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By Fournier, Tome & Janry

Spirou et Fantasio

Robbedoes en Kwabbernoot
Some of the main characters of Spirou et Fantasio, from the album Tembo Tabou.
From left to right, back row: Marsupilami, Spirou, Fantasio
Front row: Spip.
Publication information
Publisher Spirou
Dupuis (French)
Cinebook Ltd (English)
Publication date 1938 – now
Main character(s) Spirou
Creative team
Writer(s) JijéFranquin
Artist(s) JijéFranquin
Fournier – Broca – Janry
Creator(s) Robert Velter

Spirou et Fantasio (Spirou and Fantasio) is one of the most popular classic Franco-Belgian comic strips. The series, which has been running since 1938, shares many characteristics with other European humorous adventure comics like Tintin and Asterix. It has been written and drawn by a succession of artists.

Spirou and Fantasio are the series’ main characters, two adventurous journalists who run into fantastic adventures, aided by Spirou’s pet squirrel Spip and their inventor friend the Count of Champignac.


Origins of Spirou

Rob-Vel’s Spirou

The comic strip was originally created by Rob-Vel for the launch of the Le Journal de Spirou on April 21, 1938, published by Éditions Dupuis.[1] The main character was originally an elevator (lift) operator (in French: un groom) for the Moustique Hotel (in reference to the publisher’s chief magazine, Le Moustique), and remains dressed in his red bellhop uniform to this day although there was no relevance to his original occupation for many years. Spirou (the name means “squirrel” (lit.) and “mischievous” (fig.) in Walloon) has a pet squirrel called Spip, the series’ first supporting character, who was introduced on June 8, 1939 in the story arc titled L’Heritage de Bill Money and liberated in the following week’s issue, remaining a presence in all Spirou stories since.[2][3]

Spip’s liberation, June 15, 1939

Adding to the difficulties of magazine publication that came with the outbreak of World War II, Velter joined the army effort, and his wife Blanche Dumoulin, using the pen name Davine, continued the work on the Spirou strip, with the aid of the young Belgian artist Luc Lafnet.[4][5] Spirou became the property of the publisher Dupuis, (atypical in France and Belgium where most comics characters are owned by their creator(s)), who bought the character from Rob-Vel in 1943, and since then the series has belonged to no specific author.[6] The title has therefore subsequently been passed on to several different artists and writers.

The first succession came in 1943 when Joseph Gillain, known by the pen name Jijé, was given charge of the character. In 1944 Jijé introduced a new character, Fantasio, who would become Spirou’s best friend and co-adventurer.[1] Holding many artistic commitments at Le Journal de Spirou, Jijé sought to delegate much of his work, and in 1946 he handed the series to his understudy, the young André Franquin, in the middle of the production of the story Spirou et la maison préfabriquée.[7]

Franquin’s Spirou

Franquin developed the strip from single gags and short serials into long adventures with complex plots, and is usually considered as the definitive author of the strip. He introduced a large gallery of recurring characters, notably the Count de Champignac, elderly scientist and inventor; the buffoonish mad scientist Zorglub; Fantasio’s cousin and aspiring dictator Zantafio; and the journalist Seccotine, a rare instance of a major female character in Belgian comics of this period.

Spirou et les héritiers, 1952, by Franquin

One Franquin creation that went on to develop a life of its own was the Marsupilami, a fictional monkey-like creature with a tremendously long prehensile tail. The Marsupilami appears in the majority of the Franquin stories, starting in 1952 with Spirou et les héritiers. In the series, it is adopted by the duo and follows them everywhere they go. Marsupilamis in the wild take centre stage briefly in Le nid des Marsupilamis (1957) which presents Seccotine’s documentary featuring a family in their natural habitat, the jungles of the fictitious South American state Palombia.

Starting with Le prisonnier du Bouddha (1959), Franquin began to work with Greg (writing) and Jidéhem (backgrounds). As in some of his later series (Bruno Brazil, Bernard Prince), Greg staged his stories in a realistic geopolitical context. Le prisonnier du Bouddha is set in mainland China, with veiled references made to the Cold War. As for QRN sur Bretzelburg, it takes place in two imaginary European countries which bring to mind pre-reunification Germany. Lastly, it is with Greg that Franquin created famed villain Zorglub in the diptych of Z comme Zorglub and L’ombre du Z.

However, as Franquin grew tired of Spirou, his other major character Gaston began to take precedence in his work, and following the controversial Panade à Champignac, the series passed on to a then unknown young cartoonist, Jean-Claude Fournier, in 1969. One side effect of this is that the Marsupilami would only appear in one last story, Le faiseur d’or. This is because Franquin decided to retain the rights to that character; all the other characters remained the property of the publisher. Starting with Du glucose pour Noémie, there would be no more appearances of the Marsupilami in Spirou et Fantasio, with the exception of a few discreet references. Only in the 1980s did the Marsupilami reappear in its own series, and later television cartoon and videogame.

