The Female Cartoonist Who Survived the Charlie Hebdo Attack

Cristen Conger

Corinne "Coco" Rey. Courtesy: Courleux Sans Frontieres

This week on the podcast, Caroline and I devoted both episodes to the history of (mostly) American women in comics and cartoons. Meanwhile, outside the Stuff Mom Never Told You studio, Paris has been mourning the terrorist attacks that took place last week. On Jan. 07, gunman killed a dozen people at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, including four cartoonists: Stéphane Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut and Bernard Verlhac.

That day, another Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, Corinne "Coco" Rey, picked up her daughter from daycare and was met by the masked armed terrorists at the Charlie Hebdo gates. After being "brutally threatened," Rey told French newspaper L'Humanite, she entered the building's security code, allowing the gunmen in with her where they commenced to massacre.

Hiding underneath her desk, Rey and her daughter survived the attack. Journalist Sigolène Vinson, who also survived, has said in subsequent interviews the gunmen explicitly stated they wouldn't slay women. However, psychoanalyst and Charlie Hebdo columnist Elsa Cayat was killed.

I couldn't find any more details about Rey and her work. In the world of political and editorial cartooning, though, Rey and other women are rarities. As we mentioned at the top of Women in Comics, Part 2, there are fewer than a handful of women political and editorial cartoonists employed at major American newspapers. And in reporting on the four murdered cartoonists, the New York Times headlined the article "The Men Behind the Cartoons at Charlie Hebdo."

The cover of the first Charlie Hebdo issue after the attack, which immediately sold out an initial run of 3 million copies, was drawn by a staff cartoonist who goes by the pen name Luz. After enduring such a horrific event, particularly with her child in tow, I can only wonder when and what Corinne "Coco" Rey will cartoon next.

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