Spirou and Fantasio… reporters and adventurers

Published On May 22, 2012 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Spirou & Fantasio: Running Scared

Written by Philippe Vandevelde (Tome), illustrated by Jean-Richard Geurts (Janry)


Spirou and Fantasio are hired by a doctor to escort some of his patients. Their ailment? An apparently incurable case of the hiccups. His solution: Send them on the most insane adventure ever and scare the hiccups out of them! Since he offers to pay for their expedition, the two fearless reporters agree to take the patients with them as they attempt to locate two explorers lost in 1938 near the Nepalese border… in the middle of a war!

Volume 2 – Spirou & Fantasio In New York really impressed, with the timing, the slapstick, the carefully constructed wordplay, the background visual gags all leading me to a conclusion that my eventual comparisons to classic Asterix and Tintin were warranted, not with the art necessarily, but with the same manic intensity of Asterix, and the travel and adventuring of Tintin (albeit with far more gags).

I hadn’t realised, before a quick internet search, that Tome and Janry’s take on the characters was merely the 80s version, with the title stretching back to the 40s. From a very quick overview, it seems Cinebook’s decision to reprint starting with Tome & Janry’s work is a smart one, with this version being arguably the best.

This is a good, rip-roaring adventure, just not up there with Volume 2, this convoluted tale of Spirou and Fantasio taking a group of hiccuping patients into Nepal to get their conditions cured through the shock of adventuring. Yeah, weird, but it’s simply a background to hang some impressive and funny set-pieces from, and as such it matters not one bit.

And early on, even tough the sum total of the book was a little under par, the setpieces certainly impressed, with Tome’s spirited, exuberant action sequences matched by Janry’s lovely artwork, never better represented by this page….

I do love the excitement, action, and sheer exuberance that’s delivered there, and there’s similar several times throughout, a great deal of adventuring going on, worthy of a certain boy reporter…. In fact, if you needed any more proof of the adventuring link with Herge’s creation, how about this, where Spirou and Fantasio meet their guide, one familiar it seems with a certain “young foreigner with little white dog” looking for Yetis, who even seems to have picked up a few choice expressions from a certain Captain:

Volume 3, although good, felt a little flat in comparison to the tight, very funny work of Volume 2. Much of that is down to this storyline splitting across this and the next Volume, more length means less enjoyment here, with the gags and action not coming as thick and fast perhaps, and the tight, funny storyline seems looser and consequently less funny, less complete.

So although it might not be as great as the standalone US trip of Volume 2, this certainly has the action, adventure, and laughs, just not as tightly done.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

3 Responses to Spirou and Fantasio… reporters and adventurers

  1. Iggipop says:

    “this version being arguably the best…”
    What???? HAHAHAHAHAHA!!
    Try again. This version is fun but did you ever heard the name FRANQUIN?
    On your knees. Franquin is a god, one of the best cartoonists ever, equal to Herge, and his Spirou is “the Spirou”. Anyone writing or drawing Spirou after him is just following him and trying to keep the level.

    • Richard says:

      Hmmm… I did say arguably….?
      Actually, re-reading it, that’s a little sloppy on my part… more like “given that I have no real reference and am enjoying these adventures… ”
      It’s far too blanket a statement – hopefully cinebook will look to reprint more of the early works so I can compare.

  2. Martin Wisse says:

    Tome and Janry are quite good as well though and probably slightly easier to get into for a modern audience.

    One of the things I love about Franquin, his incredible sense of time and place might actually work against him now, as it is so clear his stories are largely set in fifties and sixties Belgium which might come across as a bit dated.

    Incidently, when Fantasio points at that group of layabouts, the mysterious guy in the hat, scarf, glasses and pipe is of course monsieur Dupuis himself, the publisher of Spirou…