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Celebrating 75 Years of Spirou (Part 1)

Reader Olivier N. wanted to pay tribute to Spirou’s 75th anniversary, so, well, here he is doing just that! – Brian

On the 21st April of 1938, half a world away from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, on the old continent, between Brussels and Paris, Spirou Magazine came to life.

This Week Spirou magazine Hit number 3925, and sells roughly 100.000 copies every week (mostly subscriptions), and I will tell you, how it all began …

Jean Dupuis Created a printing House in 1898 near brussels, and then founded ‘Editions Dupuis’ in 1922, as an editor he created a first magazine called “Moustique” (general informations, politics, radio programs and such…) but he wanted to created a magazine for the young people, a thing he will do after meeting with Robert Velter (a French artist), and thus Spirou was created.

An editor, an artist, some colors on a canvas, some seltzer water, and Spirou was born.

Naissance-spirou

Spirou Magazine will be published every week on Fridays, with the title page recounting the continuing adventures of Spirou (the Hero) even during the somber times of the second world war.Rob-vel will soon ad a squirell to accompany the Hero (Spip)* and some times later rob-vel will tell a long story where Spirou has for a friend a Black man from Africa ‘la Puce’ (‘The Flea’ or ‘The Sweet’ depending on how you translate, flea for literal translation, sweet for slang translation) (the story ran from 08/20/42 to 02/04/43)- La puce returned to africa with a train load of ducks (La puce was real fond of ducks … ) at the end of the story. Great move about fraternity and against racism during those somber times.

planche2

Rob-Vel will tell the stories of Spirou from 1938 to 1943, he will only be replaced by Jijé (Joseph Gillain) for a period between 1940-1941 when the Nazis will occupy paris, and the paper is in shortage.

When Rob-Vel leaves Spirou in ’43, Dupuis will turn to Jijé to continue the adventures of the Hero. Jijé acts as tutors to many young artist (which will be known as ‘l’école de marcinelle’)#

Jijé never really liked Spirou, he preferred to work on other projects he created like Don Bosco, jerry Spring, Jean Valhardi … but he also took on every assignment asked by Dupuis.
In the first issues of Spirou magazine we can find a strange Character, Named ‘Marc, The Modern Hercules’ published in B/W and partly redrawn (some pages will be entirely drawn by Jijé) that story is the first french adaptation of an american comics, namely Superman, from action comics, perhaps you’ve heard of it ?

frenchpleine_page_spirou

Jijé will continue the adventures of Spirou from ’43 to ’46, adding a wacky character named Fantasio, whom will become the center of comedic and story origins.

4_L_Aventure2

As soon as he can, Jijé will give Spirou to one of his protégé, namely Franquin, who will stay on the character till 1969.

SPIROUFAC-01-F-01_99410

(one of the first pages Franquin did on Spirou)

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(Spirou and Gaston)

* = Spirou is belgian (wallon) slang for squirrel and facetious, and spip is an indo-asian red- squirel (a red squirel for a red squirel…). La puce wich is twice as big as spirou is both ‘a flea’ and ‘sweet’.
# = l’école de marcinelle gave us Franquin ( Spirou, Marsupilami, Gaston …); Morris (Lucky Luke); Peyo ( the Smurfs); Roba (Billy and Buddy); Will, Thillieux, Gos …

4 Comments

I wish more of these were available in English.

Learning French makes you appear cosmopolitan and opens up an entire world of comics you’ve never heard of. And it’s not really all that difficult, compared to something like Chinese. At least French shares 40-60% of its vocabulary with English.

Surprising to see CSBG talking about Spirou!

The article was fine, although the writer still clearly needs to improve his english.

Shoud be mentioned that the nazis cut off Spirou’s paper supply (thus in practice canceling the mag) during 1943. The last Rob-Vel Spirou was published there. Dupuis was still able to put out two book-format editions that year (where Spirou was already being done by Jijé), but the magazine only came back with the Liberation in 1944.

As a curiosity, the Spirou editor, Jean Doisy, was a member of the Resistance and used the comic to pass secret messages to his contacts more than once! How cool is that?

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