He published over 140 Picture Books ranging from Children's Literature to adult works (as in, erotic), and from the fantastic to the autobiographical, primarily in English, German and French languages (the latter two being the ones he grew up with). He was known for his sharp social and political satire, his witty aphorisms in the same spirit as some forerunner cartoonists such as the French Honoré Daumier and the German George Grosz, and for being quite the oddball in general.
As a child, he had to endure the annexation of Alsace and Moselle by Nazi Germany during World War II, which inspired him pacifist and antiracist works. From 1956 to 1971, he lived and worked in the USA, supporting the Civil Rights Movement and opposing The Vietnam War with his posters and illustrations. When he came back to Europe, he lived alternately between Cork, Ireland (where his wife was from), and the city of Strasbourg (where he was born) from 1976 to his passing at age 87 in 2019.
A revered cultural figure in his native area, he has a museum dedicated to him in Strasbourg. There is an American documentary from 2012 about him, titled Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story.
Some of his works:
Tropes in his works:
- Animated Adaptation:
- The Three Robbers (Les Trois Brigands / Die drei Räuber) was adapted first as an American cartoon short by Gene Deitch in 1972, then as a German feature film in 2007 by Hayo Freitag.
- Moon Man (Jean de la Lune / Der Mondmann) was adapted by Stephan Schesch as a French-Irish-German co-production film in 2012.
- He Also Did:
- Not Safe for Work: At the museum housing works and toys of his in Strasbourg, his erotic drawings are exhibited in the underground level, which cannot be accessed by minors.
- Propaganda Machine: He kept a collection of Nazi propaganda pictures and papers and published it, as well as recalled his own memories of it with testimonies and his own art, in the book Propaganda - Histoire de se souvenir (Propaganda - Just to Remember).
- Reluctant Monster: Somewhat downplayed but still in this vein, many of his children's books star disliked animals like a constrictor, a vulture etc.
- Sorcerer's Apprentice Plot: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Guillaume l'apprenti sorcier in French), a picture book inspired by the story originally written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.