On the morning of 7 January, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Philippe Honoré tweeted his last drawing by way of a Happy New Year's greeting. It depicted the Islamic State Leader Abu Bakr-al-Baghdadi in full flow with a very French speech bubble adding "Et Surtout La Santé!" – "and above all, good health!". A few minutes later the offices of the satirical magazine were under attack and Honoré was shot dead alongside his fellow cartoonists Cabu, Charb, Tignous, Wolinski and seven other associates.
Always credited as Honoré, with his trademark signature breaking up his surname in two lines of capital letters within a square, he was self-taught and self-effacing, and a popular figure with the readers of the many publications he drew for, ranging from the dailies Le Monde and Libération to the news weekly L'Evénement Du Jeudi, the arts weekly Les Inrockuptibles, and also including the more bookish Le Magazine Littéraire and Lire.
The readers of Lire particularly enjoyed the rebus, the visual puzzles he devised for the magazine for more than two decades, and also exhibited and compiled in a series of books. "My greatest pleasure is to create a sense of intellectual pleasure for people who are looking for a solution to a puzzle," he said in 2012. "And especially a visual pleasure, because I do my utmost to create a real image that can stand alone, without any text."
Born in Vichy in 1941, Honoré was only 16 when he sold his first drawings to the Sud Ouest regional daily. By the time he joined the Charlie Hebdo team, when the iconoclastic publication was revived in 1992, he was well established in Paris. Book publishers and magazine editors particularly enjoyed his distinctive style and his use of stencil. In 2010 he was commissioned to illustrate a series of French words for the anniversary edition of Le Petit Larousse dictionary.
In Le Monde, Michael Guerrin explained why he thought Honoré wasn't as well known as his Charlie Hebdo colleagues: "He was foremost a virtuoso illustrator who expressed himself more in graphics than words to sketch a portrait, sound the warning on ecology, denounce the politics of austerity or the influence of religion." With his unruly hair, moustache and beard and his penchant for red wine, Honoré looked like he had stepped out of the pages of Astérix. He might have worked in a messy office, but he was prolific and versatile and let his drawings do the talking. "There was rage in him," said the cartoonist Plantu in tribute. "But he was a very sweet person. All the rage he felt came out on the page."
Philippe Honoré, cartoonist: born Vichy 25 November 1941; died Paris 7 January 2015.Reuse content