The French illustrator and cartoonist Jean-Claude Forest grew up in Le Perreux-sur-Marne, an eastern suburb of Paris. He graduated from the Ecole Supérieure de Design (College of Design) in Paris in 1953, and immediately began working as an illustrator.

He drew his first comic strip, Flèche noire (The Black Arrow), while still at art college. After creating Le vaisseau hanté (The Ghost Ship), he illustrated several issues of Charlot, a popular French comic book series loosely based on Charlie Chaplin. Forest eventually became the premier cover artist of French publisher Gallimard’s leading French science-fiction paperback imprint, Le Rayon Fantastique, also drawing covers for numerous French newspapers and magazines including France Soir. Together with renowned film director Alain Resnais, Forest was one of the founders of the French Comic-Strip Club in the early 1960s.

Barbarella: ‘Take it easy – take me’

Forest became world famous when he created the sci-fi strip Barbarella with its scantily-clad heroine, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962. The strip was an immediate bestseller, made into a book, and was soon translated into a dozen languages.

Jean-Claude Forest created many other cartoons and comic books, also writing scripts for comic strips and for French television. He was awarded the Grand Prize at the 1984 Angoulême Comics Festival.

Example illustration