You can consider this scanlation a tie-in with Cinebook’s recent release of The Marsupilami Thieves. In 1955, The Journal de Spirou made an 8-page promotional leaflet for Radio Circus Marcel Fort, distributed as a free supplement of the magazine within France only. The leaflet included an excerpt from The Marsupilami Thieves, as well as an original three-page story by Franquin where Spirou and Fantasio meet the stars of the Radio Circus. Combining and restoring scans from multiple sources, the full leaflet is presented here.
“What is a radio circus, and what has it got to do with Spirou?” you might ask. Well, in the 1950s, radio was the number one mass-medium in Europe, but many countries – including France – had restrictions against commercial radio stations. To get around these restrictions, Radio Luxembourg broadcast from right outside the French border, with powerful transmitters set up in the little country Luxembourg.
Radio Luxembourg was extremely popular (and is still around today, as one of Europe’s largest TV and radio companies: Radio Télévision Luxembourg, better known as RTL). The station used large-scale marketing campaigns to attract listeners – including in magazines like Spirou. As part of this marketing, the station created live shows that would tour the country, setting up tents in different places. The shows would be in two parts: first a traditional variety show (in the style of a theater, music hall or circus), followed by a radio program (usually a game show with audience members as participants) broadcast live from the stage. The novelty of being part of a radio show must have been a great attraction for audiences.
The magazines published by Dupuis offered a way to promote the radio station and the touring live shows in print, while at the same time Dupuis was buying advertising time on some of Radio Luxembourg’s programs. A mutually beneficial arrangement! And that’s how we get Spirou at the Radio Circus Marcel Fort.
Notice that Dupuis made sure to use the opportunity to advertise the magazine, and that the ad for soap and cologne on the back page features Rodolphe, “the youngest circus rider in the world” (with the Dop brand appearing in the comic itself). Synergy!
The scans of pages 1–4 and 8 (plus the additional text on pages 6 and 7) come from Les trésors de Spirou et le cirque by Philippe Mouvet and Ci. Decnop (Éditions l’age d’or, 2000), which also provided much of the information in this post. Pages 5–7 are from ZACK Dossier 2: Spirou und seine Autoren (Mosaik, 2005), and have been additionally restored. For the excerpt of The Marsupilami Thieves I have largely followed the translation from Cinebook’s English edition (2013), by Jerome Saincantin.