Chaval: Forgotten, Controversial French Gag Cartoonist

I was recently at a library in Durham doing a comics talk and noted that the “books for sale” shelf there had a bunch of comics collections from the 1950s. Most of the collections were of were New Yorker cartoonists whose work I already owned–Arno, Darrow, etc.–but one book caught my eye and I bought it: Simon & Schuster’s The Best Cartoons From France from 1953.

There’s a lot of good stuff in the book, but the work that really stood out to me was by a cartoonist going by the name Chaval. His linework seems to me to be pretty directly influenced by the then-popular New Yorker cartoonists, Peter Arno in particular. An easy go-to analog for his offbeat sense of humor might be Charles Addams, but some of his gags have an almost Far Side quirkiness to them.

I couldn’t find much information about him in English online other than this post. Chaval was apparently quite well known internationally during his heyday and popular enough in his native France to merit a retrospective in 2008–a retrospective that was marred be revelations of the artist’s Vichy-era anti-Semitic cartoons.

Here’re all of the Chaval cartoons from 1953’s The Best Cartoons From France:

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