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Quoi, moi me préoccuper?
October 29, 2009 2:28 PM   Subscribe

In 1948, in the aftermath of the Second World War, with Europe still in ruins, three young Belgian comic strip artists, Joseph Gillain (aka Jijé), Maurice de Bevere (aka Morris) and André Franquin, crossed the Atlantic with the intention of settling in the US. All three would eventually return to Belgium, their hopes of working for Disney ultimately dashed by the turmoil of the McCarthy years. However, in the meantime they made the acquaintance of their colleagues of the Charles William Harvey Studio in New York, including a cosmopolitan young wit named René Goscinny.

Goscinny would follow them back to Europe, and eventually found Pilote magazine with Jijé and Franquin. He also collaborated with Morris as writer for "Lucky Luke". Of course, his most famous work was "Astérix", such a symbol for the resurgent France of the postwar era that even the first French satellite was named after him. Another French icon created by Goscinny was "Le Petit Nicolas", a series of good-humoured stories about a schoolboy whose gentle humour has had a lasting impact in French culture, best seen in films like "Amélie".
And what did the remaining artists of the Charles William Harvey Studio do? Well, they coped.
posted by Skeptic (37 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like this post. The first sentence I ever read was a Jolly Jumper line in a Lucky Luke book. I ran to my parents to show off and let them know I didn't need anybody to read books to me anymore.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 2:32 PM on October 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is a great FPP. It will not digress into McCarthy/hurfdurf bashing. [/crossing fingers]
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:34 PM on October 29, 2009


Oh, and there's a Petit Nicolas movie out that is sooooo cute and funny. Hope it makes it to the US.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 2:34 PM on October 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yay, Asterix! Today's google doodle on the .ca domain is a nod to the 50th anniversary of that great series.
posted by Zinger at 2:37 PM on October 29, 2009


wow, that's an awesome bit of movie there Lucia! thanks for bringing it up.
posted by Fraxas at 2:38 PM on October 29, 2009


I'm a massive Franquin fan and had no idea he was in the states. Thanks for this post, savoring each link like it's a wrapped expensive chocolate.
posted by dabitch at 2:56 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


And, of course, Goscinny's collaborator on Le Petit Nicolas was Jean-Jacques Sempe.
Familiar even to Americans from all the New Yorker covers.

Great post, Skeptic.
posted by vacapinta at 3:12 PM on October 29, 2009


This is a great post. I really don't know jack about Asterix or Goscinny, but the Kurtzman and Elder connections kinda blew my mind. I never would have guessed.
posted by marxchivist at 3:40 PM on October 29, 2009


I used to spend ages sitting in the library in Sweden, reading all these great comics that I never saw in the states. In addition to Lucky Luke and Asterix, and of course Tintin, who'd actually made it over here, there was Spirou (with Marsupilami, who mysteriously later appeared in the US without his owner), Gaston, Johan, Lotta & Jocko (another series by Herge), Valhalla, Eva & Adam, another series which featured a villain with hair in the shape of a mushroom cloud...

I remember realizing that I would prefer some of the stories over others in the same series based on whose name appeared on the cover. Franquin is familiar-- but I can't remember if I went looking for his issues of Spirou, or tried to avoid them.
posted by alexei at 3:40 PM on October 29, 2009


Ohh, Lucky Luke. You were so funny and suave, and yet so sad as you and Jolly Jumper rode off into the sunset all alone. I miss you - and even your iconic cigarette too...
posted by gemmy at 3:44 PM on October 29, 2009


alexei, Franquin was in charge of Spirou (it has had quite a few authors since the 30s) for several decades. He created the Marsupilami, and Gaston too...
posted by Skeptic at 3:48 PM on October 29, 2009


And I thought Asterix was what you put on a steroid-aided sports record...
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 3:48 PM on October 29, 2009


Franquin is the greatest comic book artist of all time. Of all time! I spent endless hours of my childhood copying the later Gaston albums and Idées Noires.

Excellent post.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:50 PM on October 29, 2009


Never would have guessed Asterix and MAD magazine had a common ancestry.
posted by PenDevil at 4:06 PM on October 29, 2009


evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight: And I thought Asterix was what you put on a steroid-aided sports record...

The guy does chug crazy amounts of performance enhancing potion.
posted by Kattullus at 4:47 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dumsnill: Franquin is the greatest comic book artist of all time. Of all time! I spent endless hours of my childhood copying the later Gaston albums and Idées Noires.

Incredible artist, it's true, though Don Rosa at least comes close.

Goscinny is also one of the great comedians of the 20th Century. Certainly none better in comics.
posted by Kattullus at 4:49 PM on October 29, 2009


Huge Franquin fan here, have all the Gaston albums and the Ideés Noires. I had absolutely no idea that the giants of BD had spent time rubbing elbows with the usual crew of madmen.

