Jul 192014

Sketch for Spirou #54, from JdS #3979 (ill. Yoann & Vehlmann; (c) Dupuis and the artists)

After a period of few updates, there’s recently been some news about the upcoming Spirou & Fantasio albums by Yoann & Vehlmann, Le Labyrinthe d’Ibn-Sina (Spirou #54, “Ibn-Sina’s Labyrinth”), and the one after that, Spirou #55, which will feature the return of the Marsupilami.

Let’s start with #54. On the editorial pages of this week’s Journal de Spirou (#3979), there’s a short interview about it with the two creators:

Spirou & Fantasio: Next Departure for Alexandria!

While you’re reading this issue of Spirou, Yoann and Vehlmann are working overtime on the next Spirou & Fantasio album. However, we went to disturb them anyway, just to get some scoops from between Aswana and the mythical Alexandria…

Spirou #54 is by turns “light” and “heavy”…

Vehlmann: Yoann and I wanted to mix two genres. On one hand, an archeological quest à la Indiana Jones, searching for the treasure of Alexandria. On the other, a more political tale, because Spirou and Fantasio’s research takes them to Aswana, a country at war, reminiscent of Libya and Syria.

Yoann: I’m on the first third of the album, and so I’m drawing a town devastated by war, with Spirou wearing combat fatigues and a helmet. The atmosphere is different in the second half of the album. Right now, I’m taking great pleasure in creating dramatic pages, in playing with contrasts and solid blacks. Hubert [the colorist on the previous albums] wanted to concentrate on his own stories, so this time I’m working with Laurence Croix on colors, who already worked on Spirou for Yann & Schwartz.

Vehlmann: With such a warlike setting, we didn’t want to come off as giving lectures, but simply to depict certain realities of the world. In showing, via an imaginary war, what real conflicts might have in common, I was inspired by Franquin, who used the dictatorship of Palombia to talk about numerous Latin American countries at once. But humor remains at the center of album #54. To prove it: The western force intervening in Aswana is called Force Big-Nose!* And of course it’s a Franco-Belgian army…

We’ll run across a certain Vito the Unlucky in this episode…

Yoann: So far we’ve taken a lot from Franquin, for example by using Zorglub. We also wanted to pay tribute to our other predecessors, like Tome & Janry, many of whose albums are among my favorites. In Spirou in New York, Janry had achieved perfect mastery of his characters. Even Franquin told him so! I hope also to progress towards that with album #54. Even if I think that perfection has to be a road you travel, not a destination.

* “Big Nose” (“gros nez”) is a term for the caricatured art style of Franco-Belgian comics used in Spirou, Gaston, Asterix, etc.

In addition to that, a while ago Vehlmann told a fan that Yoann has had an idea for how to explain the absence and return of the Marsupilami, and that he might develop it and use it if he couldn’t come up with anything else. Or as he put it: “Since it was his idea, I’ll reject it, then reintroduce it later and pretend that it was mine!”

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    […] date for the album, it’s somewhat surprising, because it’s only four weeks ago that Yoann said he was working on the first third of the album. By the way, maybe take that title with a grain of […]

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