Highs and Lows

A collection of illustrations by world-renowned cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempé.

Jean-Jacques Sempé


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About the book
Jean-Jacques Sempé is equally adept at capturing the little indignities (and triumphs) of everyday life as he is at high farce. In Highs and Lows, nothing is ever quite what it seems: small villages try to pass themselves off as major urban centres, and the roadsigns read ‘Uptown’, ‘Downtown’ and ‘Don’t Knows’. With his uncanny eye for the telling detail, Jean-Jacques Sempé captures the small rebellions and unexpected dramas of people who are striving to fit in and find their place in the modern world, and of people who would rather be somewhere – anywhere – else.

Most famous in the English-speaking world for his instantly recognizable New Yorker covers, Jean-Jacques Sempé has delighted readers in France and beyond with his witty drawings and keen eye for the finer points of the human condition for over 40 years. Now, his sharply observed and beautifully drawn cartoons are available in English for the first time. The pithy captions were translated from the original French by Anthea Bell, who also translated the Asterix comics into English.

In The Press

"Sempé goes about showing us up with great good nature. … his drawing is consistently delightful."—Anthea Bell, Sunday Telegraph

"Drawings [that] are eloquent in every language."—Quentin Blake, The Week

"[Sempé] is, par excellence, the master of the panoramic cartoon... Captions [...] have been brilliantly translated by Anthea Bell... There are many talented French cartoonists. [...] [Sempé] is the most universal... Sempé cartoons are a kind of illustrative haiku. In such small space he conveys a great amount of meaning... An infinite delight in the complexity and ambivalence – and the humour – of the everyday and the ordinary."—The Independent

"[Sempé] started life as a journeyman cartoonist, drawing single gags. From there he has gradually broadened out and blossomed, acquiring colour and boldness and breadth, until it is hard to call him anything but an artist... You can’t really lose with Sempé."—The Spectator

About the author(s)
Jean-Jacques Sempé (b.1932) is one of the world's most successful illustrators and cartoonists. He is the illustrator of the classic children's-book character, Nicholas, and author of a collection of some thirty albums of his cartoons and graphic novels, all published or to be published by Phaidon. His world-renowned illustrations and cartoons are featured on the cover of the New Yorker and in Paris Match.

The Art of Looking Sideways
Words Fail Me
Far Out isn't Far Enough
C'est la Vie!
Raoul Taburin Keeps a Secret