André Franquin


André Franquin

Infobox Comics creator
name = Franquin



imagesize =
caption =
birthname =
birthdate = birth date|1924|1|3|mf=y
location = Brussels, Belgium
deathdate = death date and age|1997|1|5|1924|1|3
deathplace = Saint-Laurent-du-Var, France
nationality = Belgian
area = artist, writer
alias =
notable works = "Spirou et Fantasio" "Gaston Lagaffe" "Idées noires"
awards = full list

André Franquin (January 3, 1924 – January 5, 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.

Biography

Franquin's beginnings

Franquin was born in Etterbeek in 1924.De Weyer, Geert (2005). "André Franquin". In België gestript, pp. 113-115. Tielt: Lannoo.] 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. 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 the small town 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 June 20, 1946, the young Franquin held creative responsibility of the series.cite web | last =franquin.com | title =Une vie - 1946 | url =http://www.franquin.com/bio/1946.php|language=French] 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.

The making of a master

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.

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 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.

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 Lagaffe" 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 once 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 Lagaffe" gradually evolved from pure slapstick humor to feature themes important to Franquin, such as pacifism and environmentalism. Franquin worked on the strip 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 cartoonistCite web|last=Le Lombard|title=Franquin|url=http://www.lombard.be/catalogue/Auteurs.cfm?Query_ID=142612|language=French] ), 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". 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, a good number 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".

Bibliography

eries

1Refers to 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.

2Refers to the Special Edition, published in chronological order by Dupuis and Marsu Productions in connection wtith the series' 40 year anniversary.

3Except for the first three main albums in the series, Franquin was also involved in No. 0 "Capturez un Marsupilami", a collection of earlier short stories with the character. Most of this album had earlier been published in a largely corresponding edition for the Scandinavian market.

(For "Spirou et Fantasio", "Modeste et Pompon", "Isabelle" and "Marsupilami", several new albums were published by other artists after Franquin left the series.)

One-shots

*"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)

ketchbooks

(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"

Awards

* 1974: First Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême, France
* 1980: Adamson Award, Sweden
* 1985: Best Long Comic Strip at the Haxtur Awards, Spain, for "QRN sur Bretzelburg"
* 1987: Grand Prix for the Graphic Arts at the Angoulême International Comics Festival
* 1996: Special Prize for outstanding life’s work at the Max & Moritz Prizes in Erlangen, Germany

ources

* [http://bdoubliees.com/journalspirou/auteurs2/franquin.htm Franquin publications in "Spirou"] BDoubliées fr_icon;Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.franquin.com/ Franquin official site] fr_icon
* [http://www.gastonlagaffe.com/ Gaston Lagaffe official site] fr_icon
* [http://www.dupuis.com/servlet/jpecat?pgm=VIEW_AUTHOR&lang=UK&AUTEUR_ID=85 Biography on Dupuis.com]
* [http://lambiek.net/artists/f/franquin_andre.htm Franquin biography] on Lambiek Comiclopedia
* [http://www.stripspeciaalzaak.be/Toppers_Franquin_EN.htm SSZ: The World "Around" Franquin] comics creators discuss Franquin fr_icon nl_icon
* [http://www.lemondedefranquin.com/fr/index.php?pg=doss Le Monde de Franquin Expo, Franquin dossier] pdf downloads fr_icon


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