Telling 75 years of the history of comics is for the general public, right?
Absolutely ! You know, there are two ways to teach history in school. The way ‘Marignan 1515’. And the other, under the angle ‘Once upon a time’. Lhistory of comics can follow exactly the same course. We can stack dates, names and currents, we will be interested maybe three researchers in semiology. Or one can on the contrary track down the anecdotes, the common threads, the great moments that marry those of the century. From then on, we no longer only talk about comics, we talk about life! This is what guided me in the first series of ten podcasts devoted last year to the life ofEdgar P. Jacobs. And that’s what I wanted to find with this much larger subject, both fascinating and little known. In reality, the thread i followed has never been the subject of any bookI invented the road, it took detours and surprised me even until the editing, where pages of history were written according to the fantasy and the precision of the testimonies.
Do you have to be a big comic book reader to listen to this series?
Not at all ! Everyone knows the Smurfs, Asterix, Lucky Luke, Spirou and Fantasio, Tintin, even without having read them. And beyond, when we talk about Buck Danyfrom Valerian and Laureline or of Screaming metal – the science fiction magazine that revolutionized comics in the 1970s –it will always be to talk about the life of theirs creators and how they nurtured from America before nurturing it back. Because what is fascinating, when we pull the thread of this story between them USA and l’French-speaking Europe in comics is thate Europeans go from one posture d’admiration as if happy to exchanges that sometimes had the air of conquest of American territory. And then, it must be said thatwe’re not just talking about comics in this series. There is a lot about cinema. Whether it’s animated films or big Hollywood blockbusters like Alien !
What impressed you the most, working on this subject?
No doubt it is to re-hear authors like Jijé, Franquin, Hergé, Goscinny or Jean-Michel Charlier dont la SONUMA has dozens of interviews. These great elders, who made modern comics, were often incredibly jovial and very sincere at the microphone. Jijé, as a reminder, has resumed Spirou and Fantasio during the war just after their creator Rob-Vel, and then transmitted them to Franquin. This brilliant designer, who has been a true mentor for generations of comic book authorsis a Walloon with a prodigious joie de vivre. America didn’t make him lose his earthy accent and on hears the laughter in his voice, as soon as he begins to tell! I do not get enough. As for Goscinny, who we know today for Asterix but who transformed in gold almost everything he touched, it is thrilling to listen to him speak with a caustic humor from his American yearsduring which he ate the rabid cow.
An unknown anecdote representative of what you are going to tell us?
There are a thousand! Let’s take the one I chose to open the series: Jijé’s American trip with his wife, his four children, Franquin and Morris. They leave by boat from Rotterdam, in 1948; they don’t really know what awaits them there. Arrived in New York, after some administrative setbacks, they hasten to leave for Los Angeles, crammed into a Hudson Commodore, in the hope of meeting the stars of American comics whose translations they have read in Belgian magazines. And once they arrive in Los Angeles, they learn that the Mecca of comics is behind them, in… New York!
So they retrace their steps?
Well no, because their tourist visas will soon expire! They go So go to Mexico and stay there for a year before being able to return to the United Stateswhile sending their boards to the Spirou’s journal every week ! It was not until 1949 that Morris, the father of Lucky Lukemoved to New York for five yearss. Jijé, for his part, settles down for two years in Connecticut with wife and children. As for Frank… il takes over the first boat for Europe. CeMexican-American equipped head from judge & Co is totally incredible, elle will occupy three of the ten episodes of the podcast as elle reserve of improbables anecdotes. It is among other things indirectly ce voyage who will change the course of Goscinny’s career . He arrived in 1945 in New York, where he tries in vain to break through as a draftsman. He does not know that it is as a scriptwriter that he is going to conquer the world. Sans his meeting with Jijé, Asterix would never have existed!No more than the magazine Pilot who revealed so many talents. And we can bet that Lucky Luke, of which he was the screenwriter from the mid-1950s, would never have had the same success either. Realize: Lucky Luke + Asterixit’s about 750 million albums sold today… it makes you dizzy.