Comics quoting from the future

It’s most probably my personal idiosyncratic frame of reference, but off late I’ve noticed at least two classic Franco-belgian comics featuring characters that are blatant references to real people, except that those people were still children at best at the time the comics were published.

The first one (above), is from the excellent Lucky Luke album Lucky Luke Contre Phil de Fer. I mean, if that is not erstwhile punk god and teenage heartthrob Feargal Sharkey, I don’t know who this is. Except that, of course, the Lucky Luke fought (and killed) Phil de Fer back in 1956, while Feargal was only born in 1958…

The second one features Acelin, the sinister squire from the Johan Et Pirlouit album, L’Anneau Des Castellac, who plots against his lord, the Duc De Castellac (and is the book’s real villain). One may also see in him a long-lost twin of Professor Snape as played by Alan Rickman (who, as it turns out, is not). Again, the Johan Et Pirlouit story was first published in Spirou Magazine in 1960, while the world only got to know what Snape looked like in 2001, when the movie version of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone (itself published in 1997) was released.

I need a lie-down (not really).

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Astérix sells!

In 1967, Astérix, arguably the most successful French comic character ever, was big business. Each new album sold about half a million copies, and the characters by Goscinny and Uderzo were courted by all kinds of business for advertising campaigns.

Amongst which, La Vache Qui Rit, that quite truthfully shows exactly how big the portraits are that you can find in their cheese packages, but also the Tonimalt milk mix and Excel margarine, which added 12 minibooks with their packages, each with a funny fragment from an Astérix book. A, simpler times.

(Yes, I’m a bit on a nostalgic trip here. Indulge me)

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Brimstone by Kriek

Erik Kriek's Brimstone

For the Dutch media and TV listings magazine VPRO Gids [link in Dutch], Erik Kriek drew this magnificent cover, featuring Guy Pearce en Dakota Fanning as they appear n Martin Koolhoven’s new Western noir, Brimstone.

The image seems to bridge between Kriek’s Lovecraft illustrations, and his Murder Ballads collection. I have to agree with Michael – I hope this whets his appetite for a full blown western comic.

(via Michael Minneboo)

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Keep them hooked

What better way for a new magazine to attract new readers than a competition that requires them to buy each new issue faithfully in order to have a better chance at winning? And so the spanking new Pilote Magazine, founded in 1959 to compete on French soil with successful Belgian imports Tintin and Spirou, joined forces with Esso for a recurring puzzle in its first issues, albeit with the appropriate comic slant.

Every week Où Est L’Erreur presented a new picture of an Esso service station was published, featuring a single error that the readers needed to spot and send in, together with a corner of the page to prove you actually purchased the magazine. The visuals were created by none other than Belgian cartoonist Jidéhem (pseudonym for Jean De Mesmaeker), a long-time contributor to Spirou magazine, a.o. with fabulous illustrations for the recurring motoring articles (featuring his character, Starter) but also as one of the creative forces behind Gaston Lagaffe and Spirou Et Fantasio.

Check out the rest of the episodes in this competition after the click.

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A Cartoony Cookbook

Ever since I met her in Angoulême, I’ve been amazed by Zeina Abirached‘s beautiful, iconic cartooning style. In her books, like Le jeu des hirondelles and Je me souviens – Beyrouth, she manages to combine quite realistic memories and anecdotes from her youth in 1980’s Lebanon with an illustration style that is always gentle.

It would seem that the publishing world at large also discovered this quality, as is attested by this cookbook about Turkish cuisine, published in 2015. It features her illustrations quite prominently, so much so that they are quite prominent in determining the atmosphere of the book.

Incidentally, the visual elements and layout of this cover strongly reminded me of the international poster (I, II) for the animated movie based on Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.

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Puce Stamps

Puce Stamps by Walt Kelly, 1962

In 1962, Pogo cartoonist Walt Kelly made fun of the practice popularised by US supermarket chain Sperry & Hutchinson of giving out bonus stamps with each purchase. These green stamps could later be traded for household goods of all kind, giving customers the (false) idea of getting something for nothing, while at the same time making them spend more.

Kelly’s Puce Stamps were an obvious scam, promoted by token baddie Mr. Pig (a barely disguised caricature of Nikita Kruschev) and aimed at abusing the naivity of the denizens of the Okefenokee Swamp.

In real life, a set of nine Puce Stamps, featuring the main characters of the Pogo strip, was created in 1963, and included by publishers Simon & Schuster with the first edition of the Pogo compilation, The Puce Stamp Catalog. Even though the book is quite readily available, the stamps have become quite rare. And sadly, also rather pricey, for something that’s “absolutely guaranteed worthless”.

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Stealing Time

A collaboration between high-end fashion brand Chanel and Condé Nast, publishers of high-end fashion guide to life Vogue, Stealing Time is an online detective comic that hits all the button. Six episodes feature a femme fatale, a hard-boiled cop and a twist at the end of each episode that will keep you wondering. The centre of the story is a Chanel J12 watch, the only piece of evidence found at the scene of the crime. After all, this is a marketing stunt, aimed at flogging stuff.

The story for Stealing Time is by Elizabeth Wood. The quite atmospheric black and white art was created by Brazilian cartoonist Rafael Grampá (who won an Eisner in 2007  for his work for the anthology 5)


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