have been drawn together in a new Phaidon book designed by Sarah Boris, joyfully titled C’est La Vie! The Wonderful World of Jean-Jacques Sempé. Even though the captions are translated from French (by Asterix the Gaul translator Anthea Bell), they’re no less hilarious – each vignette succinctly distils the hilarity in human life from some of the most banal scenarios. As Sempé himself puts it: “What I like so much about cartoons is the way thy can express certain ideas discreetly. It is a way of talking about yourself without really seeming to do so.”


Jean-Jacques Sempé: Art and Artists


Jean-Jacques Sempé: Cyclists


Jean-Jacques Sempé: In the City


Jean-Jacques Sempé: Human Foibles


Jean-Jacques Sempé: Holidays


C’est La Vie! The Wonderful World of Jean-Jacques Sempé cover

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About the Author

Emily Gosling

Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.

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