A long transition

Fournier authored nine books in the series, which saw Spirou evolve into a more modern character. Where Franquin’s stories tended to be politically neutral (in his later works, notably Idées noires, he would champion pacifist and environmental views), Fournier’s stint on Spirou addressed such hot topics (for the 1970s) as nuclear energy (L’Ankou), drug-funded dictatorships (Kodo le tyran) and Duvalier-style repression (Tora Torapa).

Fournier introduced some new characters such as Ororéa, a beautiful girl reporter with whom Fantasio was madly in love with (in contrast with his loathing for Seccotine); Itoh Kata, a Japanese magician; and an occult SPECTRE-like criminal organisation known as The Triangle. None of these were reused by later artists until some thirty years later when Itoh Kata appeared in Morvan and Munuera’s Spirou et Fantasio à Tokyo.

However, at the end of the 1970s Fournier’s pace began to slow down and the publisher, Dupuis, sought new authors to replace him. For a time, three separate teams worked on concurrent stories. Nic Broca (art) and Raoul Cauvin (writing) took on Fournier’s lead without adding much to the characters. Their primary addition to the Spirou universe, namely the “Black box”, a device which annihilates sound, is in fact an acknowledged rehash from an early Sophie story by Jidéhem (La bulle du silence). Strangely, the authors were not allowed by the publisher to use any of the side characters and because of this, the duo’s three stories read somewhat like a parenthesis in the series.

Yves Chaland’s case

Yves Chaland proposed a far more radical make-over. His (very short) stint on Spirou is an ironic re-staging of the strip as it was in the 40s. This homage to Jijé and early Franquin was seen at the time as too sophisticated for the mainstream readership. It was prepublished in 1982 in Le Journal de Spirou, n°2297 to n°2318, printed in two-colour, but was interrupted before it was completed. This unfinished story was first collected in an unofficial album in 1984, À la recherche de Bocongo, and then, legally, under the name of Cœurs d’acier (Champaka editor, 1990). This last edition includes the original strips, and a text by Yann Le Pennetier, illustrated by Chaland, that finishes the interrupted story.[8]

Spirou in contemporary times – Tome & Janry

Vito la Déveine, 1991, by Tome & Janry

It was the team of Tome (writing) and Janry (art) which was to find lasting success with Spirou, both in terms of sales and critical appeal. Graphically, the authors’ work was seen as a modern homage to Franquin’s classic work, while their plots involved such modern topics as biotech (Virus), robotics (Qui arrêtera Cyanure?) and even time travel (The diptych of L’horloger de la comète and Le réveil du Z, featuring future descendants of the Count and Zorglub). Their position as the official Spirou authors made them the flagship team to a whole new school of young, likeminded artists, such as Didier Conrad, Bernard Hislaire or Frank Le Gall, who had illustrious careers of their own. For a time, Spirou also acted as a side character in Frank Pé‘s short-lived absurd humor strip L’Élan (originally published in the weekly Spirou magazine).

With La jeunesse de Spirou (1987), Tome and Janry set out to imagine Spirou’s youth. This idea was later developed into a spin-off series, Le Petit Spirou (“Young Spirou”), which details the antics of the character as an elementary school boy. A lot of the gags center around the character’s interest in the opposite sex. It is generally acknowledged, however, that the Petit Spirou doesn’t have very much in common, psychologically speaking, with the adult character.

A new villain, the unlucky Mafia boss Vito “Lucky” Cortizone, based on the character Vito Corleone from the The Godfather movies, was introduced in Spirou à New-York, while Spirou à Moscou (1990) sees Spirou and Fantasio pay their first visit to the USSR, just as it was about to collapse (the country was dissolved in 1991).

In Machine qui rêve (1998), Tome and Janry tried to once again renew the series with a more mature storyline (wounded hero, love relationships, etc.), coupled with a more realistic graphic style. This sudden shift into a darker tone shocked many readers, although its seeds were apparent in previous Spirou albums and in other series by the same authors (Soda, Berceuse assassine). While many considered the change in tone to be courageous and laudable, there was some concern that Spirou lost much of its point when presented as a “realistic” character. At any rate, the controversy caused Tome & Janry to concentrate on Le Petit Spirou, and stop making albums in the main series.

Spirou in the 21st century

Morvan & Munuera

Then, after a 6 years break, which only saw the publication of L’accélérateur atomique, a Spirou spoof by Lewis Trondheim not included in the official series (but which received Dupuis’ approval), the series went back to a more classical storytelling mode with seasoned cartoonists Jean-David Morvan (writing) and José-Luis Munuera (art). The latter kept close to the spirit of Franquin‘s graphical style, while bringing its own touch of manga-inspired modernism. Morvan and Munuera’s Spirou is partly remarkable in that it uses background elements and secondary characters from the whole history of the title, and not just from Franquin’s period.

