According to a report by Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool (which I haven’t been able to corroborate at the Fantagraphics website yet), Fantagraphics is planning to publish an English translation of the classic BD series Gil Jourdan by Maurice Tillieux. Some online sllers are indeed listing Murder by High Tide in the series Gil Jordan, Private Eye as announced for June, 2011. Which is amazing news.
Gil Jourdan is one of the most essential BD series ever produced. It was created in 1956 by Belgian writer and artist Maurice Tillieux for the notable comic magazine Spirou and ran until its creator’s death in 1978. The series dealt with the continuing adventures of a private detective (a “candidate at law”), his silly and ex-con sidekick and most intelligent and sarcastic secretary, along with their reluctant ally – pretty straightforward stories with a good dose of suspense and humour, and still as entertaining after several decades as a good Maigret novel.
Tillieux’s genius, however, was that he took the medium of comics a little further, and merged two genres that were completely distinct up to that point. From his stablemates at Dupuis, people like André Franquin, Jijé and Morris, he took the dynamism and sheer velocity that they infused in their art. That he combined with the realistic and well-wrought plots that had been the strict domain of the so-called realistic comic. No robots on the prowl or mad scientists for Jourdan, but rather ordinary people committing ordinary crimes. He also brought some realistic grittiness to his art, without abandoning its funny confines. Whereas Tintin lived in a nondescript apartment building in a rather featureless city, Gil Jourdan typically strolls around the back alleys of a 1950′s Paris, with derelict buildings, in which crooked people live crooked lives. Tillieux managed to inject a sense of realism in his comics that was quite rare in BD at that time. After him, people like Gos, Walthéry or Wasterlain would benefit from his example.
The book that’s being listed for release in June is not the first in the series, but rather the third long story, La voiture immergée from 1958. It was Jourdan’s first adventure that took him beyond the boundaries of the 1950′s city. By this time, however, Tillieux has established the world he’s writing and drawing, and its constellation of characters, and his narratives had become flawless. In this respect, it is the perfect book to get acquainted with this graphic genius, whose stories, in terms of timing and speed, every aspiring comics writer should read and study.
Since the listing describes the book as having 96 pages, I think Fantagraphics will also include a few of the short stories that Tillieux created to fill the gap in Spirou when he didn’t have a feature story ready. I guess going straight for a translation of the excellent intégrales was a bit too much of a gamble. Still, I hope they’ll find enough of an audience to continue with gems like L’enfer de Xique-Xique, Carats en Vrac (with one of the best car chases in comics) or Les cargos du Crépuscule.
In addition to Gil Jourdan, Fantagraphics also seems to have set its eyes on Raymond Macherot‘s animal adventure series Sibylline (translated as Sybil-Anne) which was the (rather less exhuberant) continuation of Macherot’s excellent Chlorophile when he left Tintin to join Spirou. I can only hope that they also pick up the Chaminou et le Khrompire, a “funny” animal vampire story that, in my humble opinion, is simply one of the most perfect comics ever produced. Bar none.
Well, at least, this time it’s “Translation, thanks”, rather than “Translation, please“…