May 022017

Jean De Mesmaeker, aka Jidéhem (Photo Copyright (c) D. Fouss, image from

Dupuis announced today that Jean De Mesmaeker, better known as Jidéhem, passed away on Sunday, 30. April. He was 81. Spirou Reporter did a profile on Jidéhem for his 80th birthday, discussing his work as Spirou & Fantasio background artist in the later Franquin years, as the artist on the early Gaston strips, and in his own right on series like Sophie, Ginger and Starter. More recently, an article in BdZoom (in French) argued that his importance to Gaston has been underrated, and that he should be honored on an equal basis with Franquin for the 60th anniversary of the series this year.

  12 Responses to “RIP Jidéhem (1935–2017)”




    El ultimo de los grandes ❤


    He drew the first 400 gags of Gaston, so yeah he’s underrated ! And his work on Spirou & Fantasio is gorgeous, backgrounds, cars (!), homes, secondary characters, everything is so full of details and style !


    puts… 🙁


    I’ve heard someone noting that it was rather Jidéhem, than Franquin, who was responsible for all the modern design furniture in the 50’s and 60’s Spirou albums. And Franquin would have preferred a more conservative and rural style.


      … And you’re wrong ; such designs first appeared in “Les Pirates du Silence”, published in 1955, years before Jidéhem became involved in Franquin comics. Those backgrounds were drawn by Will, and are famous for that, it’s one of the best examples of the renowned “Atom style”. Franquin himself had fun using that kind of designs in Modeste & Pompon ; Jidéhem never was involved in this series. Franquin said he always had lots of furnitures catalogs to stay aware of modern designs. And of course he created the Turbotraction, Turbot 2 and Zantajet – all modern designs. Jidéhem did help on the Zorglub albums but that was Franquin who created the Zorglumobile & Zorgléoptère. Jidéhem’s backgrounds were great when the action took place outside ; his office designs were not especially modern, a bit bland, like a theater stage. And there never was any Atom style in Jidéhem’s own comics. Why spreading a fact so blablantly wrong ? I wonder…


      Could it be this you’re remembering?


    It is sometimes hard to determine which parts exactly he drew and to what extent (pencils/inks), but I guess that just shows what a good job he did and how well he worked with Franquin… He worked on some of my all-time-favorite comic pages and whatever he did, he certainly didn’t mess them up (which is no back-handed compliment when you´re talking about Franquin).
    While he certainly deserves more credit for his Gaston work(!!!), I don’t think he actually drew many strips completely on his own. I recall Franquin mentioning in an Interview that Jidéhem often had problems capturing the body language/movement/whatever of Gaston himself and he helped him with that- by doing either pencils, inks or both, I don´t remember exactly. No shame in drawing less dynamic figures than FRANQUIN, I guess…
    Anyway- he was great. Many glorious pages of comic art wouldn´t exist without him.


      I’ve heard it being mentioned that he drew the short story “La Peur au bout du fil”, all by himself, but of course, it could have been some tandem collaboration with Franquin on that one, as well.

      Alas, his own series “Sophie” falls rather short compared to Franquin’s Spirou albums.


        I don´t think he did much more than backgrounds in that one, I remember it as being a pretty typical (=great) Franquin/Jidéhem-Joint, artwise.
        I always liked the art on Sophie- sure, if you compare his solo efforts to his Franquin-collabos they can pretty much only fall short, but that wouldn´t be fair, most comics would. Still a great craftsman. Can´t speak for the stories, though.


        That’s something I remember hearing as well, though I don’t remember where it came from. Could it be that some Scandinavian edition of Le Voyageur du mésozoïque mistranslates the “des décors de Jidéhem” (“backgrounds by Jidéhem”) credit to give the impression that he did all the art? Looking at the character drawings, and comparing them to Jidéhem’s other work (e.g. Fantasio in Gaston strips he definitely did draw), there’s no way Jidéhem drew Spirou or Fantasio in most of the panels.

        Also, in Numa Sadoul’s Et Franquin créa la gaffe, Franquin explicitly says that he drew the story: “Greg a été spécialement heureux, parce que c’est un scénario que je n’ai pas discuté du tout et que j’ai dessiné tel quel.” (“Greg was particularly happy because it was a script that I didn’t argue over at all, and which I drew as-is.”)

        However, according to the intégrale (mentioned in passing in the Zorglub volume), Jidéhem did draw the short S&F story for the 1957 Spirou de poche mini-magazine, Le Siphon (“The Soda Siphon”), by himself. I buy that. Franquin is credited, but even if he was involved (e.g. drawing the Marsupilami), I think it’s pretty obvious in several panels that it’s not his work.

        That also goes for the other Spirou de poche short, Les Patins téléguidés (“The Remote-Controlled Rollerskates”). Check out Spirou in the second-to-last panel, for example. Franquin did not draw that. (The stories are collected in vol. 5, 1956–1958.)

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