The duo’s third album, Spirou et Fantasio à Tokyo was released 20 September 2006. Spirou and Fantasio uncover the story of two children with telekinetic powers (similarly to the manga Akira) that are forced to construct an edo and meiji period theme park. Dupuis has also released as Spirou et Fantasio 49Z a manga story by Hiroyuki Oshima after an idea by Morvan. This story tells Spirou’s adolescence as a groom in a 5 star Tokyo hotel.[9]

Due to a significant decline in sales, Dupuis decided to cease Morvan and Munuera work in Spirou in January 2007. [10] However, they were allowed to complete one last album, Aux sources du Z, which was released 5 November 2008, with the help of scenarist Yann.[11]

Yoann & Vehlmann

In January 2009, it was announced in Spirou #3694 that Morvan and Munuera would be succeeded by Fabien Vehlmann and Yoann, who had together created the first volume of Une aventure de Spirou et Fantasio par…. Their first album in the regular series was announced for October 2009,[12] but was later pushed back to September 3 2010 and is named Alerte aux zorkons[13].

Le Spirou de…

In 2006, Dupuis launched a second series of one-off volumes by various authors, under the name Une aventure de Spirou et Fantasio par… (“A Spirou and Fantasio adventure by…”). It has subsequently been renamed “Le Spirou de…” (“The Spirou story by…”)

The first volume, Les géants pétrifiés by Fabien Vehlmann and Yoann, had a modern storyline and art, not dissimilar in spirit to Morvan and Munuera’s work.[14] The second volume, Les marais du temps, by Frank Le Gall, is drawn in a more classic style not dissimilar to Tintin and Théodore Poussin, Le Gall’s own comic series. The third, Le tombeau des Champignac, by Yann and Fabrice Tarrin, is a slightly modernized homage to Franquin’s classic period. The fourth, Journal d’un ingénu, by Emile Bravo, is a novelistic homage to the original Rob-Vel and Jijé‘s universes and stories, and was released to critical acclaim, being awarded at the Angoulême festival. The fifth, Le groom vert-de-gris by Yann and Olivier Schwartz, is based on one of Yann’s old scripts from the 80’s originally intended to have been drawn by Chaland, while the editor rejected it. Yann picked up the artist Schwartz, working in a similar style, to complete the story. The story takes place among the resistance movement in the Nazi-occupied Belgium. Unlike traditional Spirou stories, but similar to other works by Yann, the story features rather much dark humour and political satire. It was released once again to some acclaim but also attracted controversy for its cavalier approach to sensitive issues. The sixth album, Panique en Atlantique, authored by Lewis Trondheim and Fabrice Parme, was released on April 16th, 2010.


Main and recurring Spirou et Fantasio characters:

  • Spirou – The main character. An investigative reporter with a strong sense of justice.
  • Fantasio – Spirou’s best friend and co-adventurer, a reporter with a hot temper.
  • Spip – Spirou’s grouchy pet squirrel.
  • The Marsupilami – A very unusual creature captured in a South-American jungle by Spirou and Fantasio. Marsupilami is the name of the species, and the creature never acquired an individual name. Often referred to as “the little animal” even though it can terrorise anything and anyone!
  • Count of Champignac – Spirou and Fantasio’s eccentric scientist friend.
  • The Mayor of Champignac. Petty, pompous, ineffectual and two-faced, he is mostly memorable for his trademark speeches in which he piles up mixed metaphors sky-high.
  • Seccotine – Their fellow reporter, a friend and rival at the same time. Gets on Fantasio’s nerves, but a priceless ally.
  • Gaston Lagaffe – The main source of disaster and gags at the Spirou magazine offices. While he is the hero of his own series, he makes a few guest appearances in Spirou stories.
  • Ororéa – Another brave female reporter, of Polynesian descent.
  • Itoh Kata – A Japanese scientist and magician.


  • Zorglub – A mad scientist. A former colleague of the Count of Champignac from university days, he later boasts that he could take over the world, but really wants to be recognised as the greatest scientist of all time. He later rehabilitates and becomes a friend of the protagonists.
  • Zantafio – Fantasio’s evil cousin.
  • John Helena “la Murène” (the moray) – A brutal maritime criminal.
  • Don Vito “Lucky” Cortizone – New York mafia boss, father of a dangerous woman called Luna.
  • Cyanure, a gynoid.


This list includes French titles, their English translation, and the first year of publication


  • Spirou et l’aventure, 1948, featuring:
    • Le meeting aérien (The Aerial Meeting), 1943
    • Autour du monde avec le pilote rouge (Around the World with the Red Pilot), 1944
    • Le voyage dans le temps (The Voyage in Time), 1944-45
    • L’enlèvement de Spip (The Abduction of Spip), 1945
    • La jeep de Fantasio (Fantasio’s Jeep), 1945-46. Also in hors-séries H2.
    • Fantasio et le Fantôme (Fantasio and the Ghost), 1946. Also in hors-séries H4

André Franquin

Jean-Claude Fournier

Nic & Cauvin

Tome & Janry

Morvan & Munuera

Yoann & Vehlmann

Special issues (“hors-séries”)

