Peeters, Frederik 1974-

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Peeters, Frederik 1974-


Born 1974, in Switzerland; married; children: one stepson, one daughter. Education: Holds a degree in visual communications.


Home—Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, graphic designer, cartoonist, illustrator, graphic novelist, and memoirist. Illustrator and poster artist in advertising and for the Swiss press.


Töppfer Prize, Geneva, Switzerland, 2001, for Pilules Bleues (Blue Pills).


Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story (memoir), translated by Anjali Singh, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2008.

Author and artist of comics albums, including Fromage Configure, Brendon Bellard, and Lupus. Artist of comics series Koma.

Contributor to comics magazines, including Le Drozophile, Bille Noire, Lapin, and Spirou.

Author's works have been translated into Korean and Polish.


Swiss writer, artist, and graphic novelist Frederik Peeters is a graphic designer and professional illustrator in the advertising and media field. He works as a poster artist and illustrator for advertising agencies and newspapers throughout his native Switzerland. Working primarily in French, he has been a comics artist since 1992, when his work first appeared in the collaborative album Sauve qui peut. He has worked with prominent European comics publishers, including Humanoids Associates and Atrabile.

In the 1990s, the then-twenty-something Peeters met a young women with whom he fell deeply in love. She was lovely, vivacious, intelligent, and passionate. He became equally fond of her son, and it seemed as though the trio was well on the way toward becoming a blissfully happy family. The relationship was rocked, however, when she revealed to him that both she and her son were HIV positive, and that the disease would be a constant looming factor in their lives. Peeters recounts the story of this relationship in his autobiographical graphic novel, Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, published initially in French under the title Pilules Bleues.

With the real names of the characters changed, Peeters tells the story of how Fred met Cati, the love of his life. Fred had known the lively and spirited girl since they were both teenagers, and had nursed a mild crush on her ever since meeting her at a pool party. He describes how he ran into her again and again over the next few years, until a meeting at a New Year's Eve party ignited a mutual attraction and led to an ongoing relationship. Cati was divorced and had a young son, leading Fred to some difficult navigations of the boy's emotions, but soon the three established a secure involvement with each other.

When Cati finally revealed her HIV status to Fred, the news served only to bring them even closer together. Peeters relates the young couple's difficulties that manifest themselves in their lives. Cati must be constantly vigilant for signs of her illness. The couple engages in an active sex life, though one restricted by the necessity of always using a condom. When a condom breaks, they are terrified of the possibility that Fred might contract HIV, which their doctor reassures them is highly unlikely. Fred learns important lessons about parenting from Cati's son, and eventually the two decide to have another child, a daughter. Peeters illustrates the realities of living with HIV, but also the depths of love that can emerge despite the presence of disease and misfortune.

"Initially, even Peeters was unsure precisely what he wanted to say," commented reviewer Elizabeth Day in the London Guardian. "The first four pages of the book are abstract doodles, drawn from imagination as Peeters focuses his mind on how to tell his story. Then, when he takes up the narrative, he does so with a poetic economy of expression, alternately wry and sad. The disease proves to be a curious combination of stomach-churning terror and relentless, mundane routine." A Kirkus Reviews commentator observed: "This material would be sufficiently riveting if it were all prose, but the drawings of Peeters are what elevate the book to another level," while Library Journal critic Martha Cornog noted that Peeters's "muscular, black-and-white art suits his story perfectly."

Blue Pills is an "unquestionably important book" that "deserves a round of applause from everyone who has ever devoted breath or ink attempting to defend the credibility of the graphic novel," commented Brian Heater on the Daily Cross Hatch Web site. Curled Up with a Good Book Web site reviewer Lance Eaton called it a "touching, realistic, reflective graphic novel that proves how powerful and deep the medium can be." Booklist critic Francesca Goldsmith observed that "in the unvarnished humanity of the story lies the book's strength and attraction."

Peeters stresses the relative invisibility of HIV and AIDS and how it often exists in a person without showing any outward visible sign of its presence. Still, "despite its invisibility, Peeters has given this silent illness a powerful visual language of its own, one that manages to be eloquent, accessible and occasionally humorous," Day stated, concluding, "It is almost as if, by articulating his daily experience of the disease, it lost its power to terrify."



Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story (memoir), translated by Anjali Singh, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2008.


Booklist, September 15, 2007, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Blue Pills, p. 55.

Guardian (London, England), March 23, 2008, Elizabeth Day, "Frame by Frame: How to Make a Cartoon Drama out of a Crisis," profile of Frederik Peeters.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2007, review of Blue Pills.

Library Journal, January 1, 2008, Martha Cornog, review of Blue Pills, p. 72.

Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2008, Peter Terzian, "Negotiating Love, Family, and AIDS," review of Blue Pills.

Washington City Paper, January 2, 2008, Mark Athitakis, "To HIV and to Hold," review of Blue Pills.

World Literature Today, January-February, 2008, review of Blue Pills.


Comic Mix, (May 3, 2008), Andrew Wheeler, "Love and HIV in Switzerland," review of Blue Pills.

Curled Up with a Good Book, (July 16, 2008), Lance Eaton, review of Blue Pills.

Daily Cross Hatch, (October 25, 2007), Brian Heater, review of Blue Pills.

Ink Destroyed My Brush Web log, (February 17, 2008), Charles Yoakum, review of Blue Pills., (July 16, 2008), biography of Frederik Peeters.

Madinkbeard, (July 16, 2008), Derik Badman, review of Blue Pills.