From Our Continental Correspondent – seven decades of Spirou
The House of Comics (La Maison de La Bande Dessinée) in Brussels has whipped together a nice little exhibition on seventy years of the fabled Spirou Magazine, one of the three journals (together with Tintin and the later Pilote) that were instrumental in the birth and growth of the Franco-Belgian comic tradition.
Spirou was launched by Jean Dupuis as a children’s magazine, and named after the (then) new comics hero Spirou, a young bell-hop whose name refers to dynamism and resourcefulness. He was designed by the French artist Rob-Vel, and was later developed by Jijé, Franquin, Fournier and many others.
(cover to the first issue of Spirou, published April 1938)
It’s a bit sad that what the “official” comics museum failed to do, this private operation pulls off: a good overview of the rich history of Spirou with loads of original work, quite often including work never seen before in public.
These originals mainly were used as covers for the magazine, or for the related albums that were published by Dupuis, for magazine illustrations, posters or publicity material. Just a quick list of some of the names involved : Berck, Bercovici, Berthet, Chaland, Deliège, Derib, Devos, Fournier, Francq, Franquin, Gazzotti, Hausman, Hermann, Hislaire, Hubinon, Janry, Jidéhem, Jijé, Lambil, Le Gall, Leloup, Macherot, Malik, MiTacq, Mittéï, Morris, Paape, Peyo, Piroton, Remacle, Roba, Rob-Vel (the original creator of the bell-hop character that would later develop into Spirou), Salvérius, Seron, Sirius, Tillieux, Tome, Walthéry, Wasterlain, Will et Wozniak (with thanks to Actua BD for some of the details).
The magazine itself may be old, it’s far from dead yet! Picking up a tradition that was abandoned a while ago, it announced that from this week on the magazine would include small booklets from time to time (the so called petits récits). First in line is none other than French comic god Lewis Trondheim! The “Exposition Coup de chapeau au Journal Spirou” event runs until September 7th; for more details check out the official Spirou website.
Wim Lockefeer lives in Belgium and when not thinking about the benefits of their fine waffles writes extensively on comics culture; you can read more of his work on his own Ephemerist blog.