The Stupid and Evil Magazine
December 4, 2012 3:04 PM   Subscribe

In 1960 humorist Georges Bernier, author François Cavanna and comic artist (and artistic director) Fred Aristidès began publishing the satirical magazine Hara Kiri, which attacked the French establishment, including politicians, the government and Catholic Church. In 1961 and 1966 it was temporarily banned by the French Government. The magazine's covers were often tasteless, NSFW, "famously perverted, bizarre and highly creative and at the time, and in fact even by today's standards in a league of their own."

"After an early reader's letter accused them of being "dumb and nasty" ("bête et méchant"), the phrase became an official slogan for the magazine and made it into everyday language in France."
posted by zarq (16 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Here's an imgur gallery of 38 random covers.
posted by zarq at 3:06 PM on December 4, 2012

I liked a lot of the covers. You'd never be able to make those today -- not because of censorship, but because you'd struggle to find that many models with pubic hair.
posted by Forktine at 4:28 PM on December 4, 2012

loved the "Special Skato" cover.
posted by marienbad at 4:48 PM on December 4, 2012

Ah, the misogyny of my natal era? Historically interesting (especially the nonPhotoshopped nakedness), but there's a lot of violence against women there.
posted by DrMew at 4:50 PM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Here's an imgur gallery of 38 random covers.
Translations of those covers.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:08 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

DrMew, my thoughts as well.
posted by Existential Dread at 5:19 PM on December 4, 2012

That woman has a fish in her pants.
posted by carsonb at 5:56 PM on December 4, 2012

That woman has a fish in her pants.
posted by carsonb

That comment is the only example of that exact phrase that google can find.
posted by 445supermag at 6:54 PM on December 4, 2012

Just because google doesn't know it doesn't make it any less true.
posted by carsonb at 8:03 PM on December 4, 2012

Ah, les BD. If you took Mad Magazine, married it to R. Crumb at his most id-expressing, then dragged it through a field of porn, you'd have... the mainstream French BD magazines like L'echo des savanes and Fluide glacial. (I always have to double-check that last one as it seems so unlikely that fluide is masculin.) And then, when those aren't outrageous enough, you have Hara-kiri (and its successor Charlie Hebdo).

A lot of it is going to be eyebrow-raising, if not stomach-churning, to Americans (for whom underground comics were much more of a minority taste). But they should be put into some perspective: these covers were published when General DeGaulle was in charge, when the country was embroiled in a brutal colonial war in Algeria, and through the strikes and demonstrations of 1968. Existing institutions were so compromised and disgusting that unrestrained, fierce, anarchic satire was comparatively sane.

French comics of the period had a... complicated relationship to sexism. Most of the artists were male, and had no problem with indulging a good bit of érotisme. At the same time, they would make fun of sexism along with everything else, and some of the nastier images in the cover gallery are satire, or intended to épater la bourgeoisie. (And sometimes were just over-the-top fun; the French, it seems to me, don't get quite as upset over this sort of thing.)
posted by zompist at 10:22 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's some fabulous social history stuck away in here for those who have French.
posted by Wolof at 10:24 PM on December 4, 2012

zompist - thanks for a bit of background! I find this stuff really really interesting, but, well, not knowing French, a lot of it is lost on me.

Just out of curiosity, what does "BD" mean?

It's kind of interesting, too -- some of the designs, especially of the earlier issues, remind me of the later covers of Harvey Kurtzman's Help! magazine.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 10:42 PM on December 4, 2012

BD = bandes dessinées = 'drawn strips', the French name for comics, Rev.

(Of course these covers were photographed, but the magazine was started by cartoonists and featured lots of comics, so I include it in the BD world.)
posted by zompist at 10:59 PM on December 4, 2012

"BD" means "bande dessinée" — "comic strip". Hara Kiri contains strips, but is not one itself.
posted by Wolof at 11:01 PM on December 4, 2012

I've just been getting into Emmanuel Lepage's work, BD-wise. Very striking, painterly stuff.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:36 AM on December 5, 2012

I include it in the BD world

Going to disagree. This is a rag devoted to satire and investigative journalism. Its closest relative is Le Canard enchaîné.
posted by Wolof at 3:22 AM on December 5, 2012

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