  • 1. L’Héritage (The inheritance). Featuring:
    • Fantasio et son Tank (Fantasio and his tank, 1946, Franquin)
    • L’Héritage (1946, Franquin)
  • 2. Radar le robot (Radar the robot). Featuring:
    • La maison préfabriquée (The prefabricated house, 1946, Jijé & Franquin)
    • Radar le robot (1947, Franquin)
    • Le Homard (The lobster, 1957, Franquin)
  • 3. La voix sans maître et 5 autres aventures (The voice without owner and 5 other adventures). Featuring stories by:
    • Rob-Vel: La naissance de Spirou (Spirou’s birth, 1938); Spirou et la puce (Spirou and the flea, 1943)
    • Franquin: Fantasio et le siphon (Fantasio and the siphon, 1957)
    • Nic: Le fantacoptère solaire (The solar fantacopter, 1980)
    • Tome & Janry: La voix sans maître (1981); La menace (The menace, 1982); La Tirelire est là (The money box is there, 1984); Une semaine de Spirou et Fantasio (A week of Spirou and Fantasio, 2001)
  • 4. Fantasio et le fantôme et 4 autres aventures (Fantasio and the ghost and other 4 adventures). Featuring stories by:
    • Jijé: Fantasio et le fantôme (1946)
    • Franquin: La Zorglumobile (The Zorgumovil, 1976); Noël dans la brousse (Christmas in the bush, 1949); Fantasio et les pantins téléguidés (Fantasio and the remote-controlled skates, 1957)
    • Yves Chaland: Cœurs d’acier (Steel Hearts, 1982)
    • Fournier: Vacances à Brocéliande (Holidays at Broceliland, 1973; Joyeuses Pâques, Papa! (Happy Easter, dad!, 1971)

 One-shots: Une aventure de Spirou et Fantasio par…

  • 1. Les géants pétrifiés (The Petrified Giants, 2006, by Fabien Vehlmann (story) and Yoann (art)) [14]
  • 2. Les marais du temps (The Marshlands of Time, 2007, by Frank Le Gall)
  • 3. Le tombeau des Champignac (The Tomb of the Champignacs, 2007, by Yann (story) and Fabrice Tarrin (art))
  • 4. Spirou, le journal d’un ingénu (Spirou, An Ingenuous [Boy]’s Diary, 2008, by Emile Bravo)
  • 5. Le Groom Vert-de-Gris (2009, by Yann (story) and Schwartz (art) )
  • 6. Panique en Atlantique (2010, by Lewis Trondheim (story) and Fabrice Parme (art))


The strip has been translated to several languages, among them Catalan[16] Dutch, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Japanese[citation needed], Finnish, Scandinavian languages, Serbo-Croatian, Turkish, Bahasa Indonesia, Icelandic and Vietnamese. One book, number 15, was translated into English, by Fantasy Flight Publishing in 1995. This edition is out of print. Book 16 was partially translated but never published [17].

Egmont has printed and released English translations of Spirou in 2007 in India through its Indian subsidiary (Euro Books). So far, albums no 1-11 and 14 have been translated.[18] [19]

Cinebook has started publishing the series in October 2009.[20] Two books have been released so far:

  1. Spirou & Fantasio: Adventure Down Under (Aventure en Australie), 2009, ISBN 9781849180115
  2. Spirou & Fantasio in New York, 2010, ISBN 9781849180542


On October 3, 1988, the Belgian Post issued a stamp featuring Spirou, drawn by Tome & Janry, in the series of comic stamps for youth philately. This was the fourth Belgian stamp showing a comic hero.[21]

On February 26, 2006 the French Post issued a set of 3 Spirou et Fantasio stamps, featuring art by José-Luis Munuera. To commemorate the occasion, the Musée de la Poste de Paris (Paris Mail Museum) organized an exposition from February 27 to October 7 2006 with two halls, one showing original plates and the other more recreational, with television, games, etc.[22]


  1. ^ a b Lambiek Comiclopedia. “Spirou Comic Magazine”.
  2. ^ “Historique – Rob-Vel” (in French).
  3. ^ “L’Heritage de Bill Money”.
  4. ^ Lambiek Comiclopedia. “Rob-Vel”.
  5. ^ “François Robert Velter, dit Rob-Vel” (in French).
  6. ^ Bedetheque. “Rob-Vel”. (French)
  7. ^ “Une vie – 1946” (in French).
  8. ^ Included in L’intégrale Chaland (Humanoïdes Associés, 1997. ISBN 2-7316-1243-6), and Special Edition n°4 (Dupuis ed.)
  9. ^ a b Spirou et Fantasio – Inédits: En manga
  10. ^ InediSpirou – Morvan & Munuera arrêtent Spirou(French)
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ ToutenBD reports the new authors for Spirou (24 January 2009)
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ a b One-Shots – Les Géants Pétrifiés
  15. ^ Spirou et Fantasio à Tokyo
  16. ^
  17. ^ Translator’s note [3][4]
  18. ^ Belgian favourite Spirou & Fantasio now in India
  19. ^ Euro-comics: English translations English translations: Spirou and Fantasio
  20. ^ Spirou & Fantasio entry in the Cinebook catalog [5]
  21. ^ Image of Spirou stamp with info in Dutch
  22. ^ Spirou et la poste française

External links

André Franquin

Born 3 January 1924(1924-01-03)
Etterbeek, Belgium
Died 5 January 1997(1997-01-05) (aged 73)
Saint-Laurent-du-Var, France
Nationality Belgian
Area(s) Writer, Artist
Notable works Spirou et Fantasio
Gaston Lagaffe
Idées noires
Awards full list
Franquin's signature

André Franquin (3 January 1924 – 5 January 1997) was an influential Belgian comics artist, whose best known comic strip creations are Gaston and Marsupilami, created while he worked on the Spirou et Fantasio comic strip from 1947 to 1969, during a period seen by many as the series’ golden age.



