Barracks Life With Le Sergent Laterreur

« Le sergent Laterreur resembles no-one. It’s impossible for anyone to be so ignoble, so sinister, so cruel. One feels that the two poor bastards that created him are exacting their revenge for all the humiliations suffered at the hands of the strong. One wouldn’t have been surprised to discover that the authors of Sergent Laterreur were Jewish, Black, Irish or Czech. They’re Belgian. » — Georges Wolinski

“Le Sergent Laterreur” is a strip that ran in the fabled bédé weekly Pilote from February 1971 to December 1973.

This vitriolic lampoon of military life (no Beetle Bailey this) was the brainchild of Belgians Touïs ( Vivian Miessen, b. 1940) and Gérald Frydman (b. 1942).

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Pilote no. 590 (February 21, 1971, Dargaud), the Sergent’s third appearance in the magazine and his first (of two) on the cover.

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Episode 4: Flower Power

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Episode 15: « Et tu retourneras les poussières ». The Sergent’s immortal maxim: « Don’t forget that dirt is our worst enemy! »

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Episode 80: Les mots historiques. Laterreur thought the enemy was bluffing.

Miessen produced a few more comics during the 70s, and made a notable comeback contribution to L’Association‘s massive anthology Comix 2000, but he chiefly worked in animation. Frydman mostly pursued projects in photography and film, directing several short subjects.

Laterreur’s full effect is best experienced in massive doses, and L’Association, fully cognizant of that fact, issued a splendid Le Sergent Laterreur omnibus in 2006. An obscure creation, it remains obscure, but at least it’s available if you seek it out.

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Episode 85: Du gâteau. A fitting way for a dotty old general to blow out his birthday candles.

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The finale, Episode 108: Tapage nocturne. Now you know how it goes down, so to speak.

Fun factoid: The strip’s name presumably comes from the French title of a USA “boot camp” Korean War propaganda film from 1953, “Take the High Ground!“, directed by Richard Brooks. and starring Richard Widmark and Karl Malden.

– RG

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