Le grand cirque de la vie (FICTION) (French Edition)

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Among the people who worked there were Bob de Moor , Jacques Martin and Roger Leloup , all of whom exhibit the easily recognizable Belgian Ligne claire clean line style , often opposed to the " Marcinelle school "-style named for the seat of Spirou publisher Dupuis , mostly proposed by authors from Spirou magazine such as Franquin, Peyo and Morris.

Nonetheless, with Lombard Francophone Europe had received its first specialized comics publisher actually conceived as such. Le Lombard went on to become one of the three great Belgian publishing houses to produce comics in French and in Dutch as well for that matter due to the bi-lingual nature of the country , alongside Dupuis and Casterman, and like them as of still in existence. In the second half of the s many new magazines appeared, although in most cases they only survived for a few weeks or months. Yet, both France and Belgium were liberated before war's end had already seen the start of the industry career of the French-Belgian Jean-Michel Charlier , in the process becoming one of its most towering figures.

Aside from being a very prolific comic script writer, becoming his trademark henceforth, Charlier also became an editorial driving force and spokesperson for the agency, because of his background in law and his assertive personality. Reworked into complete stories, the comic became successful in Tintin magazine in the period — and thus, alongside Martin's The Adventures of Alix , one of the first purely French comics to appear in the Belgian magazine , effectively becoming the "spiritual father" of their later Asterix creation.

But it were not just the artists contracted by World Press who infused Spirou with its new elan, Dupuis itself had contracted a group of artists who were as much responsible for its success and then some as it was this group that defined the rejuvenated magazine in the post-war era. Peyo was actually a former colleague of Franquin at CBA, but was at the time of the demise of the animation studio not considered by Dupuis because of his young age. It was this series that in spawned another of the great Franco-Belgian comic classics, Les Schtroumpfs The Smurfs.

With both magazines firmly in place, it was the success of Spirou and Tintin that initiated what many fans and scholars consider the golden age of the Franco- Belgian comic. In France, a law about publications intended for the youth market was partly written by the French Communist Party , a major political force in France directly after the war because of their highly successful and effective resistance in the war years , to actually exclude most of the American publications.

The formal and official justification for the law was the legislative desire to protect the youth of France from the perfidious and corruptive influence perceived to permeate foreign comics, especially in regard to violence and sexuality, the American ones in particular even though they were not mentioned by name in the law , and in this the French law actually foreshadowed the publication of the comic condemning treatise Seduction of the Innocent by Fredric Wertham in the United States itself.

But there was an equally important, but unofficial, reason for the law as well; American comics were doing so well in post-liberation France, that native comic magazines, particularly the Catholic ones, became threatened in their very existence, and the law therefore became concurrently a veiled market protection mechanism. An added sense of urgency was, besides the huge popularity the American magazines enjoyed among France's youth, that the native publications had at that time a distinct disadvantage over their American counterparts as the country still experienced a serious post-war paper shortage reflected as such in the poor paper quality, relatively low page count and lower circulation numbers of the native magazines of that era , something the higher quality American ones did not suffer from, they receiving preferential treatment under the Marshall Plan.

The very first targeted American comic for example, Tarzan , enjoyed a weekly circulation of ,00 copies, twice the one Coeurs Vaillants had and dwarfing the 76, copy circulation of Tintin , and it was but one of the many American comics published in France in the immediate post-war era. It was the very reason for the unlikely French Catholic-Communist alliance in this regard, and a very effective one at that as American comics all but disappeared from the French comic scene for the time being, the Le Journal de Mickey excepted, which only reappeared three years later in former occupied western Europe.

Both volumes remained prohibited in France until , though French fans on holiday in Belgium, Switzerland or Luxembourg could pick up the albums unhindered over there. Legally, the Commission had no punitive powers, only advisory ones, but in practice Charlier begged to differ. The all powerful Commission, shielded by the Justice Ministry which was the punitive authority, but who took any and all Commission recommendations at face value, no questions asked , [31] convened on a weekly basis, sifting through publications and weeding out those they felt subject to prohibition under the law, every decision they took being final, under no obligation to ever provide any formal justification whatsoever and without any possibility for appeal, which amounted to de facto state censorship according to Charlier.

