Chagall en Russie
Nice-born Joann Sfar studied painting before enrolling at the Parisian School of Fine Arts in the Morphology section. He made his debut in 1994 when the publishing house Cornélius published his first book, 'Les Aventures d'Ossour Hyrsidoux'. He then became one of the regular artists of the renewing publishing house L'Association, and published his comics on a regular base in the movement's review Lapin, and in its Patte de Mouche collection.
He made his first color comic, 'Petrus Barbygère', with Pierre Dubois for Delcourt in 1996. For that same publisher, Sfar became the scriptwriter for series like 'Les Potamoks' (drawn by José-Luis Munuera) and 'Troll' (in cooperation with Jean-David Morvan, drawn by O.G. Boiscommun). He also started the series 'Les Dossiers du professeur Bell' as both writer and artist in 1999.
Le Chat du Rabbin
With Lewis Trondheim, he launched the 'Donjon' saga in 1998, which became a hype in the comics world. This series, about a fictive kingdom, has been added up with several sub-series. While Sfar and Trondheim do both scenario and the artwork on the main series, several befriended artists were assigned to draw the spin-offs. Christophe Blain did the 'Donjon Potron-Minet' series, situated 100 years before the main title, that is now called 'Donjon Zénith'. The 'Donjon Crépuscule' series was situated in the future, and drawn by Sfar. 'Donjon Parade', is set between two first 'Zénith' stories, and drawn by Manu Larcenet. 'Donjon Monstres' features stories about the several side characters, and is drawn by several guest artists, such as Menu, Mazan and Andreas.
From: Le Cheval sans Tete (1994)
Joan Sfar populates his stories with colorful personalities, like in his script for 'La Fille du Professeur', that was illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert. This album, about the love between a mummy and the daughter of a professor, was published by Dupuis in 1997 and has won several prizes. Sfar and Guibert continued their collaboration with their children's series 'Sardine de l'espace' for Bayard (2000-2005) and with 'Les Olives Noires', a modern story of a young Jewish child travelling through Judea in the days of Jesus Christ, published by Dupuis between 2001 and 2003.
Les Lumières de la France
Sfar created the romantic vampire Fernand for his series 'Grand Vampire' that was published by Delcourt from 2001 and 2005. During that same period he created the series 'Le Minuscule Mousquetaire' for Dargaud. Between 2002 and 2006, Sfar created the comics series 'Le Chat du Rabbin' for Dargaud. An animated film based on the comic book series was released in 2011. He returned to Dargaud in 2011 to start the series 'Les Lumières de la France', and his hallucinating road comic 'Tokyo' in 2012.
A highly productive author, Sfar has participated in several anthology projects, while releasing one-shot graphic novels with publishers like Les Rêveurs de Runes ('Critixman', 2006), First second ('Vampire Loves', 2006), Denoël ('L'Homme-arbre', 2004-06) and Delcourt ('Le Bestiaire Amoureux', 2007). L'Association remained the publisher of his sketchbooks in the series 'Les Carnets de Joann Sfar', and of his series 'Pascin' (2000-2005).
Sfar is head of book publishing department of of Bréal Jeunesse, through which he publishes children's comics that are deemed too controversial by traditional publishers, dealing with themes like religion, atheism and virginity. He was appointed as head of the comic book collection Bayou by publisher Gallimard in 2005. Gallimard has since published his adventure series 'Klezmer' since 2005, his fantasy comic 'L'Ancien Temps' in 2009 as well as his story 'Chagall en Russie' (2010), that is partially based on the Russian-French painter Chagall.
Music-fan Sfar gained wide attention outside of the comics field when his live-action film about Serge Gainsbourg, called 'Gainsbourg, vie héroïque', was released in 2010. He subsequently made an illustrated biopic on French singer-songwriter Georges Brassens with Clémentine Deroudille in the following year. In 2012 he wrote the script for a comic about jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, that was drawn as an animal comic by Clément Oubrérie and published under the title 'Jeangot' by Gallimard in 2012. Joan Sfar was named Officer in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2014.
From: J'Aime Lire