Félina by Annie Goetzinger

Annie Goetzinger was a French graphic novelist, known for her often biographical comics about strong women. Her work is aimed at a mature audience and reveals her background in fashion design. Her earlier drawings show a strong influence of the Art Nouveau movement, not only in her characters, but also in her panel designs. Most of Goetzinger's stories have a feminine point of view, from her biographies about Amélie Élie, Aurore Dupin, Christian Dior and Colette through the series of portraits of women she made with writer Pierre Christin, but also her fictional series 'Félina' (1978-1986) and 'Agence Hardy' (2001-2012). Most of her work has been published in book format by Glénat, Dargaud, Les Humanoïdes Associés and Éditions des Femmes. Goetzinger was one of the most prominent female comic artists of her generation, alongside Claire Brétécher and Chantal Montellier.

Early life and career
Born in Paris in 1951, Annie Goetzinger started began making comics by accident, because her art school wouldn't let her pass without making a comic. She attended the École Superieure des Arts Appliqués from 1967 to 1971, where she specialized in fashion artwork. She made her first comic pages in Georges Pichard's class, and her work was quickly noted by Jacques Lob and René Goscinny. This resulted in her first publications in Pilote from 1972 onwards. Throughout the decade she drew occasional short stories for this magazine, mostly from scripts by Lob or Jean-Pierre Dionnet. Several of these stories were eventually collected in the album 'Curriculum B.D.' (Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1980), which was later expanded and reprinted under the title 'Rayon Dames' (1991). Her first published work was however the comic 'Fleur' (1972), which appeared in the girls' magazine Lisette of Éditions de Montsouris during its final year. In the second half of the 1970s Goetzinger also had short appearances in Le Canard Sauvage, L'Écho des Savanes and Fluide Glacial.

Felina, by Annie Goetzinger

Légende et realité de Casque d'Or
In 1975 she published her romanticized comics biography of Amélie Élie (1878-1933), a Parisian prostitute during the Belle Époque, who is in the middle of a bloody rivalry between thugs. The story has the same point of view as the classic film 'Casque d'Or' (1952). 'Légende et réalité de Casque d'Or' was first serialized in Circus magazine and then published in book format by Jacques Glénat in 1976. Although the artist had not yet achieved her full narrative skills, the story with its elegant artwork earned Goetzinger the prize for "Best French Realistic Work" at the 1977 Angoulême comic festival. It also caught the attention of Victor Mora and Pierre Christin, two scriptwriters with whom she would work later in her career. The life of "Casque d'Or" was chronicled in comics format once again in the series 'La Fille de Panama' by Laurent Galandon and Kas (2011-2014).

With Mora she made her first major work, the series 'Félina'. It debuted in Circus in 1978-1979, and was then continued in Pilote (1982) and Charlie Mensuel (1985-1986). The sensual Félina was an orphan and former circus performer who becomes part of high society after marrying the rich Wilbur Kholderup. When her husband is murdered by the mysterious Kriss, she travels all over the world in search of the cult's leader as a masked vigilante. The series can be considered an adult and feminine version of the 19th century pulp novel series 'Fantômas'.


Aurore and other biographical comics about women
With writer Adela Turin, she made the well-documented graphic novel 'Aurore'. It was a depiction of the life of Aurore Dupin (1804-1876), the French novelist known under the pen name George Sand, who was infamous for her affairs with composer Frédéric Chopin and writer Alfred De Musset. The book was published by Éditions des Femmes in 1978. She made her most innovative work with scriptwriter Pierre Christin, with whom she embarked upon a series of graphic novel portraits of (fictive) women. Serialization of the first story, 'La Demoiselle de la Légion d'honneur', began in Pilote in 1979, after which Dargaud published it in book format in 1980. Three more installments were created and released in Dargaud's 'Portraits Souvenirs' collection: 'La Diva et le Kriegsspiel' (1981), 'La Voyageuse de la Petite Ceinture' (1985) and 'Charlotte et Nancy' (1987).

La Demoiselle à la Légion d'Honneur
'La Demoiselle à la Légion d'Honneur'.