Yet, it were also the communists who provided the comic scene in France with a bright-spot; Having its origins in the communist wartime underground resistance publications, the comic magazine Vaillant not to be confused with the two near-similarly named Fleurus publications was launched in upon war's end. The secular magazine provided a platform for predominantly native comic talent born between the s and the s, not able or willing to work for the Catholic magazines, to showcase their work.

While both he and his creations are likewise forgotten, Mouchot became the only French comics artist to be legally persecuted, and ultimately convicted by the highest court of appeal though only receiving symbolic punishment under article 2 of the law for real. However, the conviction did serve as an effective deterrent for other native artists — and thus firmly establishing the Commission as a force to be reckoned with, even though they had a tough time becoming so as Mouchot kept winning his lower court cases — who continued to create their comics while erring on the side of caution for the next decade.

The situation in Belgium, even though the Catholics — who, contrary to their French counterparts, had not to contend with the negligible influence of the communists — were the dominant factor in politics in the country as well at the time, was nowhere near as restrictive as it was in France. In , the influential French weekly Pilote launched, already from the start an attempt to be a more mature alternative to Spirou and Pilote , aimed at a teenage audience, with the " Asterix " series as an almost instantaneous success.

The audience radicalized at a faster pace than the editors, however, which had trouble keeping up. Also, aimed at an adult audience, the French satire magazine Hara-Kiri was launched. In the sixties, most of the French Catholic magazines, such as the Fleurus publications, waned in popularity, as they were "re-christianized" and went to a more traditional style with more text and fewer drawings. With a number of publishers in place, including Dargaud Pilote , Le Lombard Tintin and Dupuis Spirou , three of the biggest influences for over 50 years, the market for domestic comics had reached commercial maturity.

At this time, the French creations had already gained fame throughout Europe, and many countries had started importing the comics in addition to—or as substitute for—their own productions. The aftermath of the May social upheaval brought many mature — as in aimed at an adult readership — comic magazines, something that had not been seen previously and virtually all of them of purely French origin, which was also indicative of France rapidly becoming the preeminent force in the continental European comics world, eventually usurping the position the Belgians held until then.

Nonetheless, it were these publications and their artists which are generally credited with the revolutionizing and emancipation of the Franco-Belgian comic world. Essentially, these new magazines along with other contemporaries of their kind, were the French counterparts of the slightly earlier American underground comix , also conceived and popularized as a result of the counterculture of the s , of which the French May events were only a part.

Aside from the creative aspects, the s brought in effect another kind of freedom for French comic artists as well - commercial and financial freedom. Until the revolt in the offices of Pilote , artists worked in a studio system, namely a tenured exclusive working relationship at the magazine or publisher, with artists having little to no control over both commercial and creative aspects of their creations — except for a few artists who also held editorial offices at publishing houses such as Goscinny, Charlier and Greg, the former of which incidentally, having also been a major element for the revolt at Pilote.

The advent of the new adult magazines had a profound effect on France's hitherto most influential comic magazine Pilote. Editor-in-chief Goscinny had at first refused to implement the changes demanded by its artists during the revolt in the editorial offices, but he now found himself suddenly confronted with the magazine hemorrhaging its most promising comic talents and diminishing sales. However, while the magazine was now targeted at an older adolescent readership with stories featuring more mature themes, Goscinny stopped short of letting the magazine become a truly adult magazine.

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Yet, the magazine was unable to regain the dominant position it had held in the previous one-and-a-half decade, due to the flooding of the market with alternatives. Hansen couple. Yet, it remained French publications and French artists who would continue to dominate the field from the lates onward to this day, with such sometimes short-lived magazines as Bananas , Virus , Mormoil , the feminist Ah! Renowned for his meticulous research into the subject matter of the comic series he was creating, not seldom taking as long as it took him to create the series in question, Bourgeon depicted an historical reality devoid of any so-called "heroes", only featuring common people who were as often victimized as they were heroic, living in a world which was brutally hard while living a live which was therefore all too often very short for the common man, being habitually subjugated to the will of the powerful without any recourse whatsoever to objective justice, especially the women.

Bourgeon however, made his harsh message to his readership palatable by his relatively soft art style and his optimistic view regarding human resilience. To hammer home the point, both artists had their medieval knights , around whom both narratives were centered — Bourgeon's knight seeking redemption, whereas Hermann's knight sought to reclaim his birthright — die violent deaths nowhere near the fulfillment of their respective quests, thereby reinforcing the futility of such endeavors.

