It’s been a while since one of these, and a lot of things have happened. Too much, in fact, to deal with in a single post. So to start off, let’s look at the publications that have been released in the last few weeks. They require some warning…
The Complete Gaston Lagaffe box set
We already knew that the Gaston box set (released 22. November) would not actually be “complete”, in that it omits the text pieces, single-illustration gags and other Gaston appearances outside of actual comics. (Among others, this includes the first appearances of the character, with the famous “blue footprints” and initial running gags, which are not part of this collection.) Furthermore, the box set also excludes the comics Franquin made as advertisements for various products, and one (rather gruesome one) made in support of Amnesty International.
While these omissions could perhaps be justified, it turns out that by mistake, the box set is also missing a number of regular Gaston one-pagers. Dupuis admits that about 10 pages are missing, others claim it is more. This obviously is a major flaw, which you might argue rather spoils the idea of a complete Gaston collection. (Source)
Franquin’s Journal de Spirou digest covers collection
The book Touts les couvertures des recueils du Journal de Spirou par Franquin (“The Complete Franquin Covers for the Journal de Spirou Digests”) was published on 15. November. According to comments on InediSpirou, the book contains little editorial material and only a few reproductions of Franquin’s original drawings (many of which have been lost): it’s mostly just scans of the digest album covers, made from copies in Dupuis’ archives.
The criticism being voiced from several corners of the Internet is that many of the albums that have been scanned are in very poor condition (torn, stained, covered in tape, etc.), often greatly compromising the artwork. This is a shame, as the book is otherwise handsomely produced. In most cases, better-preserved copies are not hard to get hold of, either, with several available on ebay at any time. As a further problem, again it turns out that some covers are missing – apparently in cases where the digest albums were issued under multiple alternative covers. One prominent omission is reportedly the picture of Spirou boxing against Poildur on album #27.
These mistakes are starting to look pretty damn sloppy. Several major fan pages have complete lists of all the album covers with alternates, so there’s no good excuse for the error. What could have been a treat for Franquin fans has turned out to be something of a debacle. Finally, Dupuis editor Sergio Honorez also mentions that since the book went to press, they’ve been able to locate three additional Franquin originals not included in the book. Hopefully a future edition can rectify the problems and provide a more satisfactory presentation of this material.
Yann & Conrad’s Hauts de pages
Finally, the collection of the 1980–81 Journal de Spirou marginalia by Yann & Conrad, Dans l’enfer des hauts de pages (“In Hell at the Top of the Page”) was also released on 15. November. As with the other books, this is not a 100% complete collection, although in this case it never claimed to be. In this case, complaints revolve around censorship. One of the targets of many of the duo’s jokes was Roger Leloup, the creator of Yoko Tsuno. These jokes were not particularly malicious, as far as I can tell (at least not compared with their attacks on Mitteï or Devos), but Leloup was one of the creators who took the most offense. Having perhaps mellowed over the last thirty years, Yann & Conrad have decided to censor the strips that refer to Leloup (who is currently ailing) or Yoko Tsuno. This involves, at a minimum, changing their names to pseudonyms “Roger Lepoulp” and “Koyo Notsu”. Yoko Tsuno is also drawn with an “anonymizing” bar across her eyes. A minor complaint, perhaps, compared to these others. (Source)