In my ceaseless quest for tentacles, once in a while, I return to a previous theme – in this case, the Franco-Belgian tradition of comics. To start at the beginning, visit Tentacle Tuesday, Franco-Belgian edition parts 1 and 2, and Tentacle Tuesday: Tentacules à la mode.
We start some 70-some years ago, with an issue of Bob et Bobette, a Belgian feature created by Willy Vandersteen in 1945. Well, to be more precise, the latter created Suske en Wiske — when the strip became popular in its native De Standaard (a Flemish daily newspaper), it was picked up by Tintin magazine, after Vandersteen agreed to modify it somewhat according to Hergé (who was the magazine’s artistic director) and his Ligne claire guidelines. The main characters were renamed – far from the last time that happened: in Britain, they were known as Spike and Suzy, and as Willy and Wanda in the United States.
I’ve never read a whole album of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, though I like its premise (an intrepid, independent héroïne? yes, please) and Jacques Tardi‘s art (depending; sometimes I love it, sometimes I’m indifferent, but it’s certainly good enough for purposes of following a story). Chalk it down to something I never got around to, I guess. Irritatingly, in 2010 we have been *ahem* ‘blessed’ with a movie based on this comic, directed by the ever sharp-witted Luc Besson (who royally fucked up a movie adaptation of Valérian et Laureline in 2017, so he seems to be making this into a specialty).
I mentioned the comics magazine Le journal Tintin earlier – here’s a cover from its competitor, Spirou (Le journal de Spirou), published by Éditions Dupuis since 1938. The respective publishers (Raymond Leblanc for Tintin, and Charles Dupuis for Spirou) of these magazines had a gentleman’s agreement: an artist’s work could only be published in one or the other, never both. Incidentally, there was an interesting exception in the case of André Franquin, who moved his wares from Spirou to Tintin after a quarrel with its editor – and, contractually obligated to work for Tintin for five years, simultaneously continued to provide Spirou with stories.
Valentin le vagabond was created by René Goscinny et Jean Tabary in 1962 for publication in Pilote. After 1963, Tabary carried on alone, scripting and illustrating all by his lonesome, Goscinny having his hands full with other projects. Valentin le vagabond et les hippies is the final story of this series, originally serialised in issues 709 to 719 in 1973.
The French are surely not immune from scatological humour. The Kaca fairy (I’ll give you three guesses for what “kaca” means in French) is a rather inept witch. She accidentally conjures up an octopus who’s a little too intent on being liked, and the rest of the comic deals with the attempts to whisk him away again.