About Time I Talked About French-Language Comics

7000 posts! What now? Coming soon to Siskoid's Blog of Geekery...

One of the things I've been meaning to discuss more, because in this English-language world of comic book bloggery, I should be somewhat of an expert, is French-language comics, or Euro-comics, or what I'll probably be calling them, bandes dessinées. Let's try to change that in the coming weeks.

This won't really be about the current output out of France and Belgium because I'm not up to date on those at all, but about the veritable classics I read and collected in my youth (and still have). Most have been in translation, and Anglophone readers will recognize at least some of the series and authors I select.

My focus will be on what made each series interesting and perhaps historically relevant, on the author's style and achievements, perhaps using a particular volume as prime example. Expect variety - humor, adventure, period pieces, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, surrealism - just don't expect superheroes. That's a niche well filled by the English-speaking world and practically absent from bande dessinée.

It's my hope that these essays will interest readers of all language bases, either as cultural artifacts or as books to seek out and discover. My copies are all in French, but I'll make an effort to seek out English-language scans to better illustrate each series, if possible.

There's a whole other world of comics out there (well, more than one, truth be told), and I've only just scratched its surface. What's YOUR familiarity with Franco-Belgian comics output?

16 comments:

Toby'c said...

I was pretty into Tintin and Asterix during primary school, and I remember reading a few Smurf books later, including Snurfette's introductory story. That's about it.

Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

I like this idea! I have an account on Izneo.com and buy French comics I can only barely read sometimes with help from Google Translate. (Big tip: Buy the all ages humor books. Simpler language, fewer words to get to the gag, and the art often tells a lot of the story. Then you start to notice how many words repeat over and over and you learn those. And then you're faking your way through Melusine or Dad or that one about the rugby team....

Or, screw it, just read whatever Cinebook is translating. Start with Lucky Luke. ;-)

MichaelT said...

Asterix est le mieux! But Tintin and Lucky Luke are also favourites. Will you review them in English or French editions? English or French language?

Siskoid said...

Like I said, I'll use my French copies, but if I find English scans online, those are the pictures I will post up.

And "review" is perhaps misleading, as I won't go through the books like so many episodes of television. I'll basically look at series as a whole, and their creators, and discuss what's so good about them and whether you should seek them out regardless of mother tongue.

SallyP said...

Asteroid was the first comic I ever read... it was at the dentist and I think I was about five. Rocked my world.

But have you ever read the Lt. Blueberry books by Charlie and Girard (aka Moebius)? French Westerns and they are Awesome!

Siskoid said...

I have a Lt. Blueberry here somewhere...

Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

@Siskoid -- I've been tempted to do an album-by-album review of the Lucky Luke series, but then realized it might be prohibitively expensive. Cinebook is past 50 of those now, and I only have a dozen or so.

@SallyP -- Dark Horse is starting up the Moebius library reprints in the fall. No word yet on when the Blueberry books might be part of that, though. Not in the first few books, it looks like. =( I've never read those, but I'm hoping to someday...

Siskoid said...

I have a Blueberry book from when it was... at Epic?

As fir Lucky Luke, I have 6 or 7 probably, though read many more at the local library when I was a kid.

You're all making me think about album by album reviews now, dammit!

Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

Yeah, Epic had Blueberry in the 80s. I think that was ending just as I was starting to get into comics, so I missed it completely.

If you're going to go album by album, might as well start with Asterix. There's only three dozen or so of those, right? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I like this idea too! I've read a few BD: Asterix, Tintin, XIII, a couple of Blueberry, I think I read some Thorgal too. I tried to get into Blake et Mortimer, but it didn't really grab me; I've always meant to check out Adele Blanc-Sec, but I've never gotten around to it...same with Transperceneige. I love Corto Maltese, so I hope you include those. (I know Corto Maltese was originally Italian, but I read the French versions).

As for newer stuff, I'm like you, I haven't paid much attention (with the exception of Les Geeks from Lanfeust...I love those albums!)

Mike W.

Siskoid said...

I don't expect to make investments so I'll go with my collection (mostly, at least), and if I were to ever do album-by-album I would feel the need to only cover complete collections. My collection isn't that great. I have all of Tintin, perhaps 80% of Asterix, the first 10 Schtroumpfs which were all there was back then. Pretty good chunk of Valerian. That's about as "complete" as it gets.

The posts may have anything from Rahan to Boule & Bill, Achille Talon to Buck Danny, Philémon to Bob Morane, in addition to brighter lights like the young reporter from Brussels, the clever warrior from Gaul, and the bellhop with the crazy cheetah-monkey thing.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to it!

I always wished the History Channel would do an "April Fools" programming line-up, with shows like "The One Village Caesar Could Not Conquer". That would of course be a very tongue-in-cheek treatment of Asterix and Obelix, with re-enactments and readings of ancient documents ("Esteemed Senate: General Caesar is missing, a single blow from a large Gaul sent him flying out of his sandals in the direction of Rome. Have you perchance seen him?").

Roger Nowhere said...

Me and my brother were big Tintins fans back in the day. And highly enjoyed Asterix.

The Schtrumps have real good issues (specialy the firsts ones) but I prefer Jan and Tirluit. Good gun with these two.

JDJarvis said...

TinTin, Asterix, Blueberry, Metabarons, and in spirit (at least originally) Heavy Metal magazine (Metal Hurlant in France) are all french comics I enjoyed back in the day.

Anonymous said...

i had study hall in school -which is better then homework-which should be outlawed-except journalism-natch- and it was german class i read german comics to identify worlds-balloon is spelled ballon

SallyP said...

I forgot about Corto Maltese, but those are beautifully done as well.

 

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