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Tristan is a historical French comic book series, created by Jacques Martin with drawings of Jean Pleyers. The series first appeared in 1978 under the French title Jhen.
The series was first published in English under the name Xan in 1978 but was later renamed in Tristan. The series is published by Casterman Publishing House.
At the end of the hundred years ‘ war (first half 15th century), the main character Tristan,a master sculptor, experiences all kinds of adventures. Mainly in France but also some stories are situated in England and Italy. He is friends with Gilles de Rais, “Marshal of France ‘ and notorious for his child rapes and murders. This is also a reflexive theme in the stories,  just as Alchemy, magic, satan, abuse of power of the Church, etc. Also other historical figures such as Charles VII of France and dauphin Louis XI of France appear in the stories.

Jacques Martin


Born 25 September 1921(1921-09-25)
Strasbourg, France
Died 21 January 2010(2010-01-21) (aged 88)
Brussels, Belgium
Nationality French
Area(s) Cartoonist, Writer, Penciller
Pseudonym(s) Jam, Marleb
Notable works Alix

Jacques Martin (25 September 1921 – 21 January 2010) was a French comics artist and comic book creator. He was one of the classic artists of Le Journal de Tintin magazine, alongside Edgar P. Jacobs and Hergé, of whom he was a longtime collaborator. He is best known for his series Alix. He was born in Strasbourg.


After being initially forced into engineering studies as a young man, Jacques Martin began in 1942 to draw his first comic stories. In 1946, following the end of the War, he travelled through Belgium in search of an editor for his work. Soon afterwards he met Georges Remi (aka Hergé) with whom he collaborated on several albums of The Adventures of Tintin (and more specifically on Tintin in Tibet and The Red Sea Sharks) while working on his own albums. It was from Hergé that he learned of the ligne claire style and, under Hergé’s guidance, began to use it in his own work. He would later be considered one of the great five of the ligne claire style, along with Hergé, Edgar P. Jacobs, Bob de Moor and Willy Vandersteen.[1]

In 1948, he created Alix, his most famous series, published in the magazine Tintin, whose adventures – extremely well researched – occur in Roman antiquity. This historic comic soon became one of the most popular of the genre and went on to be published in several countries worldwide.

The story Le spectre de Carthage won the award for best French realistic comic book at the 1978 Angoulême International Comics Festival.

Martin went on to create other characters, beginning with the contemporary journalist Lefranc in 1952. Much later he created others in collaboration with various partners, namely the medieval architect Jhen (initially entitled Xan) in 1978, the French revolutionary officer Arno in 1984, the Athenian Orion in 1990, and the Egyptian Keos in 1992.[2] In 2003, he also started a new series – Loïs set in the court of Louis the sun king of France.

In 1998, due to failing eyesight, Martin left the drawing of Alix to Rafael Morales.[2] Alix continues running with great success. Martin died on 21 January 2010.[3]



External links

Jean Pleyers

(b. 27/6/1943, Belgium)

Xan comic strip, by Jean Pleyers
Xan: L’Or de la Mort (1984)

After his studies at the Institute Saint-Luc in Liège, Jean Pleyers became the assistant of Gérald Forton in 1966 and worked on the series ‘Teddy Ted’ in Pif Gadget and ‘Tiger Joe’ in La Libre Belgique Junior (script by André-Paul Duchâteau). Next, Pleyers created some short stories for Le Soir Jeunesse and some ‘Belles Histoires de l’Oncle Paul’ stories for Spirou. In 1971, he assisted Cuvelier on the ‘Line’ episode ‘La Caravane de la Colère’ and made comic adaptation of about a dozen novels for Artima.

Xan: Jehanne de France, by Jean Pleyers (1985)
Xan: Jehanne de France (1985)

In the following three years, while living in The Little Antilles, he drew ‘Pat Le Guadeloupéen’. Back in Belgium, he started working with Jacques Martin, whom he assisted on ‘Alix’ and with whom he created the science-fiction series ‘Xan’ (later retitled to ‘Jhen’) in 1978. Pleyers has drawn ‘Jhen’ until 2000, when he was succeeded by Bernard Capo.

Jhen: L'Archange, by Jean Pleyers (2000)
Jhen: L’Archange (2000)

In 1981, he additionally drew ‘Les Êtres de Lumière’ in Métal Hurlant. In 1992, he began another series with Martin, ‘Kéos’. In 1996 he created the historical comic series ‘Giovani’ for Casterman, for which he does both art and scriptwork.

Tristan, by Jean Pleyers
Tristan, by Jean Pleyers