We mentioned in a previous post that Émile Bravo would be at the Spirou Festival this past weekend to present his work on the sequel to Le journal d’un ingénu (“The Diary of a Naive Young Man”). The presentation was held as promised on Saturday, and was hosted by Frédéric Niffle, editor-in-chief of the Journal de Spirou. Visitors who actually attended the event would have been surprised by the content, however.
In the words of one attendee:
Niffle started by saying that Émile Bravo couldn’t come. Then Fred Neidhardt [who draws Spouri et Fantasiz and was reponsible for the Rob-Vel April Fools hoax earlier this year] got on stage and announced that he was taking his place, to the editor’s great anger. The Spouri artist then wanted to show what the album cover of the sequel (which he said would be called Le journal de 2 génus; “The Diary of Two Who Are Not Inexperienced” [the French title is a pun on the original and uses a made-up word]) would look like, by drawing it live on stage.
Since [as he said] he can only draw from life, he asked two people from the audience to model for him: one pretending to be Spirou strangling Fantasio, who had come under sway of Nazism. The artist restarted his drawing from scratch three times, to general hilarity among the audience. In the end he decided to offer the drawing to the first person in the audience who could throw a ball of paper and hit him. (The children in the audience had a great time with this.)
Frédéric Niffle was pulling faces like he disapproved, but I laughed a lot.
So, yes, it was all a hoax. “Grelots” from The Unofficial Émile Bravo blog did a follow-up interview with Neidhardt to learn more:
Grelots: Spirou fans are very eager to see the sequel to Journal d’un ingénu. Knowing this, and about how little information is available, I suppose the temptation to do this little hoax was too strong for you and Frédéric Niffle?
Neidhardt: Niffle suggested we should do a little joke, and I thought of Émile. I always like to take advantage of my friends’ celebrity in order to promote myself. (Hey, it’s only fair!)
Grelots: I know you’re a friend of Émile Bravo, and that he lets a few lucky people read what he’s working on to give their input. Have you had this opportunity with the sequel to Journal d’un ingénu?
Neidhardt: If I say no, I’ll automatically be ranked in the outer circle of friends. (“Sure he’s a friend of Bravo, but he doesn’t get to offer him advice, so let’s not go too far!”) So you give me no choice! Uhh… Yes, yes, of course I have read it! In fact, Émile had started on some pretty crappy nonsense (borderline revisionism), but I was able to fix it just in time.
Grelots: If yes, is there anything you can tell us without giving away any surprises from the next book?
Neidhardt: I’ll throw a bunch of stuff out there, trying not to spoil too much. Here goes: Belgium and Germany are at war. Adolf Hitler challenges the Allies to bet the whole war on a football [soccer] game. Spirou is the captain of the team. He’s annoyed by the incompetence of one player in particular, none other than Fantasio. He decides to get rid of him by sending him on a mission behind German lines. Spirou and Fantasio run into a division of armored tanks, and they meet Adolf Hitler. The Führer thinks they’re professional athletes, and recruits them for his own team. They are forced to play on the Nazi team against their own country, trying somehow to come up with a plan, while the day of the big match approaches…
Grelots: Lets talk about you. After the success of your last title, Les pieds-noirs à la mer (“The Pieds-Noirs by the Sea”), for the publisher Marabout, what new projects are you working on?
Neidhardt: Yeah right, Grelot! I know perfectly well that the only thing you care about is Bravo. You’re only asking me this out of politeness, to pretend you’re interested. Don’t worry, I won’t bother you with unrelated topics.
Grelots: Thank you Fred for this information, and the new clarity it gives our readers.
Yes, thanks to Niffle, Neidhardt, jyache and grelots for an amusing gag and for the reporting. (Images and text used without permission. Translations and any errors by Spirou Reporter.)