Tentacle Tuesday, Franco-Belgian Edition

Today’s Tentacle Tuesday comes to us courtesy of France and its long-suffering neighbour, Belgium. There’s an easy joke one could make about the reputation Frenchmen possess of having hands like grabby tentacles, but instead I’ll concentrate on their wonderful comic writers and artists and the classic bande dessinée. Let’s gracefully step over all the obscene connotations of a “French edition” and delve into exhibit A:

“So that’s it, your real face?” asks the old man. “What were you expecting?” asks the emerald-eyed cephalopod.  This is a page from Les chercheurs de trésor, volume 2: La ville froide, David B. (2004, Dargaud).

David B. is the nom de plume of Pierre-François David Beauchard. Non-Francophone audiences might know him from Epileptic, an autobiographical graphic novel that won accolades and awards from an international audience. And yet it’s not his most interesting œuvre, as far as I’m concerned. Although Epileptic is full of imagery and allegories, it’s when David B. lets his imagination soar without the constraints of real life that he creates his most dazzling worlds and astonishing stories. He’s one of those rare comic artists whose art is as accomplished as their storytelling.

Here’s a bonus “tentacle” from Monsieur B.:

La lecture des ruines was published by Dupuis in 2001. (It loosely translates to “reading the ruins”, “study of the wreckage”.) It’s the story of a mad scholar who tries to find a mathematical equation for violence in the decayed rubble that war has left behind. Excerpted material from an imaginary periodical is appended, Les incidents de la nuit (Incidents of the Night). This tentacled worm – Le Grand Ver, the Great Worm – is one of the creatures that lurk within…

Give a hand of applause, ladies and gentlemen, to David B., and let’s move to our next topic.

“Sorti des abîmes” translates to something like “Risen from the abyss” – and what sort of thing rises from an abyss? Why, tentacles, of course!

Tif et Tondu: Sorti des abîmes (1972)

Tif and Tondu, an intrepid team of private investigators, were originally created by Fernand Dineur, but their most popular incarnation is by writer Maurice Tillieux and artist Willy Maltaite (who mostly went by the nickname Will), which is what you’re currently admiring. The strip saw birth in 1938 in journal Spirou and lasted a whopping number of years, ending in 1997, one year short of its 60th birthday.

Things are a bit tricky with the numbering, because Tif et Tondu are popular enough to have been anthologized several times. Sorti des abîmes appeared as the series’ 19th entry (1972), after being serialized in Spirou no. 1746 (September, 1971) to no. 1764 (February, 1972).

A closer look at the creature from the abyss: not exactly an octopus, but in distinct possession of tentacles. “Armed and dangerous”, as they say! The poor thing is dissolved at the end of the story by some infrared rays.

Incidentally, “Tif” is slang for hair in French, and “Tondu” means “shaven, sheared”. Naturally, Tif is the bald guy, and Tondu is the hairy one.

Now that we’ve had our fill of scary, destructive tentacles, I’ll move on to something friendlier.

Pif Poche no.72 (Aug. 1971) The last panel says “Paws off… Don’t touch! You’ve got cold hands!”
Pif Poche no.72 (Aug. 1971) “This creature is starting to annoy me with its tickling!”

Pif the dog was the mascot of the kid’s magazine Pif Gadget (« gadget » referred to the fact that each issue of the magazine was accompanied by some thingamabob to amuse the youngsters). Pif Poche were pocket-sized collections of short Pif strips, as well as jokes, games and such. The character was created by José Cabrero Arnal in 1948, who gradually abandoned the strip by the 1960s while other artists took over.

 Pif Poche no.72 (Aug. 1971) “Even in a can… I adore seafood! Ripoff… it’s octopus!” Story and art by Arnal’s immediate and worthiest successor, the prolific Roger Mas (1924-2010)

~ ds

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