Franquin’s beginnings

Franquin was born in Etterbeek in 1924.[1] Although he started drawing at an early age, Franquin got his first actual drawing lessons at École Saint-Luc in 1943. A year later however, the school was forced to close down because of the war and Franquin was then hired by CBA, a short-lived animation studio in Brussels. It is there he met some of his future colleagues: Maurice de Bevere (Morris, creator of Lucky Luke), Pierre Culliford (Peyo, creator of the Smurfs), and Eddy Paape. Three of them (minus Peyo) were hired by Dupuis in 1945, following CBA’s demise. Peyo, still too young, would only follow them seven years later. Franquin started drawing covers and cartoons for Le Moustique, a weekly magazine about radio and culture.[1] He also worked for Plein Jeu, a monthly scouting magazine.

During this time, Morris and Franquin were coached by Joseph Gillain (Jijé), who had transformed a section of his house into a work space for the two young cartoonists and Will. Jijé was then producing many of the comics that were published in the comics magazine Le Journal de Spirou, including its flagship series Spirou et Fantasio. The team he had assembled at the end of the war is often referred to as La bande des quatre (lit. “The Gang of Four”), and the graphical style they would develop together was later called the Marcinelle school, Marcinelle being an outskirt of the industrial city of Charleroi south of Brussels where Spirou’s publisher Dupuis was then situated.

Jijé passed the Spirou et Fantasio strip to Franquin, five boards into the making of Spirou et la maison préfabriquée, and from Spirou issue #427 released 20 June 1946, the young Franquin held creative responsibility of the series.[2] For the next twenty years, Franquin largely reinvented the strip, creating longer, more elaborate storylines and a large gallery of burlesque characters.

Most notable among these is the Marsupilami, a fictional monkey-like creature. The inspiration for the Marsupilami’s extremely long, prehensile tail came by imagining an appendage for the busy tramway conductors the Marcinelle cartoonists often encountered on their way to work. This animal has become part of Belgian and French popular culture, and has spawned cartoons, merchandise, and since 1989 a comic book series of its own. The cartoons have broadened its appeal to English-speaking countries.

Mid period

By 1951, Franquin had found his style. His strip, which appeared every week on the first page of Spirou, was a hit. Following Jijé’s lead in the 1940s, Franquin coached a younger generation of cartoonists in the 1950s, notably Jean Roba, Jidéhem and Greg, who all worked with him on Spirou et Fantasio.

In 1955, following a contractual dispute with his publisher Dupuis, Franquin went for a short stint at Tintin, the rival magazine. This led to the creation of Modeste et Pompon, a gag series which included contributions from René Goscinny (of Astérix fame) and Peyo. Franquin later returned to Spirou, but his contractual commitment to Tintin meant that he had to contribute to both magazines, an unusual arrangement in the comic industry. The series was later passed on to authors such as Dino Attanasio and Mittéï.

In 1957, Spirou chief editor Yvan Delporte gave Franquin the idea for a new figure, Gaston Lagaffe (from the French gaffe, meaning “blunder”). Initially a joke designed to fill up blank space in the magazine, the weekly strip, detailing the mishaps and madcap ideas and inventions of a terminally idle office boy working at the Spirou offices, took off and became one of Franquin’s best-known creations. The character Gaston Lagaffe is often hailed as the first anti-hero (in the sense of a protagonist lacking all heroic qualities, not a villain) in the comic’s history.[1]

However, Franquin soon suffered a period of depression, which forced him to stop drawing Spirou for a time. This happened between 1961 and 1963, in the middle of QRN sur Bretzelburg. During this time, he continued to draw Gaston despite ill health, most likely because of the lighter nature of the series. (In one story, Bravo Les Brothers, Gaston’s antics drive his boss Fantasio to yet another nervous breakdown. In desperation he takes some anti-depressants which “Franquin left behind”.)

In 1967, Franquin passed Spirou et Fantasio on to a young cartoonist, Jean-Claude Fournier, and began to work full-time on his own creations.

He was part of the team that developed the concept of Isabelle, the adventures of a little girl in a world of witches and monsters. The character was named after Franquin’s daughter.

Gaston gradually evolved from pure slapstick humor to feature themes important to Franquin, such as pacifism and environmentalism. Franquin worked on the strip on and off until his death.

Franquin’s later period

The 1960s saw a clear evolution in Franquin’s style, which grew more loose and intricate. This graphical evolution would continue throughout the next decade. Soon, Franquin was considered an undisputed master of the art form, on par with the likes of Hergé (who on interview said he thought Franquin an artist while he was just a cartoonist)[3], and his influence can be seen in the work of nearly every cartoonist hired by Spirou up until the end of the 1990s. Early comic fanzines from around 1970 featured Franquin’s Monsters, individual drawings of imaginary beasts highlighting his graphical craftmanship.