It was not just the comic scene these new publications and their artists changed, the perception of the medium in French society also changed radically in the s—s, in stark contrast to the one it held in the s—s.

Gratuitous French

Since then more than one comic artist have received " Ordre des Arts et des Lettres " civilian knighthoods, and these were not restricted to French nationals alone, as Japanese artist Jiro Taniguchi has also received one in [63] for his efforts to merge the Franco-Belgian comic with the Japanese manga format see below. Belgium, where the modern Franco-Belgian comic format was conceived after all, was somewhat slower in advancing the format as a bonafide art form, but has strongly followed suit in considering the Franco-Belgian comic as a "key aspect of Belgium's cultural heritage".

Belgium possesses two other, smaller, museums dedicated to individual comic artists, the Marc Sleen Museum est. These books are often more artistic, graphically and narratively, than the usual products of the big companies. Before the Second World War , comics were almost exclusively published as tabloid size newspapers. Since , the " comic album " or " comics album ", in French " album BD " or " BD " for short [75] format gained popularity, a book-like format about half the former size. The albums, usually colored all the way through, are almost always hardcover for the French editions and softcover for the Dutch editions — though the hardcover format has steadily gained ground from the lates onward as customer option alongside the soft cover format, contrary to Francophone Europe where the hardcover format is the norm.

When compared to American comic books and trade paperbacks such as the later American graphic novel format , the European albums are rather large roughly A4 standard. Comic albums started to receive their own individual ISBNs from the mids onward all over Europe with some countries like Portugal and Italy lagging behind for a decade or so , solidifying their status as books.

Conceived as a format as currently understood in Belgium with the first Tintin albums in the early s — incidentally the second reason for considering Tintin the starting point of the modern Franco-Belgian comic, besides the art style and format — albums were usually published as a collected book after a story or a convenient number of short stories had finished their run in serialized magazine pre- publication, usually with a one to two year lag.

As publishing co-editor of Pilote , it was he who initiated a line of comic albums, for Dargaud, collecting the stories as serialized in the magazine until then, becoming in effect Dargaud's very first comic album releases. The first July title in the series, coined La Collection Pilote , [76] was the first adventure of Asterix from Uderzo and Goscinny, a runaway success right from the bat, followed by sixteen further titles from the magazine, with the first Blueberry adventure, "Fort Navajo", becoming the last to be released in July After that, the collection was suspended and each comic hero s hitherto featured therein, spun off in album series of their own.

In order to give these releases a more "mature" book-like image, the albums were from the very start executed as hard cover editions for France, while being executed in soft cover by licensee Le Lombard for Charlier's own native Belgium, somewhat reflecting the status comic albums still had in that country, as it had in other European countries. Charlier's initiative was not entirely devoid of a healthy dose of self-interest, as over half the releases in the collection were titles form comic series he had co- created. It was only after the runaway success of the Collection that the hardcover became the norm for album releases in France.

Even though the success of the collection prompted Le Lombard to speed up its hitherto lackluster album releases, they did so initially in the predominant soft cover format until the mids like Dupuis was already doing, while maintaining the softcover format as standard for the Dutch-language editions for decades thereafter, as did Dargaud.

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Being a relative newcomer in the field Dargaud entered into a joint venture for the album releases with Le Lombard for nearly two decades. This meant that Dargaud album titles were released by Lombard for French-Belgium initially as soft covers in the first decade and with a couple of years lag, for Dutch-Belgium as well for the Netherlands and likewise with a lag, Dargaud sought out cooperation with other, local publishers for their releases , whereas Lombard album titles were released in France by Dargaud, invariably as hardcovers for their own releases, but in softcover for the first five years or so for the Lombard releases before permanently switching to hardcover, even before Lombard did for its own French-Belgian home market.

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The album format has also been adopted for native comics in most other European countries the United Kingdom having until recently been one of the most manifest exceptions , as well as being maintained in foreign translations, in the process becoming the preeminent publication format of comics on the European continent, including the former Eastern Bloc after the fall of the wall in A practical reason for publishers to proceed in this manner, is the more recent fact that these older series have to some extent ran their courses in decades-long reprint runs of the individual volumes, and that it has commercially become more expedient to re-issue sold out volumes in this format, instead of continuing to reprint the individual volumes, aside from tapping into a new replacement market by targeting the nostalgia of now grown-up and more affluent readers who want to upgrade their worn-out individual copies they had bought and read as youths.

