Another installment of the Friends of Spirou Code of Honor (see previous parts here):
This entry is perhaps the most interesting one so far. Like the other comic strips, it was included in the Flemish edition of the Spirou Almanach 1944, the Robbedoes Almanak 1944, along with an accompanying text. The Code of Honor was used as a kind of year-long challenge for Friends of Spirou and other readers, who were given one point of the code as an assignment to practice each month. In this particular case, the Dutch translation actually added a clause to the code: A Friend of Spirou is faithful to God, his country and his language.
Obviously this alludes to Belgium’s division into French-speaking and Dutch-speaking (Flemish) communities (along with some smaller minorities), which has been a source of conflict for all of the nation’s history. Language is also a particular focus of the instructions to the readers:
A Friend of Spirou is faithful to God, his country and his language. I wonder, Spirou Rascals and Rascalettes, if anything more needs to be said. Because this loyalty is one of the noblest things you can ask for in a person. For these ideals, our ancestors fought and perished on the battlefield! Think about the crusaders, who left home and hearth to fight for the true Faith. Think about the countless wars against all kinds of foes, by which our forefathers won us the respect of the whole world. Do it for them!
The loyalty to our mother tongue is one of those noble things that every true boy and girl can sense by instinct. Who could be embarrassed by the language they learned from their Mother? That would be despicable. On the other hand, we shouldn’t look down on other languages either, particularly not the ones spoken by our fellow citizens.
These are the feelings we have to pay particular mind to this month. We have to encourage the love of God, country and language; above all in ourselves, but also in those around us! Is that a deal? Spirou counts on his faithful friends!
(Translated from Dutch by Miriam, with some edits.)
These sentiments may sound old-fashioned today, particularly the enthusiastic endorsement of the Crusades and the oblique reference to Belgian colonialism (now considered a less-than-proud chapter in history). But even at the time, they don’t seem to have been entirely sincere. The Dupuis family were devout Catholics, and Jijé shared their faith, but Doisy, who actually wrote the code, was a communist and atheist:
Dupuis Publishing certainly didn’t give him a free hand, ideologically speaking. I imagine it must have cost him to write something like that, he who was anti-religious through and through. He cultivated his reputation for it with enthusiasm. He declared one day that for as long as he lived, no priest would pass through the door of his house.
–Georges Evrard (Doisy’s grandson), from La véritable histoire de Spirou
(Later, during the war, this pledge became problematic when Doisy became close with a priest who was a member of the same resistance group. However, true to his word, whenever this priest visited he would have him come around the house to the garden, never actually stepping foot inside!)
We might also add that Jijé, who here condemns complaints about the Belgian weather, ended up moving to sunny Mexico not long after the war.