Today is the fiftieth birthday of Spirou artist Fabrice Parme.
Parme was born in Laxou, in the Lorraine region in North-Eastern France. He studied at the Duperré School of Applied Arts and the Angoulême School of Fine Arts, and debuted professionally in 1988 with an illustration in Pilote et Charlie (as Pilote was called at the time). He was first seen in the Journal de Spirou in 1994, drawing the series Le Petit Roi (“The Little King”), written by Fabrice Fouquet. The same year he started a collaboration with Lewis Trondheim on the series Venezia, but it did not find a publisher at the time, and Parme soon shifted his focus to animation.
In the following years he worked on a number of French and American cartoons, including the series Famille Pirate (“Pirate Family”), which he visually designed and later adapted into comic form. The cartoon ran for two seasons, in 1999 and 2004. At the turn of the century he also returned to Venezia, now with more success: two albums were published by Dargaud in 2001 and 2002.
He has continued to work within both comics and animation, often collaborating with Trondheim. Their series OVNI, about a little blue alien, was turned into a cartoon for Canal+, and Le Roi Catastrophe (“King Catastrophe”), about an underage despot, was under development for France 3, although it doesn’t seem to have aired.
He and Trondheim created the sixth Spirou one-shot, Panique en Atlantique (“Panic in the Atlantic”), published in 2010. Since then, he has published a couple of short Spirou stories and some illustration, and contributed other comics to the magazine, including the Famille Pirate. It was announced earlier this year that he is working on another Spirou one-shot, which he will write as well as illustrate himself. In a 2010 interview for the Galerie des illustres series of profiles, he said when asked about doing another Spirou album: “I would most of all like to take a look at Seccotine, one of the few women in the comic. Very modern, she uses any means to get what she wants. And although you might want to slap her sometimes, she’s so charming you just can’t. Franquin created many brilliant supporting characters: Seccotine, the Marsupilami, Gaston…”
As befits his animation background, Parme’s style is strongly influenced by cartoons from the 1950s and ’60s, particularly the so-called “UPA-style”, with flat and heavily caricatured (sometimes almost Picasso-like) characters against backgrounds that often portray modernist architecture with skewed geometries. It’s an unusual look for the series, but one that Parme makes work. Although his first one-shot received at best a mixed reception at the time (ActuaBD’s review is titled “Le Spirou Catastrophe“), more recent reassessments have been far more positive. It will be very interesting to see his next one-shot, and if it indeed focuses on Seccotine.
Happy birthday Parme!