Robert Lassalvy - Gag cartoonist

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Biography

Robert Lassalvy is a French gag cartoonist born on April 22, 1932 in Cournonterral. After briefly studying industrial design and then attending the School of Graphic Arts of Paris for four years, he dedicates himself to humorous drawing.

It’s in the early 1950s, in postwar Paris and the flourishing world of Saint-Germain-des-Prés that he finds (along with Sempé, Fred, Cavanna, Charney, Fortuné) a fertile ground to externalize his humor and fantasy.

Great observer of everyday life and the world around him, Lassalvy stages familiar characters in unusual and comical situations. Thanks to his sparkling imagination and a remarkable skill, he caricatures with brio and playfulness the small flaws and little quirks of the mind of ordinary people, thus turning them into real popular heroes.

Through a gallery of picturesque portraits and gags, Lassalvy sheds light on a multitude of larger-than-life characters deeply rooted in their social environment and often planted in intimate settings. Aiming to provoke laughter by a burlesque effect, his cartoons are a parodic interpretation of human nature. Timeless and universal, they reveal a form of mocking spirit underlining the absurd, strange, comic or ridiculous aspects of reality.

Although he has been known for his saucy humor and sexy pin-up girls, Lassalvy started his career in conformity with the morality of the time by publishing his first cartoons in the catholic magazine Le Pélerin in 1950 and then Le Rire in 1952. That same year also began his collaboration with the newspaper Ici Paris (alongside Faizant, Peynet, Bellus, Uber, Dubout, Gad, Aldebert, Tetsu ...) for which he created the character of "Caline" as well as his famous "Choutes chéries" published until 1994, year that will mark the end of his relationship with the journal after more than 40 years of success.

Then, other great titles will follow such as Nous Deux, La Presse, Le Hérisson, Marius, France Dimanche, L’équipe, Le Parisien Libéré, France Football, Le Journal du Dimanche, France Soir, Midi Libre, Paris Jour, Noir et Blanc, Le progrès, Paris Match ...

In 1959 and 1960, his cartoons are published in Pilote, great illustrated journal founded by François Clauteaux, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. From 1955 to 1965, he collaborates with the weekly Bayard and the monthly Record, two other illustrated magazines aimed at a young public and dedicated mainly to the ninth art. Lastly, in 1966, Marcel Dassault who noticed his cartoons in Ici Paris asks him to work for Jours de France where Kiraz and others already contribute to this popular women’s magazine.

In the late ‘60s, following the evolution of morals and society, Lassalvy begins to portray the small flaws of his contemporaries in a more naughty fashion by imagining gags related to the intimacy of romantic relationships and married life using single-panel cartoons with no captions. That’s how he gives birth, after the events of May 1968 and a sexual revolution later, to his famous busty maids and other creatures with generous curves now immortalized in various charm magazines. His collaboration with Lui (1964-1989) and Playboy (1977-1996) remains today the most emblematic period of his work.

Published in the United States by Playboy Press in the magazine Oui, as well as in Brazil in the humorous monthly Status Humor, this tireless chronicler also met a large success in 1980s Japan with a cartoon entitled : " Lassalvy, c’est la vie ! " printed daily in a Tokyo newspaper.

In 1973, he also contributes with Mose, Roger Sam and Rik Cursat to the illustration of a booklet called "Conorama by San-Antonio" based on the novel "Les con" by Frederic Dard. A few years later, the French novelist writes to him : "Dear Lassalvy, every time I see your work, I feel as if I was looking at mine in a mirror. We will have to meet someday. I love you and kiss you".

Finally, in 1983, he receives from Alain Poher, President of the Senate, the first prize of medical humor at the 6th Annual Press Cartoonists Festival.

From Ici Paris to Playboy, from Lui to La Vie Catholique, his cartoons have been published in the French and foreign press for over 50 years.

Considered as one of the best French cartoonists of his generation, Robert Lassalvy is appointed to the rank of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters on November 30, 1999.

Until his passing on March 31, 2001, he will continue to work for some foreign publications and dedicate the rest of his time to painting, his second passion.

On January 12, 2020, the municipality of Cournonterral will pay a vibrant tribute to him by inaugurating with his name the old covered market place located on the ground floor of the City Hall. A memorial plaque embellished with one of his caricatures was unveiled on this occasion.

 

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