Like many artists, Joann Sfar’s way of interacting with the world and processing his reality is drawing. The Jewish artist is incredibly prolific. Those who have met Sfar in passing have told me that it’s hard to find him not drawing. Which is why, when the attacks in Paris happened this past Friday, his response was swift and artful.
He posted a series of images on his instagram feed. In a particularly popular one he asked people simply not to pray for Paris: “Our faith goes to music! Kissing! Life! Champagne and joy!”
He started a new hashtag #ParisisaboutLife , which already has over 2000 images attached to it.
But here is why what Sfar is saying shouldn’t be confused for an attack on religion. It is not. It is simply his battle cry. When it’s hard to find solutions from politicians, when talking heads and political candidates seem hollow and self-serving, what are we to do?
As an artist and as a cartoonist, the answer is — his answer is — keep drawing, keep creating, keep living. Keep making the world beautiful and interesting. Keep bringing into the world the things that are vital and alive, in the face of ISIS, people who destroy life, who destroy beauty, who destroy culture and history. When ISIS destroys historical artifacts and attacks cultural centers, our response should be to create more.
Other artists are heading his call. Famous French musician Christine and the Queens wrote on Twitter: “I spent hours thinking about what to do — and the only answer that seemed legitimate to me was — music.”
J’ai passé la nuit à réfléchir à ce que je pouvais faire. Ce qui me semble légitime : la musique. 1 radio éphémère avec artistes invités 1/2— Christine&theQueens (@QueensChristine) November 14, 2015
“The hardest thing in the face of brutality,” he writes in “Si Dieux Exist,” “is to keep drawing loving things.”
And it really is hard. But it is also so important. I most certainly will try my best to keep drawing loving, lively things. It’s not a lot, it’s not enough, but it is what we can do. And so, we shall.
Lior Zaltzman is the Forward’s Digital Fellow and a wearer of many hats. When she’s not tweeting from the Forward’s account, she’s creating illustrations, graphics and lists for the various Forward blogs. She can also make comics out of your bad dates in #OYDATE. She graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in cartooning. Lior Zaltzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @liorca.