The latter style he acquired during World War II when he had to complete realistic comics such as Fred Harman 's Red Ryder after the occupying Germans prohibited the import of these American comics. Another ambiguous, even earlier, example concerned the creations of Victor Hubinon Buck Danny , Redbeard , who created comics in his own distinct style that had the characteristics of both the realistic and schematic styles, but which can not be unambiguously be categorized as either, or at the most be categorized as an "in between" style.

The realistic comics are often laboriously detailed. An effort is made to make the comics look as convincing, as natural as possible, while still being drawings. No speed lines or exaggerations are used. This effect is often reinforced by the coloring, which is less even, less primary than schematic or comic-dynamic comics. This is the almost Barksian line of Franquin and Uderzo. These comics have very agitated drawings, often using lines of varying thickness to accent the drawings. The artists working in this style for Spirou, including Franquin , Morris , Jean Roba and Peyo , are often grouped as the Marcinelle school.


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The major factor in schematic drawings is a reduction of reality to easy, clear lines. Typical is the lack of shadows, the geometrical features, and the realistic proportions. Another trait is the often "slow" drawings, with little to no speed-lines, and strokes that are almost completely even. It is also known as the Belgian clean line style or ligne claire.

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The Adventures of Tintin is not only a very good example of this, it is currently also considered as the original template for the style as used in modern European comics. Despite the large number of local publications, the French and Belgian editors release numerous adaptations of comics from all over the world. Yet, it was in the field of the graphic novels that American and British creations did attract attention from the Franco-Belgian comic world, the early ones having been Richard Corben and Bernie Wrightson , the former of which having started out in the American underground comix scene, where artists created comics with the express intent to distance themselves from the classic American comics as produced by the big studios.

As mentioned, Heavy Metal made a deep artistic impact on an entire young generation of English-speaking comic creators, such as Neil Gaiman and Mike Mignola , who started to create more modern, more mature comics henceforth. Actually starting out with hardcover! Of the post-classic superhero era, Mike Mignola has become one of the most French translated American comic artists.

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Japanese manga started to receive more attention from the early to mids onward. Recently, more manga has been translated and published, with a particular emphasis on independent authors like Jiro Taniguchi. Manga now represents more than one fourth of comics sales in France. In , Delcourt acquired the earliest know such specialist Tonkam , which had already been established in There are many comics conventions in Belgium and France.

Typical for conventions are the expositions of original art, the signing sessions with authors, sale of small press and fanzines, an awards ceremony, and other comics related activities. One of the oldest Franco-Belgian comics conventions was the "Convention de la B. The very first one he co-founded was actually the Lucca one, experience gained on that experience put to good use for the Parisian one. His efforts for the medium gained Moliterni no less than three French civilian knighthoods.

Franco-Belgian comics have been translated in most European languages, with some of them enjoying a worldwide success. Some magazines, aside from the Dutch-language editions, have been translated in Greek, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, while in other cases foreign magazines were filled with the best of the Franco-Belgian comics. In France and Belgium, most magazines have since then disappeared or have a largely reduced circulation for socio-economic reasons but mostly because modern readership no longer possesses the patience to read their comics in weekly or monthly installments, instead preferring to have a story presented to them wholesale in album format , but the number of published and sold albums stays relatively high — the majority of new titles being currently directly published as albums without prior magazine serialization — with the biggest successes still on the juvenile and adolescent markets.

This state of affairs has been mirrored in the other European countries as well. As a format, the Franco-Belgian comic has been near-universally adopted by native comic artists all over Europe, especially in the neighboring countries of Belgium and France and including Italy, despite that country having had a rich and thriving comics culture of its own , solidifying the position of the Franco-Belgian comic as the preeminent force on the European comics scene, Great Britain excepted. The greatest and most enduring success however was mainly for some series started in the s, s and s including Lucky Luke , The Smurfs , and Asterix , and the even older Adventures of Tintin , while many more recent series have not made a significant commercial impact outside mainland Europe and those overseas territories historically beholden to France, despite the critical acclaim for authors like Moebius.

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