As reported last year, writer Yves Sente and artist Laurent Verron are doing a graphic novel about the cabin boy who inspired Rob-Vel to create Spirou. Now, from an interview with Verron in the fanzine Tonnere de Bulles ! #8 (via Le Petit Écho de Champignac), there’s a little more information, along with a penciled half-page.
Update: Just noticed that on Verron’s homepage, there are a number of sketches from his work on this album:
And here’s the half-page published in Tonnere de Bulles ! :
Excerpt from Ptirou (working title), an album to come in the “Spirou by…” [one-shot] series from Dupuis Publishing. Script by Yves Sente.
“Ptirou” sounds like it’s probably a contraction of petit roux, “little red-hair”. Verron:
Yves Sente offered me a project around Spirou. At first, I told him that I’m already considered a “cover act” as an artist [Verron draws the revived Boule & Bill, originally by Roba – and published in English as Billy & Buddy], and that it didn’t interest me. But he insisted, telling me that it’s not a Spirou adventure, but the story of the cabin boy who inspired Rob-Vel. He (Rob-Vel) had been a steward on a transatlantic cruise ship from Le Havre to New York, working alongside a number of cabin boys. He got to meet one of them, a streetwise redhead. Later, when he had become a cartoonist and Dupuis asked him to create the Spirou character, Rob-Vel remembered this cabin boy, who was (nick)named Ptirou. Yves read this story in the book by Christelle and Bertrand Pissavy–Yvernault, La véritable histoire de Spirou (“The True History of Spirou”; Dupuis, 2013). So I agreed, since it really wasn’t a story about Spirou, but a genuine standalone. Dupuis accepted the project, which is going to be part of the “Spirou by…” [one-shot] series. Yves Sente wrote the script and did the layouts*, and I started drawing in spring 2014. I’ve finished a dozen or so pages.
* In the French text, Verron seems to be saying Sente did the layouts, but the samples on his blog are clearly his. Perhaps they each took a pass at it?
The detail of the boy’s nickname and hair color isn’t in the CBPY book, and sounds like an invention by Sente. (Rob-Vel didn’t come up with the name “Spirou”, and the character was initially depicted as blond, so it would be some coincidence if true.) It also sounds odd that a story taking place outside of the Spirou universe would be published as part of the one-shot series; it wouldn’t be very surprising if that plan changed. Sente has previously stated that the album will be 72 pages, so there’s still a ways to go before publishing details become a pressing issue.
(Also thanks to the BD Gest Forums for first bringing this story to Spirou Reporter‘s notice.)