René Goscinny is without a doubt one of the absolute giants of Eurocomics. He was the writer of two of the best known series (Astérix and Lucky Luke), but also one of the founders of the seminal magazine Pilote, the first French comics magazine to aim at a more adolescent audience.
Goscinny was also well-known as the writer of the short story series Le Petit Nicolas, chronicling the adventures of a quite excitable young boy in a French city, his family and his school mates. Much of the appeal of these stories was thanks to the hilarious illustrations provided by then upcoming artist Jean-Jacques Sempé, who later became world-famous, amongst others with his work for the New Yorker.
What is less well-known (or, at least, I didn’t know, at any rate), is that the series started as a comic strip in the magazine Le Moustique from 1956 to 1958, until Sempé got tired of the limiting form of the strip. When he started working for the regional newspaper, Sud-Ouest, Sempé was asked to create a feature for younger readers. He remembered the stories he did with Goscinny, and asked his friend to provide him with new stories, but in long-form to which he could provide illustrations. And a veritable hit series was born, with fourteen collections, an animated series and two feature films.
Going back to the humble roots of Le Petit Nicolas (and totally fitting in the current trend of curating classic, out-of-print titles), French publisher IMAV (who only publish Goscinny-related material) have announced a fully restored collection of all Moustique strips. The book will be published in October as a traditional (hard-cover) album, and will cost some 13 euros. Now there’s a book that will probably interest an international market of nostalgia buffs…
(based on reporting by actuabd.com)