We’ve seen the tribute art. We’ve heard people like Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien talk about it. But for the past couple of days, one burning question has been about how Charlie Hebdo itself would address the tragedy perpetrated on the satirical publication earlier this week. Reports indicate that the magazine has promised to publish an issue next Wednesday, and other media entities, including Google, have stepped up to help surviving staffers fulfill that promise, possibly to the tune of one million copies. Now, an image has surfaced that indicates how the magazine will address the attack, and it is just as bold, haunting, and bleakly funny as one might have hoped.
An image reported to be the cover of next week’s Charlie Hebdo (other reports indicate it’s the creation of the French TV show, Les Guignols de l’Info, on behalf of the magazine) made its way online today and it’s a stunner. The image is that of a completely black page with just the text, “Urgent recherche 6 dessinateurs,” which translates to “Urgently seeking six cartoonists.” This is more than gallows humor. That expression describes laughs that ward off despair at the threat of death. This cover shows a satiric periodical keeping its humor intact after encountering death as a direct response to that very humor. While the cover of next week’s issue of The New Yorker may be elegant and tasteful, this reported cover of Charlie Hebdo is a daring and defiant nose-thumbing in the face of death and also censorship. If it’s real, it deserves our applause, and if it’s not, the sentiment deserves the same. Je suis Charlie.