In Memoriam : François Cavanna, co-founder of Hara-Kiri

Guy Peellaert (up left) and François Cavanna (up right) pose with fellow Hara-Kiri contributors in 1968.

Guy Peellaert (up left) and François Cavanna (up right) pose with fellow Hara-Kiri contributors in 1968.

François Cavanna, maverick journalist and co-founder of the groundbreaking French counter-culture publication Hara-Kiri, died on Wednesday, aged 90.
Upon the controversial publication of The Adventures of Jodelle in 1966, it was Cavanna who welcomed Guy Peellaert into the close-knit circle of rebels and anarchists then using Hara-Kiri as a powerful, censorship-defying tribune against the conservative values prevalent in France prior to the upheavals of 1968. Cavanna gave Peellaert carte blanche to create a recurring all-color comic—the rest of the publication was still printed in black and white—to inaugurate a new version of the monthly magazine after it had been shut down by the Charles de Gaulle administration for its perceived threat to French youth. Launching with the January 1967 issue, Pravda became a cultural sensation and its emancipated title heroine an enduring icon of European Pop art, the sexual revolution and a rising ambivalent feeling toward consumer society.

Between 1968 and 1970, Peellaert followed Pravda with three shorter experimental comics—all published in Hara Kiri under Cavannabefore moving on to a whole new phase of his career with the project that would become Rock Dreams. Although Peellaert, a self-professed loner, would later confess to have never quite fit in with the group mentality of Hara-Kiri, he nevertheless found kindred spirits and lifelong friends in such fellow contributing artists as Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius), Roland Topor or Willem.

While numerous books have been published in France about Hara-Kiri and its influence, a new coffee table tome devoted specifically to the magazine's drawings and illustrations has been released under the title La Gloire de Hara-Kiri just in time to pay homage to a dream team of rule-breakers, assembled by Cavanna with a certain genius. 

You can read more about the extraordinary life of François Cavanna in this obituary from Le Monde (in French).

It was François Cavanna who invited Peellaert to create a recurring comic in the pages of Hara-Kiri. The artist created Pravda, an iconic heroine modeled after Françoise Hardy. Here, Pravda is featured on a poster advertising the October 1967 issue of the counter-cultural publication. This is the first known occurrence of the famous "Pravda with Coca-Cola" image. 

It was François Cavanna who invited Peellaert to create a recurring comic in the pages of Hara-Kiri. The artist created Pravda, an iconic heroine modeled after Françoise Hardy. Here, Pravda is featured on a poster advertising the October 1967 issue of the counter-cultural publication. This is the first known occurrence of the famous "Pravda with Coca-Cola" image.