Impact and controversy
When the stories first appeared in the 1980s they were considered groundbreaking in their depiction of women in either historical or contemporary stories. Drawn by one of the few female artists around, they were the first French graphic novels with a strong emphasis on the emotions and psychology of female characters, even though they were written by a man. 'La Demoiselle de la Légion d'honneur' gave a critical look at the life in a boarding school of the French Legion of Honor, which resulted in a furious letter of Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honor addressed at publisher Georges Dargaud. The series was reprinted by Les Humanoïdes Associés in 1990, and returned to Dargaud in 2002-2003 in a two-volume collection.

La Diva et le Kriegsspiel
'La Diva et le Kriegsspiel'.

Later graphic novels
Goetzinger continued to work with Pierre Christin on several graphic novels in the following years, including 'Le Tango du Disparu' (Flammarion, 1989), 'Le Message du Simple' (Le Seuil, 1994), 'La Sultane Blanche' (Dargaud, 1996) and 'Paquebot' (Dargaud, 1999). As an allround author, Annie Goetzinger wrote and drew 'Barcelonight' (Les Humanoïdes, 1991), a bittersweet chronicle of a woman in Barcelona who tries to make sense of her life by watching other people. She subsequently teamed up with the German writer Andreas C. Knigge and the Norwegian poet Jón Sveinbjørn Jónsson to create 'L'Avenir Perdu' (Les Humanoïdes, 1992), one of the first graphic novels to treat AIDS in a homosexual context. The book was also published in German by Carlsen as 'Die verlorene Zukunft'. Goetzinger spent several years living in Barcelona, where she became close friends with Catalan novelist and journalist Montserrat Roig (1946-1991). Goetzinger captured the friendship with her deceased friend in the landscape format-shaped illustration book 'Mémoires de Barcelone' (La Sirène, 1993), which also pays homage to the city they first met one another.

L'Avenir Perdu by Annie Goetzinger
'L'Avenir Perdu'.

Agence Hardy
Goetzinger worked with Christin once again on the retro-styled detective series 'Agence Hardy' (2001-2012). The series stars the female private investigator Edith Hardy, who is caught up in intrigues in the world of perfumers and scientists during the 1950s. Seven albums were published by Dargaud between 2001 and 2012.

Bruno Frappat
From 1999 onwards, Goetzinger illustrated the weekly chronicle of journalist Bruno Frappat in the Catholic newspaper La Croix. The journalist would send Goetzinger his text by fax every Wednesday, after which she replied with her graphical interpretation. The feature appeared in the paper every Sunday, and gave the reader a view of the world through Goetzinger's subtle linework and soft colors. A book collection was published by Dargaud in 2005 under the title 'Le Regard des Jours'.

Agence Hardy, by Annie Goetzinger
'Agence Hardy' #3.

At the Festival of Angoulême she won the Prix Révélation (1975) and Prix de la Meilleure Oeuvre Réaliste Française for 'Légende ét Réalité de Casque d'Or'. 'Aurore' won the Premio Grafico Fiera (1979) at the Festival for Juvenile Literature in Bologna. 'Felina' received the 1980 Prix Saint-Michel, while the artist also won the Grand Boum (2014) at the BD Boum Festival in Blois, where a large exhibition was held about her work. On 13 February 2015 she was named Officier in the Order of des Arts et des Lettres. 

Final years and death
With writer Rodolphe she created the one-shot 'Marie-Antoinette, La Reine Fantôme' (Dargaud, 2011), about a paranormal artist who is entrusted with a large secret by the ghost of Marie-Antoinette. She returned to comics biographies in 2013 with 'Jeune fille en Dior' (Dargaud, 2013), a critically acclaimed comics documentary about fashion designer Christian Dior and the world of haute couture through the eyes of a journalist in the 1940s. Her final work was a comics biography of French novelist Colette (1873-1954), which was published by Dargaud as 'Les Apprentissages de Colette' in 2017.

Besides her work as a graphic novelist, Goetzinger has designed costumes for theater plays and worked as a press illustrator for the newspapers Le Monde and La Croix. Annie Goetzinger, one of the "grandes dames" of French comics, passed away on 20 December 2017, at the age of 66. In her obituary, publisher Dargaud praised her for her refined, elegant and distinguished artwork, as well as her keen sense for detail and subtle use of direct colors.

'Les Apprentissages de Colette'.

Series and books by Annie Goetzinger you can order today:


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