Every now and then Fantagraphics toys with a Gaston translation, although it's been quite some time since I have heard of anything on that front. It's really a shame the material hasn't left French; it is some of the funniest cartooning anyone has ever done.
posted by mwhybark at 5:01 PM on October 29, 2009


On reflection, Le Petit Nicolas is another gem of world humor, and I am thrilled to learn it is available in English. There is no more enjoyable way to learn French than by reading those books. Also you may learn fewer grammatical errors than if you are treating the inimitable Gaston LaGaffe as your professeur.
posted by mwhybark at 5:06 PM on October 29, 2009


Incidentally can anyone tell me how you actually pronounce Goscinny? I've never heard it spoken and don't know whether it's a hard or soft c.
posted by Zinger at 5:30 PM on October 29, 2009


Ironically perhaps, Asterix in Britain was a particular challenge to translate because one of the joys of the original was the way in which Goscinny captured the British characters speaking French with a dreadful English accent. It is also a favourite of Uderzo.

"While I like all that we have made, I have a little preference for Asterix et Les Bretons, for the way that René made the British speak with the structure of the English language transformed into French. I found it an extraordinary idea," he says. "For René, who knew English perfectly, it was like a child's game".

Bell, who always ran her scripts past Goscinny when he was alive, was relieved to find that her translation solution – to use very dated, stilted, 'upper class twit' language in the style of PG Wodehouse – met with the French writer's approval. "I told him that we were intending to use phrases like 'what ho, old bean!' and 'hullo, old fruit' and his eyes lit up," she said. "'Vieux fruit! I wish I'd thought of that…' he murmured."
- Asterix and the golden jubilee

Soft c, Zinger. You can hear it pronounced here
posted by Kattullus at 5:35 PM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is an awesome post, thanks Skeptic! As for Lucky Luke, there's a new live action film (warning: flash trailer and browser resizing at the link!) which is about to be released and it looks awesome!
posted by ooga_booga at 5:56 PM on October 29, 2009


I always thought it was a shame that the Romans never just tried to set the village and surrounding woodland on fire.
The potion would have been useless against a raging wall of fire.
posted by Flashman at 6:08 PM on October 29, 2009


Yeah, Don Rosa is good, but come on.

Also, there are problems in the Uderzo family.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:37 PM on October 29, 2009


On se calme, on se calme.

What a fantastic post! These are all the authors of my childhood.

I'd like to add Greg (Michel Regnier) most famous for Achille Talon and the man responsible for adding "Bof" to my list of shrugged responses.
posted by furtive at 6:38 PM on October 29, 2009


The i>Nicolas books are available in English on Amazon (I have Nicholas and Nicholas Again). They are incredibly charming and funny. Highly recommended.
posted by ancientgower at 6:54 PM on October 29, 2009


A Petit Nicolas chapter book is one of the things we read in class for 11th grade French. I got my copy from my damn brother as a hand-me-down, complete with his own jaded dialogue written onto the pictures.

One day my teacher, who also happened to be our cross-country coach, didn't have her book so she asked for mine. I said, sure and looked onto the copy of my neighbors. Halfway through class she gave me a weird look.

Only after class did I realize what had happened. Next to a picture of Nicolas running through the desks of a classroom, my brother had scribbled a balloon coming out of his mouth: "Let's go rape the teacher!"

I struggled for a C from that point on.
posted by machim at 7:10 PM on October 29, 2009


Yeah, Don Rosa is good, but come on.


The correct order is: Carl Barks, Don Rosa, everybody else.
posted by signal at 8:19 PM on October 29, 2009


When I was a kid in England there was a time when I was fairly obsessed with Asterix and the gang (Obelix, Getafix, Cacophonix....ah, the wordplay!) and not only did I get a rather interesting lesson on European history, but I shaved YEARS off the timeline to learn traditional European stereotypes.

Also provided a giggle when I stated to learn Latin.
posted by Dagobert at 12:34 AM on October 30, 2009


Also you may learn fewer grammatical errors than if you are treating the inimitable Gaston LaGaffe as your professeur.

Well, I would call Gaston many things, starting with "genial", but "inimitable" is perhaps the wrong word, considering that Franquin was indeed shamelessly ripped off by Spanish artist Ibáñez in his "Sacarino" series...
posted by Skeptic at 4:50 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Zinger: Incidentally can anyone tell me how you actually pronounce Goscinny?

Go see nee.
posted by bru at 6:15 AM on October 30, 2009


kattulus, bru - thanks!
posted by Zinger at 12:47 PM on October 30, 2009


I would comment, but I've been bound, gagged, strung up in a tree and forbidden to sing.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:08 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Would love to see a FPP about Ibáñez and his work. Was always a big fan of Mortadelo y Filemón.
posted by msittig at 7:16 AM on October 31, 2009


Gaston (Guust Flater) is my hero!
posted by RobHoi at 5:49 PM on October 31, 2009


(inane piece of) trivia: after Harvey (Kurtzman, from the Charles William Harvey Studio) left MAD, he went on to found Help!, where he hired as an assistant a 20-something Terry Gilliam who just there came across a certain John Cleese, who was then performing in Broadway and working for the magazine as a fumetti model.
posted by _dario at 8:16 PM on October 31, 2009


- Asterix and the golden jubilee

That's an interesting piece of info. I'd check how the Greek translation was treated, but it's the only issue (together with the Bretons one) that I never owned.
posted by ersatz at 9:20 AM on November 1, 2009


I met André Franquin once. It was one of only three times I became a nervous and babbling wreck when I met someone (the other times were when I met Albert Uderzo and Harvey Kurtzman). I therefore vote this post of the year.
posted by ninthart at 10:07 AM on November 1, 2009


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