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One you will know but not even realize it. But you’ll have to wait for that one. Belgium has a great history in what I will call the graphic art of storytelling. Their history begins in the 1920s with youth publications and church newspapers. They share greatly with the French and French creators through one of their two languages.
“The coward think of what they can lose, the heroes of what they can win.”
Born in Belgium Charlier was a writer who later died in France. During his lifetime he created one of the most dominant comic series of the 1960s throughout Europe. Along with French artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud, he created Blueberry (1965-1990), a western comic set in the American West with an atypical cowboy hero. He wasn’t a lawman or out to get the girl. He happened to be in a place at a time and did what needed done. “When I was traveling throughout the West, I was accompanied by a fellow journalist who was just in love with blueberry jam, so much in love, in fact, that I had nicknamed him “Blueberry”. When I began to create the new series, and everything started to fall into place, I decided to reuse my friend’s nickname, because I liked it and thought it was funny. […] I had no idea that he would prove so popular that he would eventually take over the entire series, and later we would be stuck with that silly name!“~Charlier. He had been sent to Edward Air Force Base on assignment.
Charlier was the writer of Buck Danny (1948-1988), Redbeard (1961-1991) as well as many others. What I find interesting is the Belgian method of a series. Apparently it is tradition the writer and artist team continues until one either passes of the series is over. If one passes the series ends. Fortunately, Charlier had chosen successors for his works. There is a quality of these books that I am highly impressed with and has my fingers itching to write comic book scripts again.
Hergé (Georges Prosper Remi)
“I’m a dreadful egotist. I draw for the child I was and still am. If Jacques Martin or Bob de Moor has a good idea, I convince myself completely and forever that it was mine.”
Hergé was born in 1907 and passed away in 1983 in Belgium. He is seen as the pioneer of a style of drawing in comics called ligne claire or clear line. Although an artist he was also a writer. His art worked with his writing to create the stories he told.
His most famous work is The Adventures of TinTin. Although a much loved and popular series of the 20th Century it did have its detractors for its racial stereotyping. “I was fed the prejudices of the bourgeois society that surrounded me.” Some of his early work had to be altered depending on the market it was to be distributed in. The series has been on radio, TV, and movies.
The art style, ligne claire has influenced many. Think of a Batman comic with simply lines and paint rather than shadows on the face created by what is called cross hatching.
One particular standout to me is Geof Darrow who has worked with a previously mentioned creator, Frank Miller. One collaboration, Hard Boiled won the Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist in 1991. But how does Hergé connect to something you might know today?
It is impossible to do a comic piece on Belgium and not mention this next man.
The man known simply as:
“He remembers a meal he had with his friend André Franquin (Marsupilami) when he’d wanted to ask Franquin to pass him the salt. But he couldn’t remember the word so he says: “Pass me the … uhm … the smurf!”. Franquin hands it over and answers: “Here’s the smurf. Once you’ve smurfed with it you can smurf it back to me!” And so the name and language of the little imps were invented…”-From Smurfs.com
Pierre Culliford was born in 1928 in Brussels and passed away in 1992 in Brussels. Belgian from beginning to end. Why Peyo? A cousin mispronounced his name and I guess he liked it. He first worked for an animation studio but when it shut its doors he wasn’t accepted by another place that took his friends in. Thus began a career in print.
While working for Le Soir, a newspaper, he created Johan. Later when hired for Spirou published by the same company, Dupuis, that had refused to hire him before, he continued Johan as Johan and Peewit. This was in 1952.
In 1958 a creation came about in Johan and Peewit that would become cultural phenomenon in the future. The first Smurf was introduced. The Smurfs became so popular Peyo started his own studio.
The rest is history. I am certain some of you have seen the Smurf cartoons, and the Smurf movies. And all because a young man wasn’t hired by a company as an animator when the doors shut on his previous employers studio.
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