The last, and most radical, shift in Franquin’s production happened in 1977, when he went through another nervous breakdown and began his Idées Noires strip (lit. “Dark Thoughts”), first for the Spirou supplement, Le Trombone Illustré (with other cartoonists like René Follet) and later for Fluide Glacial.[1] With Idées Noires, Franquin showed the darker, pessimistic side of his nature. In one strip, a pair of flies are seen wandering through a strange landscape, discussing the mistakes of their predecessors. In the final panel, we see the landscape is a city made from human skulls, and one fly responds: “Don’t be too hard on them, they did leave us such splendid cities”. Drawn entirely in black and white, Idées Noires is much more adult-oriented than Franquin’s other works, focusing on themes such as death, war, pollution and capital punishment with a devastatingly sarcastic sense of humour.

Proof of his popular and critical appeal, Franquin was awarded the very first Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême in 1974. Many books by Franquin have been published, many of which are considered classics of the genre. They have been translated in many languages. Several books have been written about Franquin, such as Numa Sadoul‘s Et Franquin créa la gaffe, an exhaustive interview with the artist covering his entire career.

Franquin’s death in 1997 in Saint-Laurent-du-Var didn’t quite elicit the kind of worldwide posthumous homage Hergé received. However, 2004 saw the first major museum retrospective of his work, an exhibit called “Le monde de Franquin”‘, in Paris‘ Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie this exhibition was continued in 2006 in the city where he was born, Brussels, the latter was fully bilingual (French/Dutch). In 2005, a Walloon survey elected him as the “16th greatest Belgian ever”.


Franquin is, along with Hergé, one of the basic pillars of Franco-Belgian comics.[citation needed] Their styles, however, rest in opposite corners of the aesthetic spectrum: If the pictures of Tintin’s creator were characterized by the use of ligne claire, flat colors and a certain staticism, Franquin’s graphic approach progressively evolved towards a multi-color aesthetics, chiaroscuro and a vigorous sense of movement. Hergé expressed in several occasions his admiration for Franquin’s work: “Compared to him, I’m but a poor draftsman”.

Franquin was a prominent member of the first generation of the “Marcinelle School” (École de Marcinelle), also formed by Morris and Will, who would be joined during the 50s by the second generation including, among others, Peyo, Tillieux, Uderzo, and two subsequent generations joining during the 60s and 70-80s. Within this group, Franquin’s influence was uncontested, especially among the authors that continued the series Spirou et Fantasio after he left. Jean-Claude Fournier, Nic Broca and especially Janry (Jean-Richard Geurts) showed in this series graphic styles that tried to mimic with varying degrees of success the features of Franquin’s style.

Other Franco-Belgian authors that show Franquin’s influence were Dino Attanasio and Mittéï (Jean Mariette), both responsible for the series Modeste et Pompon after he left, Jidéhem (Jean De Mesmaeker), a usual collaborator of Franquin for Spirou et Fantasio and Gaston Lagaffe, Batem (Luc Collin), artist of the Marsupilami series, or Pierre Seron, who cloned Franquin’s style in his series Les Petites Hommes.

A most remarkable case is Franquin’s influence in Francisco Ibáñez, possibly the most widely published Spanish author since the 1950s. Starting in the 1970s, Ibáñez made an extensive use of ideas and designs from Franquin’s works, adapting them to his own universe, but also importing many graphic and narrative solutions. Even one of his characters, “El Botones Sacarino”, can be easily identified as a hybrid of Spirou (he is a bellboy) and Gaston Lagaffe (he works in a publishing company and is the source of never ending disasters), whom he resembles physically. Franquin’s shadow is even more obvious in the work of Ramón María Casanyes, a disciple and ghost collaborator of Ibáñez, especially in some of his solo Works such as the short-lived “Tito, Homo Sapiens 2000”, where the Franco-Belgian descent is unquestionable.

An essential author to understand the evolution of Franco-Belgian comics, Franquin is still a source of inspiration for contemporary artists such as Fabrice Tarrin, Yoann, or even outside the realm of comics in such iconoclastic cases as architect and cartoonist Klaus.



Series Years Albums Editor Remarks
Spirou et Fantasio 1946 – 19680 20 Dupuis0 with Jijé, Henri Gillain, Maurice Rosy, Will, Greg, Jidéhem, Jean Roba0
Modeste et Pompon0 1955–1959 3[a] Lombard with René Goscinny and Greg
Gaston Lagaffe 1957–1996 19[b] Dupuis and Marsu Productions with Yvan Delporte and Jidéhem
Le Petit Noël 1957–1959 1 Dupuis 4 volumes half-format editions
Idées noires 1977–1983 2 Fluide Glacial0 with Yvan Delporte and Jean Roba
Isabelle 1978–1986 5 Dupuis scenarios with Delporte and Macherot, art by Will
Marsupilami 1987–1989 3[c] Marsu Productions0 with Batem, Greg and Yann
  • a.   ^ The original collection. Some collections consist of four albums. The content is largely the same, however, where the gags have been spread out on thinner albums.
  • b.   ^ The Special Edition series, published in chronological order by Dupuis and Marsu Productions in connection with the series’ 40 year anniversary.
  • c.   ^ Except for the first three main albums in the series, Franquin was also the creator of No. 0 Capturez un Marsupilami, a collection of earlier short stories with the character.
  • For Spirou et Fantasio, Modeste et Pompon, Isabelle and Marsupilami, several new albums were published by other artists after Franquin left the series.


