Yesterday it was 60 years since Gaston Lagaffe walked into the door of the offices of the Journal de Spirou (or to put it another way, 60 years since the publication date of issue #985 of the Journal, with the first appearance of the character). As low-profile as the introduction was, Gaston – created by André Franquin and Yvan Delporte – would come to have immense impact on Spirou & Fantasio, pulling Franquin away from the series and redefining the relationship between the characters and the magazine publishing their adventures.
The week before the magazine serialization of a new Spirou & Fantasio adventure in the Journal de Spirou, Franquin used to draw a little teaser. In 1965 he was well and truly burned out on the series: it had been two years since the last new adventure, QRN sur Bretzelburg (Spirou & Fantasio #18, “QRN Over Bretzelburg”) which itself had been delayed for more than a year after his health collapsed. He kept drawing Gaston Lagaffe each week, but only reluctantly returned to the magazine’s flagship series, as this mini-comic illustrates. However, the result was Bravo les Brothers, which ended up as his own favorite Spirou & Fantasio adventure.
Lots of people have worked on Spirou & Fantasio over the years, but many more have wanted to. During Nic & Cauvin’s troubled run in the early eighties, for example, several other creators were in talks with Dupuis before Tome & Janry took over definitely.
The “Friends of Spirou” Code of Honor only has nine commandments. But the comic strips Jijé made from them were not just a means to communicate the Code; they also served a secondary purpose. They were printed in Dupuis’ other magazines – Le Moustique and Les Bonnes Soirées – to advertise the Journal de Spirou and convince parents of the wholesome values the comic and its fan club stood for. And so as part of this advertising, Jijé also created one more strip (let’s call it the eleventh commandment, to set it off from the “real” Code), to emphasize a point perhaps even more important from the publisher’s point of view: Never miss an issue of Spirou!
No less relevant today, you can heed this important message by subscribing here, no matter where you are in the world.
Sent to the Spirou Reporter Facebook page by Steve Bennett, a fantastic find: possibly the first English version of Spirou & Fantasio! Turns out that the adventure Le nid des Marsupilamis (Spirou & Fantasio #12 “The Nest of the Marsupilamis”) was printed in the weekly British boys’ magazine Knockout, which featured comics and illustrated stories. The adventure ran in 1960 under the odd title “Dickie and Birdbath Watch the Woggle” in black and white and at two pages per week. “Dickie” is Spirou, “Birdbath”(!) Fantasio, and the “Woggle” the Marsupilami. Seccotine seems to go by the name “Cousin Constance”, and the female Marsupilami is the “Wiggle”.
After the last point in the Friends of Spirou Code of Honor stirred up some slight controversy, here’s one that should be fairly innocuous.
And the accompanying message of inspiration from the Robbedoes Almanak 1944 (where this was point 7), once again translated by Miriam:
In 1957, the Journal de Spirou reached issue #1000 (albeit having skipped some numbers during the war). The anniversary issue included several supplements, including a mini-comic (pages that could be taken out and folded up to make another, smaller magazine) for which Franquin drew this little two-pager. Spirou 2000 looks forward to the magazine’s 2000th issue, which would come out in 1976. So get ready for some retro-futurism!
I can’t help but feel Georges is being a bit prissy here. And of course the moral is at least half hypocritical, as Jijé himself painted nudes, for example. Besides, the corrupting movie looks like great fun! Well, at least they can all come together and agree on stylish trench coats…
The Journal thankfully relaxed its prudery decades ago (for example, check out the cover of next week’s issue).
As usual, an accompanying moral message from the Robbedoes Almanak 1944, which focuses more on the “getting your hands dirty” part (and again has reordered the points):