Who Is The Artist Behind This Brussels Tribute?

by Amy Mackelden

On March 22, 2016, several attacks on Brussels have killed more than two dozen people, with dozens more reported as injured. The Brussels mayor has announced that there were "20 killed, 106 wounded, 17 severely, in subway attack" alone. Happening so soon after the attacks on Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, the Brussels attacks have prompted cities across Europe and America to increase their security. Brussels itself remains on lockdown while authorities determine the true extent of the explosions. As news about the events has traveled around the world, members of the public have been sharing their support, and an image created by French cartoonist Plantu is particularly popular on social media. So, who is Plantu?

Plantu's image shows two figures embracing, one wearing France's flag, the other wearing Belgium's. A heart above their heads, and the dates of the Paris and Brussels attacks underneath the figures, the cartoon is simple and heartfelt. So who is the cartoonist behind the image? Plantu is the pen name of French cartoonist Jean Plantureux, whose work is regularly featured in the newspaper Le Monde. Often political, Plantu's direct and poignant images speak on behalf of the general public who have been shocked by Tuesday's attacks on Brussels.

Plantu has been working at Le Monde since 1972. According to The Connexion, Plantu "is one of France's most famous satirical cartoonists," and "was destined for medicine — his parents' preference — but dropped out to study cartoon drawing at a school in Brussels." Plantu's connection with the city of Brussels is personal having studied there, and, as a Parisian, the cartoonist understands the impact of attacks like Tuesday's only too well.

Somewhat aptly, Plantu's "first published drawing was ... a peace dove with a question mark in its beak, commenting on hopes for resolution to the Vietnam War. International violence and corruption have been major themes of his, along with humorous takes on domestic politics." The French cartoonist has always been drawn to political affairs, and his cartoons keep discussion of international events alive.

The simplicity of Plantu's drawings, and their ability to transcend language barriers, is surely why his work appeals to so many people. Plantu's tribute to Brussels is heartbreaking, but reminds us that in the face of terrible attacks like the ones on Brussels and Paris, the public must unite.