FOR THE second time this dreadful year, Françoise Mouly, the New Yorker magazine’s French-born art editor, needed to commission a cover illustrator to comment on violent events in her homeland.
In January, after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Mouly told The Post’s Comic Riffs that there was “no good answer to the event except going: ‘No-no-no! This can’t have happened.’
“It’s impossible to respond with humor to it. It’s not funny,” Mouly, who grew up reading Charlie Hebdo in 1960s and ’70s Paris, said. “Some of the many drawings showed a finger raised or a gesture of defiance, and that felt like [it] wasn’t an appropriate expression.”
Mouly chose a stark and stirring illustration from Madrid-based artist Ana Juan, whose 20-plus New Yorker covers have included 9/11 anniversary art. “When I saw this image, I felt the sobriety and the simplicity — I reacted the way you did,” Mouly told Comic Riffs of the cover, titled “Solidarité.” “I felt that kind of ‘hit’ that reaches into your brain and realigns [you]. It ‘reads’ right away.”
This time, after this month’s Paris terror attacks, Mouly sought to strike a different tone — one imbued with a narrative arc of triumph. So Mouly hired Parisian artist Charles Berberian, who rendered a tricolor cover titled simply, like a postcard or historic painting: “Paris, November 2015.”
Berberian chose to celebrate the victory of French culture — to depict a way of life resilient and victorious — albeit with a concept far more elegant and less blunt than Charlie Hebdo’s recent cover.
“It’s horrible when war comes knocking at your door. This is where I live — it’s my neighborhood,” Berberian writes on The New Yorker site. “The day after the attacks, Saturday, it was so calm here. … No one was in the streets. This week though, people are back out. The joke going around is: ‘No terrorist can stop me from paying the premium to have my café at a terrasse.’
“It feels nice just to sit down and enjoy what briefly seemed impossible to enjoy again.”