Cover of Siné Hebdo issue 1, 10 September 2008
2008. Creating a magazine from scratch in three weeks during the summer, the challenge seemed impossible.
That was the reckoning of Maurice Sinet, “Siné”, one of the founders of Charlie Hebdo in 1992. He had just been sacked from Charlie Hebdo.
In his column, Siné criticised President Nicolas Sarkozy’s eldest son, Jean (then 21 years old), with words that, according to the publication’s editor, Philippe Val, were openly “anti-Semitic”. The article, which led to Siné’s dismissal, ironised Jean Sarkozy’s conversion to Judaism before marrying Jessica Sebaoun, daughter of the founder of the Darty chain of electrical appliance shops, who was of Jewish descent.
With the support of all those anonymous people and acquaintances who considered the dismissal arbitrary and unacceptable, the new magazine was born. The scathing counterattack was called Siné Hebdo. The success was beyond all expectations: 140,000 copies of the first issue, which came out on 10 September 2008, were sold.
Siné Hebdo in figures
The magazine, with a crazy team of writers, journalists and cartoonists, celebrated its first year with 2,700,000 copies sold. It received 50,000 e-mails and letters from readers, as well as 12,000 drawings, of which more than 2,650 were published.
To celebrate the anniversary of the “ill-educated newspaper” (journal mal enlevé), Siné Hebdo offered a selection of the best of what had passed through its pages, and appeared on newsstands with a 96-page volume, a mosaic of texts and drawings (almost 300) entitled “Un an… et toutes ses dents! (A year… and all its teeth!)
It represented the essence of such a combative publication, its fight against stupidity, terror and intellectual thought. All this without publicity.
As they said at the time:
“In the editorial office, we also invested for the success of our small business – let’s be honest -: 875 cartons of cigarettes, 1,500 cans of beer, 2 .500 litres of red wine, 1 bottle of Coca, 86 baskets of oysters, 124 sausages, 18 Bayonne hams, 85 packets of Nicorette, 1.000 passionate debates, 52 kilograms of sweets, 580 litres of liquid oxygen for the boss, a victory in the anti-Semitism trial filed by LICRA, a group of friends on Facebook, 4 smashed keyboards, dozens of laughs, glasses and voices, broken flowerpots, support from all over the world, attentive and inventive readers, thousands of subscribers, 4 sold-out printers, 35 boxes of Alka-Seltzer, many fruit salts… “
No hard feelings
Siné Hebdo , directed by Siné and his wife, the journalist Catherine Sinet as editor-in-chief, had among its ranks a large team of cartoonists including Ronald Searle, Jacques Tardi, Etienne Delessert, Loup, Jiho, Philippe Vuillemin, Philippe Geluck, Carali, Berth, Remi Malingrey, Yan Lindingre, Paul Avoine, Soulas, Mix et Remix, Bridenne and Bridenne, Kapsoulas, Mix et Remix, Bridenne or De Cressac.
Almost 6 and a half years after that first Siné Hebdo dedicated its 14 January cover with a call to action to buy Charlie Hebdo coinciding with the release of issue 1178, the first issue after the attack on 7 January 2015 that killed 12 people in an attack on its offices.
A gesture of honour.
*Maurice Sinet “Siné-, passed away on 5 May 2016 at the age of 87.