  • Cauchemarrant (1979, published by Bédérama)
  • Les robinsons du rail (1981, art by Franquin, text by Yvan Delporte; published by L’Atelier)
  • Les démêlés d’Arnest Ringard et d’Augraphie (1981, art by Frédéric Jannin, text by Franquin and Yvan Delporte)
  • L’Encyclopédie du Marsupilami (1991, illustrated faux encyclopedia about Marsupilami)
  • Arnest Ringard et Augraphie (2006, art by Frédéric Jannin, text by Franquin and Yvan Delporte; redrawn and extended version of the above)
  • Slowburn (1982, art by Franquin, text by Gotlib; published by Collectoropolis)
  • Les Tifous (1990, published by Dessis)
  • Le trombone illustré (2005, published by Marsu Productions)
  • Un monstre par semaine (2005, published by Marsu Productions)
  • Les noëls de Franquin (2006, art by Franquin, text by Yvan Delporte; published by Marsu Productions)


(published by Marsu Productions)

  • Les doodles de Franquin
  • Le bestiaire de Franquin
  • Le bestiaire de Franquin tome 2
  • Les monstres de Franquin
  • Les monstres de Franquin tome 2
  • Tronches à gogo
  • Les signatures de Franquin

Books about Franquin

  • Jacky Goupil, Livre d’or Franquin: Gaston, Spirou et les autres…
  • Numa Sadoul, Et Franquin créa la gaffe
  • Philippe Vandooren, Franquin/Jijé
  • Les cahiers de la BD #47-48
  • Le monde de Franquin (exhibition catalog)
  • Kris de Saeger, Dossier Franquin
  • Achim Schnurrer and Jef Meert, Archief Franquin
  • José-Louis Bocquet and Eric Verhoest, Franquin – Chronologie d’un œuvre
  • Xavier Chimits and Pedro Inigo Yanez, Le garage de Franquin



  1. ^ a b c d De Weyer, Geert (2005). “André Franquin”. In België gestript, pp. 113-115. Tielt: Lannoo.
  2. ^ “Une vie – 1946” (in French).
  3. ^ Le Lombard. “Franquin” (in French).

External links

v · d · eAndré Franquin
Spirou and Fantasio albums
Gaston Lagaffe albums
Marsupilami albums
Other albums
Delporte • Jidéhem • Greg • Goscinny • Roba
Publishing houses

(Jean-Claude) Fournier

Born Jean-Claude Fournier
May 21, 1943 (1943-05-21) (age 67)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Area(s) artist, writer
Notable works Spirou et Fantasio

Jean-Claude Fournier (born May 21, 1943, Paris),[1] known simply as Fournier, is a French cartoonist best known as the comic book artist who handled Spirou et Fantasio in the years 1969-1979.


[1 Biography


In 1965, Fournier approached André Franquin with drawings of his favourite characters, the cast of Spirou.[2] As Franquin sought a way to retire as Spirou creator, and devote himself to Gaston Lagaffe, he passed on Fournier’s work to Yvan Delporte, the editor of Spirou magazine. Fournier’s own creation Bizu was serialised in Spirou between 1967–69, until Fournier was finally chosen by Dupuis as Franquin’s successor. The first story was Le faiseur d’or which first appeared in Spirou on May 29, 1969.[3] Fournier added his personal poetic and environmentalistic mark to the saga.

In 1979, after nine feature stories, he decided to leave the project and devote himself to Bizu. Spirou et Fantasio was eventually continued by Nic & Cauvin, In 1998 Fournier launched Les Crannibales, a humouristic comics series based on scripts by Zidrou.


Tora Torapa (1973) by Fournier

  • Spirou et Fantasio, Dupuis
  • Bizu
    • 0. Bonjour Bizu (1982, Dupuis)
    • 1. Le signe d’Ys (1986, Fleurus)
    • 2. Le fils de Fa Dièse (1986, Fleurus)
    • 3. Le chevalier potage (1990, Dupuis)
    • 4. Le trio Jabadao (1991, Dupuis)
    • 5. La croisière fantôme (1992, Dupuis)
    • 6. La houle aux loups (1994, Dupuis)
  • Les Crannibales, Dupuis
    • 1. A table! (1998)
    • 2. On mange qui, ce soir? (1999)
    • 3. Pour qui sonne le gras? (1999)
    • 4. L’aile ou la cuisse? (2000)
    • 5. Crannibal pursuit (2001)
    • 6. Abracada…Miam! (2002)
    • 7. Crunch! (2003)
    • 8. Pêche au gros (2005)


  1. ^ De Weyer, Geert (2008) (in Dutch). 100 stripklassiekers die niet in je boekenkast mogen ontbreken. Amsterdam / Antwerp: Atlas. p. 214. ISBN 9789045009964
  2. ^ Lambiek Comiclopedia. “Jean-Claude Fournier”.
  3. ^ BDoubliées. “Spirou annee 1969” (in French).

