Françoise Mouly

Art Editor of The New Yorker

Of all the covers in the last 20 years The New Yorker art editor Françoise created with famous artists like Barry Blitt, Robert Crumb, David Hockney, Maira Kalman, Bruce McCall en Sempé, there is one that stands out. This is the cover that she and he husband Art Spiegelman designed for the issue the day after 9/11 with the towers in black against a black background.

‘I felt I couldn’t possibly succeed, that no drawing could possibly capture what we were going through at the time,’ Mouly says in a recent interview. ‘The image was born out of that negation. I accepted what I felt, my feeling of utter powerlessness and that’s what I sketched. The fact that my inability to come up with an image was the path to just the right image was a great lesson.’

Educated as an architect in her native Paris, Mouly moved to New York in 1974. Together with Spiegelman she founded the pioneering comics anthology RAW. In 1993 she became the art director of The New Yorker, which made her responsible for the signature covers of the magazine. In her 2012 book Blown, she gives the reader a glimpse into the kitchen by means of covers that did not make it.

In 2008 Mouly also founded TOON Books, a collection of comics and graphic novels for early readers. ‘We want to share our love of books with new generations as they come of age in an increasingly visual culture,’ she says. ‘The more there are digital assaults on our kids’ attention, the more they need books, good books.’

A biography of Mouly by Jeet Heer was published in 2013 called In Love with Art: Françoise Mouly's Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman.


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