We’ve been receiving a torrent of cartoons from around the world about last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris. I’ve been disappointed by most of the cartoons so far, many of which contain graphic pools of blood, depictions of monsters and broken Eiffel Towers. I think the first few days after an event like this are a time to express sympathy, so I went with a weeping Marianne, the French symbol from the Eugene Delacroix painting La Liberté Guidant le People (Liberty Leading the People). 

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Delacroix’s Marianne.

I struggled to think of what I wanted to draw, so I wouldn’t be drawing blood, candles, monsters or Eiffel Towers like the rest of the crowd. I like Marianne as a symbol for France and I like that the French embrace her as their own symbol. It was interesting to see so many of the cartoonists drawing the Statue of Liberty this weekend, the statue was a gift from France but she is a symbol of America.

Marianne has some problems: first, she may not be recognizable enough when she is seen out of the context of the Delacroix painting: second, her face exists only as a profile facing left, which can be a little limiting; third, she has one bare breast (or arguably, two bare breasts) and American editors are reluctant to print bare breasts – even though her bare breast is necessary to define who Marianne is in the cartoon. I suppose it is fitting that I had to struggle with this one.

Below is my rough sketch.

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I started out thinking of more cliches, like the candle and the flag at half staff – both bad ideas. I also ruminated about how to draw the drapery in her dress, which seems to be a heavy fabric rather than a normal fabric, along with her emerging toes. Here she is in black and white. (Yes, the flag pole covers up her nipple – I debated about that too.)

Then I colored her in – and I was disappointed with the result.

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Editors and readers always like cartoons better when they are in color, even in cases like this, where the color only cheapens the cartoon. One of my readers on Facebook, Rod Underhill, made the excellent suggestion that I limit the color to the flag; that was a great suggestion – and voila, a much better cartoon (shown at the top of the page)! I deleted the previous color version and sent a correction out to the newspaper clients.

Here’s another Marianne cartoon, a double breasted version. This one was popular in France where they find President Francois Hollande rather annoying.

This interesting Marianne comes from my French cartoonist buddy, Pierre Ballouhey, who includes characters surrounding the recent Paris attacks.

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Marianne is much easier to deal with in a goofy drawing. Here’s a nice Marianne by Angel Boligan, drawn after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

This bloody Marianne is from my buddy, Martin “Shooty” Sutovec from Slovakia. With no side-boob, and no flowing ties on her sleeveless, fringeless dress, her new style beret and blonde hair in a different doo – I almost missed her, but Shooty got me to take another look.

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Jordanian cartoonist Osama Hajjaj drew a weeping Marianne with an Eiffel Tower in a pool of blood (perhaps he could have thrown in a couple of candles, terror monsters and the Statue of Liberty to make it complete). Osama obscured Marianne’s profile and bare breast issues, and he lost her beret. hmm. OK.

This Marianne is from Taylor Jones, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Here’s a Charlie Hebdo aftermath Marianne from RJ Matson – looks like this one was a quicky to draw in Photoshop.

Visit our big collection of cartoons drawn in response to the Paris attacks.