André Franquin

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Rupert Bear (Mary Tourtel)

Franquin signatureMarsupilami jumping

Franquin caricatureCompared with Mary Tourtel and her creation of Rupert the Bear, here we have quite a different comic artist, a Belgian listening to the name André Franquin (1923/1997). Nothing is static here, anything and everything is in movement. Renowned for his creation of Gaston and Marsupilami. This is pre-eminently an European comic, most particularly in France, Belgium and the Netherlands (French and translated Dutch versions). Not so much of any of this appears translated into the English language.

This is just a little tribute page and a brief analysis of the genius of this artist. And he was more than just a comic artist. In fact a pacifist that opposed totalitarian systems. This expressed itself in the series ‘Spirou et Fantasio’ (‘Robbedoes’ in Netherlands) that in 1959 introduced the creation of Zorglub (Zwendel in Netherlands). The genius inventor of a beam that exert a perfect form of mind control onto those that are put under its influence (see album ‘Z comme Zorglub’, in Netherlands ‘Z van Zwendel’, in English ‘Z is for Zorglub’). All this of course is very frightening. But Spirou is no serious comic and its readers were youngsters, and so we do find a lot of sarcasm put in there. It appears that Zorglub wasn't all that bad, when in the final end it is revealed why he did all that he did. Something that I will not disclose here. In essence this Zorglub appears a very sad figure, a very lonely person in fact with a hectic temper. ZorglubOne that is also easily lead behind the curtain and do work for the really evil one's. All in the greatest innocence. This we find occurring in the 2nd album in 1961 with Zorglub (‘L'ombre du Z’, in Netherlands ‘De schaduw van Z’). We may see here the close observer André franquin that obviously is very aware of the dangers of society and the erratic behaviour of man. André Franquin let Zorglub made one more appearances in the Spirou series. Noteworthy is the parody that we find in this 3rd album from 1967 (‘Panade à Champignac’, in Netherlands ‘Hommeles in Rommelgem’) in where Zorglub previously at the end of the 2nd album had become a victim of the misfire of one of his own inventions when it was used against him. It turned him in having the mind of a baby that was stuck in an adult body. A irony because ‘baby’ also needed to be shaved. He gets cured in the end after being subjected for a long time to his old invention the mind controlling beam. These 3 albums reveal a lot about André Franquin himself, his ideas and his views.

But he wanted something else. Finally in 1977 through a supplement to ‘Le Journal de Spirou’, called ‘Le Trombone illustré’ he got his hands free to develop his ‘Idées Noires’ (Zwartkijken in Netherlands). It is black humor à la Hitchcock so to speak. The supplement carried a variety of fellow artists of André Franquin that applauded the opportunity to do something different. Obviously it would have been very gruesome to view these Idées Noires if it was printed in colour. The message of the misstandings in society after all was the target. For this reason it was drawn in black and white in the way as we see here below. Either way this supplement to ‘Le Journal de Spirou’ was not found suitable by its publishers for its predominant younger public and was thus discontinued. They were continued since 1983 in the magazine ‘Fluide glacial’. And so we were able to continue to enjoy these creations. They were also compiled together in 2 albums issued in 1981 and 1984 at least in the French and Dutch language.

Idee Noires


Gaston et chatHis creation Gaston Lagaffe (Guust Flater in Netherlands) was born in 1957. A sort of a free being. Basically with the mind of a genius, absentminded as a professor, and very lazy except when it concerned matters that he personally burned for. He first appeared as some drawings in‘Le Journal de Spirou’, then after a while he got officially introduced and appeared in half page gags. Some time after that it turned into a whole page. This creation is very explosive, lots of irony, and jokes. There really is a lot happening in the drawings. There are many details to watch for. 


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