Joann Sfar

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Joann Sfar
Joann Sfar, 2015.
Born (1971-08-28) 28 August 1971 (age 52)
Nice, France
Area(s)Writer, Artist
Notable works
Les Potamoks
La Fille du professeur
Grand Vampire
Le chat du rabbin
AwardsFull list
Spouse(s)Sandrina Jardel (divorced)

Joann Sfar (French: [ʒoan sfaʁ]; born 28 August 1971) is a French comics artist, comic book creator, novelist, and film director.

Life and career[edit]

Sfar was born in Nice, the son of Lilou, a pop singer, who died when he was three,[1] and André Sfar, a lawyer well known for prosecuting Neo-Nazis.[2] As a result of his mother's early death, Sfar was raised by his father and maternal grandfather, a military doctor of Ukrainian origin in the Alsace-Lorraine Independent Brigade (France) during World War II. Sfar's grandfather reportedly saved the right hand of the brigade's leader, novelist André Malraux, for which he was awarded French citizenship.[1][3]

A wildly prolific artist, he is considered one of the most important artists of the new wave of Franco-Belgian comics, though he has rejected the assertion that he, along with artists like Christophe Blain, Marjane Satrapi, and Lewis Trondheim, sought to create an alternative scene or a new movement in comics.[1] Many of his comics were published by L'Association which was founded in 1990 by Jean-Christophe Menu and six other artists. He also worked with many of the group's main artists, e.g. David B. and Lewis Trondheim. The Donjon series, which he created with Trondheim, has a cult following in many countries.[4]

Some of his comics are inspired by his Jewish heritage. Sfar is the son of Jewish parents (an Ashkenazi mother whose family was from Ukraine and a Sephardic father from Algeria).[5] He himself says that there is Ashkenazi humor in his Professeur Bell series (loosely based on Joseph Bell), whereas Le chat du rabbin is clearly inspired by his Sephardic side. Les olives noires is a series about a Jewish child living in Israel at the time of Jesus. Like Le chat du rabbin, the series contains a lot of historical and theological information.

His main influences are Fred and André Franquin, as well as Marc Chagall, Chaïm Soutine, Will Eisner, Hugo Pratt and John Buscema.[6][7]

From 2009 to 2010, Sfar wrote and directed Gainsbourg: Vie Héroïque, a biopic of the illustrious French songwriter and singer, of whom Sfar is a self-confessed fanatic. The film, which draws substantially on Sfar's abilities as a comic book artist through its extensive use of fantasy artwork, animation and puppetry, was released in 2010 to general critical acclaim.

Sfar's book L’Eternel has been adapted for a live-action drama entitled Monsters’ Shrink by Canal plus.[8]

Partial bibliography[edit]

In English[edit]

  • Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East, First Second Books, New York, 2006.
  • Vampire Loves, First Second Books, New York, 2006.
  • Sardine in Outer Space, 6 volumes, with Emmanuel Guibert, First Second Books, New York, 2006–2008.
  • The Professor's Daughter, with Emmanuel Guibert, First Second Books, New York, 2007.
  • The Rabbi's Cat, Pantheon, 2007.
  • The Rabbi's Cat 2, Pantheon, 2008.
  • Little Vampire, First Second Books, New York, 2008.
  • Dungeon (since 1998, with Lewis Trondheim and collective)
  • The Little Prince (Comic Adaptation), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2010.
  • Pascin, Uncivilized Books, 2016.

In French[edit]

Cover of The Rabbi's Cat (2005)
  • Petrus Barbygère (with Pierre Dubois, scenario)
    • L'elficologue (1996, Delcourt, ISBN 2-84055-082-2)
    • Le croquemitaine d'écume (1997, Delcourt, ISBN 2-84055-136-5)
  • Les Potamoks (with José-Luis Munuera, art)
  • La Fille du professeur (1997, with Emmanuel Guibert (art), Dupuis, ISBN 2-8001-2481-4)
  • Donjon (since 1998, with Lewis Trondheim and collective)
  • Le petit monde du Golem (1998, L'Association, ISBN 2-909020-98-3)
  • Troll (with Olivier Boiscommun, art)
  • Professeur Bell (from #3, with Hervé Tanquerelle, art)
  • Urani (2000, with David B, Dargaud, ISBN 2-205-04795-7)
  • Grand Vampire
  • Les olives noires (with Emmanuel Guibert, art)
  • Le chat du rabbin
  • Klezmer
  • Chagall en Russie


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Screenwriter Producer
2010 Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life Yes Yes Also as actor (as Georges Brassens)
César Award for Best First Feature Film
Nominated—César Award for Best Film
Nominated—Lumières Award for Best Film
Nominated—Lumières Award for Best Director
2011 The Rabbi's Cat Yes Yes Yes Based on his comic series; also as storyboard artist and voice actor
César Award for Best Animated Film
Cristal Award for Best Feature Film
Prix Jacques Prévert du Scénario for Best Adaptation
Nominated—Annie Award for Best Animated Feature
Nominated—European Film Award for Best Animated Feature Film
2013 Aya of Yop City Yes Nominated—César Award for Best Animated Film
2014 Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet Yes
2015 The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun Yes
2020 Little Vampire Yes Yes Based on his comic series
Nominated—César Award for Best Animated Film





  1. ^ a b c Télérama (4 June 2011). "Joann Sfar".
  2. ^ Blog BD de Nice-Matin. "Joann Sfar: "Je pense à un film sur Jacques Médecin"".
  3. ^ L'Express (24 January 2011). "Interview de Joann Sfar".
  4. ^ Lambiek Comiclopedia. "Joann Sfar".
  5. ^ George Robinson (2011-08-23). "Being Serge Gainsbourg". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on 2016-06-30. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  6. ^ Bellefroid, Thierry. "Interview de Joann Sfar" (in French). BDParadisio.
  7. ^ Balaresque, Nicolas. "Entretien avec Joann Sfar" (in French).
  8. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2017-07-27). "Canal Plus Books Appointment With Joann Sfar's 'Monsters' Shrink' Vampire Series". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-08-21.

External links[edit]