Graphic novel

Catherine Meurisse

Lightness, that’s all I lost on 7 January and that’s what I am trying to rediscover. [...] Lightness is also drawing.

She was the only woman on the team of full-time artists at Charlie Hebdo. Catherine Meurisse narrowly escaped the 7th January 2015 terrorist attack on the satirical newspaper’s headquarters. She continues to draw despite her fallen comrades.


Updated on 19/10/2021

2 min

How do you become the only woman in the team of full-time cartoonists for Charlie Hebdo? Born in 1980 in the Niort countryside, Catherine Meurisse initially studied French language and literature in Poitiers, then enrolled at the École Supérieure des Arts et Industries Graphics (École Estienne) before becoming a Decorative Arts student in Paris.

Winner of several awards during her studies, she was spotted by the Charlie Hebdo team in 2001 during a newspaper-drawing competition. Soon after graduating in 2005, the satirical newspaper hired her. From there, she established her career as a cartoonist, illustrator and comic writer. On 7th January 2015, being late for the Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting meant that she escaped the attack which left 12 dead, including 8 members of the newspaper.

Since 2006, Catherine Meurisse has participated in Charlie Hebdo’s collective comic-books. As an illustrator, she works in children’s literature and the press. Whether providing an overview of French literature in My Men of Letters (“Mes Hommes de lettres”) (2008), focusing on friendships between writers and painters in The Arts Bridge (“Le Pont des arts”) (2012) or imagining a musical at the Musée d’Orsay in A Modern Olympia (“Moderne Olympia “) (2014), literature and the arts are the preferred subjects of her works.

After the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, she wrote about her returning to life Lightness (“La Légèreté”) (2016), then inked physical desire with Scenes from a Hormonal Life (“Scènes de la vie hormonale”) (2016). In 2017, with the choreographer DD Dorvillier, she created Do you see her running away? (“Vois-tu celle-là qui s'enfuit"), a dialogue between dance and drawing.

Because it violently shattered a French symbol of freedom of the press, the attack on Charlie Hebdo in 2015 had a major international impact. Having escaped this fatal event, Catherine Meurisse had to cross France's borders in order to try to experience beauty again.

It was at the Villa Médicis in Rome that the cartoonist attempted to rebuild herself by continuing her quest to experience “Stendhal syndrome”, that shock in the face of great beauty which she had once felt. This was a life-saving time which allowed her to draw again. Lightness, which describes the desire to create again, has been translated into German (Die Leitchtigkeit, 2016) and Spanish (La levedad, 2017).

  • 2005


    Catherine Meurisse joins the editorial staff of satirical journal Charlie Hebdo. 2008

  • 2008


    Her first personal graphic novel, My Men of Letters, is released.

  • 2014


    A Modern Olympia is selected as an official entry at the Angoulême Festival and wins the Artemisia Prize.

  • 2015


    The attacks on Charlie Hebdo turn her life upside down.

  • 2016


    Publication of Lightness and Scenes from a Hormonal Life.

The Institut français and the author

Catherine Meurisse travelled to meet her German readers in 2017 with the support of the Institut français.


In 2018, she spent time at the Villa Kujoyama, a residency for artists in Japan supported by the Institut français.


Learn more about the Villa Kujoyama.



L'institut français, LAB