In 2018 France and Belgium will celebrate a remarkable eighty years of Spirou. Spir-who? Spirou, created in 1938 by Rob-Vel for Dupuis, would become one of the two seminal characters of Franco- Belgian comics, and not just because he, like Tintin, gave his name to one of the quintessential comics magazine of the second half of the 20th century, a jumping off point for many creators. A number of great creators, including Jijé, André Franquin, Tome et Janry and even Yves Chaland have contributed titles to the adventures of the groom and his trusted companion, Fantasio.
There have been, quite successful, side projects, such as the Le Spirou De series, which enabled alternative and otherwise “hip” cartoonists to take Spirou out of his normal setting and continuity, and have their wicked way with him. Needless to say, these books, by people like Lewis Trondheim, Emile Bravo or Zidrou were quite often more interesting than the regular series.
And now, in 2018, Dupuis is upping the ante even more. In addition to more books in the various series, and a great collected edition (with reconstructed pages), no less than two films will be released to the general public. And Spirou will be the second Franco-Belgian comic character to get his own theme park, after Astérix.
The first film will be released in the fall of 2017 and is based on the Tome & Janry series, Le Petit Spirou, a series of knockabout humorous comics, celebrating the antics of a young Spirou and his family, school mates, teachers and vicars. The humor is not always that sophisticated, but the books have speed and panache, and they’re always good for a laugh. And judging from the trailer, the people behind the Petit Spirou film seem to have understood what makes the books special.
Spirou Et Fantasio, which will be released in February 2018, is currently shrouded in secrecy. Only a few visuals have been released of the two titular heroes, and they were not really met with much of a favorable reaction. While in the books, Fantasio is much taller than Spirou, in the film this will be vice versa. Additionally, the visual directors have opted for a “natural” look instead of recreating the characters’ likenesses with makeup, which in turn does not help in terms of identification. At least they seem to have gotten Spirou’s car, the legendary Turbot, right…
The big reveal is left for June 2018, when in the French town of Monteux (near Avignon), the official Parc Spirou will be opened, with rides and theme zones based on the groom’s adventures, along with other heroes from the Dupuis stable, such as Lucky Luke, Gaston and of course the Marsupilami. New attractions are planned all through to 2022, for a total of 25. The park will also include a cinema with 750 seats and a permanent museum about Spirou’s history. The park expects a cool million visitors every year (by comparison, Parc Astérix is aiming at 2 million this year).