External links

Name Fournier, Jean-Claude
Alternative names  
Short description  
Date of birth May 21, 1943
Place of birth Paris, France
Date of death  
Place of death  


Tome (Philippe Vandevelde)

Born Philippe Vandevelde
24 February 1957 (1957-02-24) (age 54)
Brussels, Belgium
Nationality Belgian
Area(s) writer
Notable works Soda
Spirou et Fantasio
Le Petit Spirou
Awards full list

Philippe Vandevelde, working under the pseudonym Tome (born 24 February 1957 in Brussels), is a comic strip script writer. He is known for collaborations with Janry on Spirou et Fantasio and Le Petit Spirou, and with Luc Warnant and later Bruno Gazzotti on Soda. More recently he has collaborated with Ralph Meyer on Berceuse assassine, and with Marc Hardy on Feux.


An operation left him blind for a short while at the age of eight. His first experiences of comics were of the Tintin story King Ottokar’s Sceptre and Corentin read aloud to him.[citation needed] Under the pseudonyms “Phil” and “Tom”, he published his first illustrations and comics for the school magazine Buck (made by Thierry Groensteen) from 1972 to 1974. His first comic was a medieval parody Estrel, le troubadour.

Tome began his professional comics career in the studio of Dupa, the author of Cubitus, where he met Janry who would become a long-time collaborator.[1] After assisting Turk and De Groot on series such as Léonard and Clifton, they began working at the comics magazine Spirou in 1979, their first assignment the games page Jeureka.

In 1980 they began work on their first Spirou et Fantasio adventure, the iconic forty-year-old series of Spirou.[1] Previously created by a succession of authors including the famous André Franquin, Tome and Janry were given the task in alternation with another creative team of Nic and Cauvin. Eventually assuming sole responsibility of the series, Tome and Janry continued creating stories until 1998, completing 14 albums, in addition to creating Le Petit Spirou, a series about Spirou‘s youth, for which they made 14 albums since 1990.


  • Spirou et Fantasio
  • Petit Spirou
  • Soda


– nominated for the Best Scenario Award and the Youth Award (9-12 years) at the Angoulême International Comics Festival
  • 2002: nominated for Best International Writer at the Max & Moritz Prizes



External links

Janry (Jean-Richard Geurts)

Born Jean-Richard Geurts
October 2, 1957 (1957-10-02) (age 53)
Jadotville, Zaire
Nationality Belgian
Area(s) artist
Notable works Le Petit Spirou
Spirou et Fantasio
Awards full list

Jean-Richard Geurts, perhaps better known under his pseudonym Janry (born October 2, 1957), is a comics artist. With Tome he created Le Petit Spirou and made several Spirou et Fantasio albums.


Born in Jadotville, currently Likasi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, he moved to Brussels, Belgium with his parents when he was ten years old, and went to school in Jodoigne.[1] His main hobby at the time was drawing, especially planes and other technological items.

In 1974, he took a comics course where he learned to draw figures, and where he met Vandevelde, of the same age and also studying in Jodoigne, although at a different college.

They became friends, and attended the same Art Academy in Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe studying the making of comics. There they met Stéphane De Becker, and the three together made comics, sharing the roles of author, artists, and colourist, but later they all would more or less specialize, with Janry mainly functioning as the artist.

After his studies, Janry began a professional career by becoming the assistant of Francis for the series Ford T, and later assisted Dupa for Cubitus. During this period, he also collaborated with Greg and with Turk and Bob de Groot.[1]

Together with Tome, he started working for Spirou, where they created the games page Eureka!, signing as J.R. and PH. They later changed their pseudonyms to Tome (for Philippe Vandevelde, who used Tom from a very early age) and Janry (from Jean-Richard). This was intended as a pun on Tom and Jerry.

In 1981, they started working with the adventures of Spirou et Fantasio. This is the title series of Spirou magazine, in continuous production since 1938 by a succession of authors, most famously André Franquin. The last of those, Jean-Claude Fournier, had left the series at the end of the 1970s, and the magazine was looking for a solution to get the series back in production. Three teams started making stories, but after a few years only Tome and Janry remained. For them, it was a childhood dream, and they showed their first two pilot pages to Franquin to get some advice.[1] They continued making stories until 1998, when after 14 albums they ended their run.

However, in 1988, they began the project Le Petit Spirou, a spin-off telling stories from Spirou’s youth, predominantly in the 1 page format. Since then, they have published 12 albums of this series. After a few years, the series reached a circulation of 500,000 copies for each new album, thus becoming more successful than the original series.[1]

Janry now functions as artist, and Tome as author of the stories, with Stéphane De Becker as colourist.




  1. ^ a b c d De Weyer, Geert (2005). “Janry”. In België gestript, pp. 131-132. Tielt: Lannoo.

External links