It is a bit sad that when it comes to bande dessinee – all the (non Francophone) world at large seems to have discovered so far, is Tintin. Okay, there’s translations of quite a few other titles, with more coming out, encouragingly, but I can’t shake off the suspicion that their success largely depends on comics afficionnados who don’t speak French, and want a taste of the goodness nevertheless.
Still, 2013 will be the year par excellence to brush up your French and get acquainted by that other giant mainstay of Franco-Belgian BD, Spirou. In April of that year, it will have been 75 years since the little groom first appeared in the pages of the new magazine that bore his name, and would grow to be one of the most popular youth-oriented periodicals in the French language (currently, Spirou still sells 90,000 copies on a weekly basis). And since Spirou et Fantasio, to give the comic that he mainly appears in its full title, is regaining some of its earlier commercial and critical success, this anniversary is bound not to pass unnoticed.
First off, books. Spirou publisher Dupuis has announced for June, La Peur Du Bout Du Fil, the third in its series of reissues of classic Spirou stories, in which the comics are recoloured and combined with facsimiles of the original art. But even these glorious albums grow pale when compared to La Véritable Histoire De Spirou, a three-part monography about the history of the groom, compiled by Christelle en Bertrand Pissavy-Yvernault. The first part, covering the 1930s and early 1940s, will appear in January (well in time for Angoulême). About the same time, the vintage Spirou strips by his first creator, Rob-Vel, will be collected in newly coloured format in their own intégrale.
In march, a thorough biography of Spirou artist Jean-Michel Fournier will be published, as well as a complete collection of two hundred contributions to La Gallerie Des Illustres, a series that’s been running for five years in Spirou Magazine, and for which everybody who is everybody in French comics has created a page. About the same time Franquin et le Design by Augustin David will focus on the design of objects, interiors and furniture that Franquin created for the Spirou et Fantasio series. And last but not least, 2013 will also see the publication of La Femme-Léopard, the follow-up to Yann and Schwart’s much lauded Le Groom Vert-de-Gris.
Then, events. Starting in January, the Spirou Tour will kick off for a tour through Belgium, France and Switzerland, stopping in a different city each month, with a special edition of Spirou Magazine. Completists can already take a reservation on the April 21st issue of the magazine, which will be the official anniversary issue, to be published at a grandiose party in the Brussels Atomium. And probably a lot more.
But there are also some pretty interesting exhibitions. A first one, in the Brussels Comics Centre, will run from April until November and will focus on the early years of Spirou. A second one in Angoulême, start in June, and will collect the largest collection of original art, posters, special editions, etc. ever.
So you can expect a regular stream of posts on all things Spirou. Just let me know if it gets boring…