We’ve previously looked at upcoming Spirou releases in other languages, but nothing can compare to what’s offered in French. Declaring 2013 the Year of Spirou, Dupuis has packed its schedule full of publications. Let’s first have a look at what has already been released…
Recent Spirou adventures
I reviewed Yoann & Vehlmann’s latest Spirou adventure here. As a curiosity, the first printing is a “silver edition” in which certain cover details are given a metallic finish. (It is otherwise identical to the regular edition.)
This book collects all the Spirou pages from the period, by Rob-Vel as well as his various friends and helpers (though it omits an episode drawn by Jijé before he finally took over the series). These first gags and adventures are not particularly accomplished, but have great historic interest for Spirou fans. In French, most of it has only been reprinted many years ago in a black-and-white facsimile edition, so for most readers this was their first chance to go back to the origin of the series. Christelle and Bertrand Pissavy–Yvernault (CBPY) provide an introduction and extensive editorial material.
Vol. 13 in the collected edition of Spirou & Fantasio brings us to the beginning of the Tome & Janry period (the previous volume covered Nic & Cauvin, whose time on the series overlapped much of this stretch). This book collects their first three albums, Virus (Spirou #33), Aventure en Australie (Spirou #34, “Adventure Down Under”), and Qui arrêtera Cyanure? (Spirou #35, “Who’s to Stop Cyanure?”), as well as several short stories, most of them previously published in La jeunesse de Spirou (Spirou #38, “Spirou’s Youth”); strangely, these are reproduced in lower-quality facsimile (basically a scan of a copy of the magazine) rather than from the original print sheets. There’s a solid article by CBPY, and a few extras to round it out.
Reading a Version Originale is the closest you’ll ever get to flipping through the actual Franquin drawings… unless you’re an eccentric billionaire or daring comic book art thief. Reproducing the inked pages down to each coffee stain and stroke of white-out, in their original size, they offer an increased appreciation for Franquin’s (and, in this particular case, Will’s) talent. The steep price and the sheer size of these books make them appealing first and foremost to hardcore fans and serious collectors.
Recent Spirou-related publications
The first volume in CBPY’s history of Spirou (the magazine, comic and character) lives up to its title, rewriting many things previously believed about its genesis. Through extensive interviews, recovery of original documents and archival research, the couple have uncovered a history that could easily have been lost. Originally planned as a single volume covering the entire history up to present day, the scope of the project keeps expanding, and the second volume (expected in 2015) will probably only go as far as 1960.
This book is a long conversation with Fournier over the course of one day, retold in the form of a comic. Fournier has plenty of stories to tell, and his good nature and enthusiasm for the medium and for Spirou shines through throughout. There’s also an appendix reproducing some papers from his collection, including samples of scripts and sketches for Spirou, and additional selections that didn’t make it into the book have been posted to the Dupuis blog (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
The illustrious/illustrated pun doesn’t really work in English, but this collection of more than 200 different comic artists paying tribute to Spirou (one page each, plus one for an interview) really does feature some famous names: Gotlib, Schuiten, Cosey, Toppi, Mézières, Prado, Van Hamme, etc. Two samples have previously been posted here and here.
The rest of the year is looking no less exciting. This is what we can look forward to:
Upcoming Spirou adventures
Dupuis have been publishing special editions of some of Franquin’s shorter stories, and the third one from 1959 sees the Count of Champignac turned evil by an experiment gone wrong. In addition to a new coloring by Jannin, reproductions of the original inked pages are included (like in the V.O. series, except scaled down to around standard album size), and the page breaks follow the original magazine layout. There are also extensive articles and analyses by José-Louis Bocquet and Sergio Honorez.
Another album given the V.O. treatment. The books are a limited edition (printed in a few thousand copies and not reprinted), and do tend so sell out eventually, so can you risk not buying it?
The second Tome & Janry volume will cover the albums L’horloger de la comète (Spirou #36, “The Comet’s Watchmaker”), Le réveil du Z (Spirou #37, “Awakening of the Z”) and Spirou à New York (Spirou #39, “Spirou in New York”), as well as some short stories from the period.
Previously discussed here, the content beyond the 23 double-strips that ran in Journal de Spirou is unknown, but seems likely to include many of Chaland’s other unfinished Spirou stories. Said to be in black-and-white.
This multi-part story told from the perspective of different Spirou characters, previously discussed here, will run as a digital comic in Spirou.Z before it’s collected as a one-shot album in print next year.
The repeated delays of this book (originally scheduled for 2011) have generally been blamed on Marsu Productions, and with their acquisition by Dupuis, the latest date should stick. The story is already available in the last Franquin volume of the intégrale collected edition, so it’ll be interesting to see whether this particular release offers anything except the same content under a different cover.
The sequel to Schwartz & Yann’s one-shot Le groom vert-de-gris (“The field-gray bellhop”) is set in 1946, and apparently concerns Spirou and Fantasio hanging out with existentialists in Paris and visiting Belgian Congo. November is the date of the album release, so it will probably run in the Journal de Spirou some months in advance.
Upcoming Spirou-related publications
Not directly Spirou-related, this book contains interviews and sketches Franquin did with various fanzines.
During WWII, as Belgium was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany, the Journal de Spirou continued to be published and even increased its circulation, even though Jean Dupuis was in exile in England, Rob-Vel for some time a POW, and magazine editor Jean Doisy a communist. However, in 1943, the German occupation power tried to assign a propaganda officer to the publisher. Dupuis refused, and the magazine was shut down… But what if it didn’t disappear, but just went underground? Alec Severin has imagined a clandestine Journal, anti-occupation cartoons sold under the counter. The book collects his series of 44 drawings on this theme.
This book deals with Franquin’s design sense, as expressed in the architecture, furniture and props across all his comics. Certainly the later Spirou albums, in particular, are full of very characteristic 50s modernism. Although, those backgrounds were mainly drawn by Jidéhem…
Billed as an “analysis of the mythology and internal references” of the series, the book appears to be a fairly wide-ranging discussion of the Spirou comic and its cultural context, with 200 pages of analysis and 50 of interviews with Spirou creators. This book was also first announced in 2011, but was delayed by Dupuis over rights issues. Hopefully it will see release in this anniversary year. An excerpt is available here.
Sources for this update include: