Celebrating 75 Years of Spirou (Part 2)
Reader Olivier N. wanted to pay tribute to Spirou’s 75th anniversary, so, well, here he is doing just that! – Brian
After a try-out story of Spirou in the Almanach of 1946 (an almanach is an equivalent to an annual), Franquin will replace Jijé at the beginning of the story ‘The prefabricated house’
During is long tenure on Spirou , wich will become “Spirou and Fantasio” for the book publication, Franquin will continue to evolve both Spirou and Fantasio.
Spirou appeared as a groom for “the moustic hotel” under Rob-vel, but after a few gags, he got involved in a kidnapping, and he became an adventurer, still wearing his Red outfit of a groom. Jijé still has him as an adventurer, but Fantasio wackiness and try-outs for work (paranormal investigators, cinema stars …) will almost every time lead to an adventure.
Franquin will change all that overtime, Fantasio will become reporter for “le moustique”, sometime photograph (which will permit the introduction of seccotine) and will even be Editor in Chief for “Editions Dupuis” (in the firsts Gastons, Fantasio is the head of the redaction)
Back to Chronology, After a few serials which will see Spirou and Fantasio Buy a tank from the army surplus and rampage through the street with it (the try-out story) sold prefabricated house and be lost at sea (first weekly serial) having fantasio disguised as an old lady doing a prank on Spirou (and Spirou having his revenge on Fantasio disguised has a young sexy lady) , helping santa, Spirou’s inheritance of a haunted house, Going to Africa, meeting educated Gorillas, meeting and confronting a mad scientist and its working robot *, Spirou doing some boxing, and then some horse riding (with a horse that prefigures Jolly Jumper, and likes to hop in the trees.. ) and then back to Africa because of a vegetarian tiger. Spirou and Fantasio will then go the the old west and play Cow boys, before arresting Drug smuggling between France and Belgium. All that in a mere 4 years, 1 to 2 pages a week, and its only the beginning.
(battle with the mad scientist)
Then came, over a few years,The village of Champignac and its Earl (Count?), The marsupilami, Seccotine, Zorglub and all the legend of Spirou.
But 1950 is also the year the Editions Dupuis choses to begin the publication of Spirou and Fatasio in Book Format (Spirou magazine has become for Dupuis an anthology that préprints future albums of its catalog) That first album which is titled “4 Adventures of Spirou and Fantasio” reprints in album format (with modifications done to original pages; the page used for cover having 3 strips, and each page doing 4 strips in album) the second part of the mad-scientist/ evil robot story, the strange horse, the boxing match, and the drug smuggling stories.
Franquin will do its first long story of Spirou and Fantasio, “il y a un sorcier à Champignac” (There is a sorcerer in Champignac) a classic in ‘Franco-Belge’ story telling, Franquin is not at his peak yet, but he will get there real soon. New setting (the village of ‘champignac en cambrousse’ – ‘Champignac in the Outback’) and an all new cast of secondary characters, Pacôme Hégésippe Adélard Ladislas, comte de Champignac; The mayor of Champignac, Mr Dupilon (Pestle), Mr Duplumier(Pen tray) , Jêrome and hundreds more.
The following long story called ‘les héritiers’ (the inheritors) introduces us to Zantafio, cousin of Fantasio, but not as wacky, and the Marsupilami; the following story continues with the Marsupilami (les voleurs de marsupilami, the Marsupilami’s thieves) in which we are introduced to Seccotine. Seccotine is the only recuring female role in that period, competitor to fantasio as a photographer, and something of a love interest for both Spirou and Fantasio (even though its not clearly said- Spirou And fantasio being shown as a strong Bromance, leaving in the same house, each one having his privacy). Franquin will continue and Create Zorglub (with Greg) and be present all weeks up to 1961.
Franquin begin the new story called ‘Qrn sur Bretzelburg'(QRN to Pretzeltown) and succombs to a depression, that story will take 2 years to complete, Franquin will stay 15 mounths without drawing.
Franquin will do 2 other short stories, each doing 20 pages, and published 2 years appart (1965 and 1967)The last one ‘panade à Champignac’ (Pap in Champignac) Bringing back Zorglub, and making him one of the good guys, he was only misunderstood; Franquin leaves having resolved all the lose threads (the writer for those stories are Peyo and Gos). In 1957 Franquin had created a new character called ‘Gaston Lagaffe’ (Gomer Goof), over the next few years gaston will occupy more and more times for Franquin, even if at the beginning we do have Fantasio in it, and sometimes Spirou, they will completely disappear after 1968.
In 1965 Franquin meets a promising french young artist, Jean Claude Fournier, over the following 4 years , Franquin will do all his possible to make Fournier the new artist on Spirou and Fantasio (he will guide and assist him on his first story).
* = Strangely, even though the story was written and drawn in ’48 – ’49, the gangster in that story resemble a recent French VIP