I was notified of these panels from the quite excellent Les Routes de La Défaite (Le Merlu 1, Paquet 2019), a harrowing story from the early months of the Second World War in France, when fugitives roamed the land and control posts were all over. Rather than just present a group of anonymous extras in these scenes at the Demarkationslinie, artist Jérome Phalippou cleverly makes them look strangely similar to celebrated characters from classic comics in the Spirou tradition.
We see Fantasio, Benoît Brisefer, the mayor of Champignac (and the count), but also a guy on a bike that looks a lot like Frank Pé’s Brousaille.
Later in the album, another checkpoint has the whole crew from the detective agency from Maurice Tillieux’s Gil Jourdan held up by the Germans, including inspector Crouton.
I thoroughly enjoy it when cartoonists explicitly take their place in a tradition, a specific medium with its own history, its legends, its continuity. Cartoonists who nudge their readers with references, quotations or cameo appearances, show they are part of the same group, that they understand, and that we’re all standing on the shoulders of giants.
(artwork from Le Merlu 1 – Les Routes de La Défaite by Thierry Dubois and Jérome Phalippou, Paquet 2020, with thanks to Les Amis de Spirou, who keep the flame alive)