About a year ago, Fantagraphics announced that they would publish Franquin’s Last Laugh, a translation of Franquin’s classic Idées Noires. Much darker (both in tone and visually) than the Spirou and Gaston comics he became famous for, the often morbid “black thoughts” show another side of the master’s talents and personality, expressing his bitterness and existential despair – but also his pitch black sense of humor – as he struggled with clinical depression.
The book was originally set to ship this March, but the release date has been pushed back, and Amazon currently lists it for publication in July (though Fantagraphics claim it’ll ship in June). The delay is quite possibly related to the fact that Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson, the editor and translator of the book, has been diagnosed with lung cancer and stepped back from his job at the company.
Thompson has been a huge champion of European comics in English, and among many other achievements he translated the first English edition of a Spirou album, Fantasy Flight Publishing’s Z is for Zorglub. I wish him a speedy recovery and good health.