Today is Easter, the day when Christians the world over celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and children hunt for chocolate eggs. It’s a clear sign of how times have changed: I feel somehow obliged to explain what Easter is, in the 1960 it was as much part as the average Tintin reader as eating breakfast and, probably, going to church on Sunday. And so they were treated to special Easter issues, with splendid covers by the Studios Hergé.
Happy Easter, everybody! And go easy on the chocolate…
One of the most endearing aspects of 50s and 60s Franco-belgian comics magazines like Spirou and Tintin is the fact that they were not just a collection of serialised comic albums, but rather all-round children’s periodicals. In addition to the newest adventures of “all your favourite heroes”, they contained regular columns on hobbies, technology, science and history, pen pal services and, most particularly, do it yourself projects.
In 2012, Matt Madden created a concise overview of the history of American comics, its trends, subjects and obsessions, using only six panels, and featuring references to Dick Tracy, R. Crumb, Watchmen and more.
French comics scholar and cartoonist Nicolas Labarre has now updated this strip, expanding it with two panels. This was necessary to include newspaper strips and new cartoonists whow ork for young adults. And if you didn’t know the original, you’d never believe those two weren’t there to begin with.
Some time ago a group of men sat around a big table in a big room, and one of them said, “You know what we need to push brand awareness of our up market cars? We need the Justice League”. And so the League, that is, it’s DCU version, appeared in a series of Instagram videos, speeding around in an E-Class (in the case of Wonder Woman) or a Vision GT (Flash and Batman).
Speeding may be a relative term though, as the baddies seem to be taking an awful lot of time to actually get away. Almost as much as it takes to read the rather ridiculous dialogue, as a matter of fact.
Oh well, it was a budget well spent, and I take it lunch was splendid. And with a 100K impressions each, I guess even the marketing department was chuffed.
Flemish cartoonist Conz (pseudonym for Constantijn Van Cauwenberge) is turning into the go-to guy for the Belgian postal services when it comes to designs about prehistoric fauna and flora. After his dinosaur series from 2014, Conz recently announced on his Facebook page that his design for a series of stamps on prehistoric animals has been agreed on, and will be published in August of 2018 (link in Dutch).
Conz also added an initial sketch for the design, which, in my view, provided a lot more dynamism and life than the final artwork. Still, I do like the lonely woolly mammoth wandering the plains.
BPost, the Belgian postal services, also announced a new sheet of Smurf stamps, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Peyo’s little blue dwarves, and features all main characters (Brainy, Grumpy, Smurfette and Papa Smurf) as well as a Black Smurf from the very first album (mind you, not a purple one). This design harkens back to the original artwork of creator Peyo, and is rendered in a nicely sketchy style. This sheet will be available end of January.
All through his career, Hergé produced various advertising campaigns featuring his characters. They promoted everything from cars to margarine and washing detergent to cigars. With the international success of Tintin, these campaigns were mostly for international brands, but in the early days, they were mostly world-famous in Belgium.
This ad from the 1930s combines the most Belgian of characters, Brussels street urchin Flupke, with the most Belgian of chocolates, Jacques. Established in 1896 Les Chocolates Jacques were probably best known for creamy filling in all kinds of flavours and their collectable pictures. The brand still exists, but is now part of a global conglomerate.
Wilt, the 2016 album by Belgium’s finest lo-fi psychedelic countryrockers Red Rum Orchestra, is now on Spotify. That should be reason enough for a post. However, let’s just say that it also provides us with a nice opportunity to showcase the amazing magnificence that is Serge Baeken’s artwork this and many of their other EPs and albums. Head thee here.
With Tulips from Istanbul, the latest in the Spirou By spinoff series of Spirou and Fantasio adventures, Dutch cartoonist Hanco Kolk has created the first Spirou book that is quintessentially Dutch. For once, the original story is not in French, and Spirou is first and foremost Robbedoes.
On his Facebook page, Kolk presented this beautiful image, collecting all the giants that inspired him in the making of his book. Spirou godfather André Franquin, of course, along with atom style hero Yves Chaland, but also storyteller extraordinaire René Goscinny and two of the greatest masters of screwball comedy, Billy Wilder and Harvey Kurtzman. And if you look closely, you also see other great examples of the deadpan humor that Kolk favours, such as his bosom buddy Peter De Wit’s Sigmund, Mark Retera’s Dirk Jan and the hyperactive zaniness of Edika and L’Echo Des Savannes. It at least whets your appetite for the actual book…
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