Comics heroes Tintin, Spirou and Asterix: Je suis Charlie

Je Suis Charlie JCD light

I am lucky guy because I grew up in a land of freedom, a country where men decided to free themselves in 1789 with the French Revolution and chose to write the Human Rights declaration.
However when I was a young kid, it was still a country with some degree of censorship and restricted rights for women. There was a public organization whose job was to watch over youth publication and apply censorship if needed. And a newspaper could be shut down or a TV show canceled on a single call from the Ministry of Information ;
And at that time, women who wanted to apply for a job, still needed to get a written authorization from their husband.

There were very few TV programs for kids, except on Thursday, the day off at school.
Comics were our primary home entertainment, with 3 main magazines ‘Le Journal de Tintin’, ‘Spirou’ and’ Pilote’ with its emblematic character, Asterix le Gaulois, who featured exactly French spirit: a nation divided in as many opinions than citizens, but able to talk with a single voice when it needs to.

In Pilote weekly magazine, there was another character we all loved. Le Grand Duduche created by Cabu was a lazy irreverent high school student… like us. He used to wear jeans and basketball shoes. Like us ! He also had long hairs. Like us ! He was an antimilitarist, like us and any youngster in the 70’s. And he hated overall human stupidity combined with vulgarity from people full of certainty that always hit you with their truth.
In the 70’s, underground magazines were also banned (well I suppose they wouldn’t be called underground otherwise). So, we used to go directly at one of the author’s home, to secretly buy ‘sous la couverture’ L’Echo des Savanes, the first comic magazine for adults, who exuded its toilet humor. Not that we loved toilet humor, but since these magazines were forbidden, this type of humor had the taste of freedom for us.

At that time Hara Kiri, the predecessor to Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, which prided himself to be ‘bête et méchant’ (stupid and bad), was shut down for its irreverent cover (‘Bal tragique à Colombey’) when General de Gaulle died. But the whole staff of the satirical newspaper decided it should be born again, under the name “Charlie Hebdo”, in a ironic reference to the General.
This weekly newspaper used to blast every form of order, among which 3 main pillars as favorite targets: Justice, Religion and Republican order (Soldiers, cops, etc..). Cabu specially loved to ridicule the army with his main character ‘Adjutant Kronenbourg’ in reference to the (awful) beer that was served in the bars of every military camp.
So, I used to smuggle Charlie in the barracks of the regiment I have been sent to, on military service, to give myself a touch of rebel.
Later on, Le Grand Duduche progressively became more a pacifist than an antimilitarist guy and turned out to be a poetic ecologist. Above all it became obvious he was a never grown-up teenager, which was one more reason for me to love him.

Little by little, after years of battle the very last remaining of censorship were banned…and Charlie Hebdo came back to a more confidential circulation, though it never gave up its satirical spirit, pointing out and blasting every dysfunction of our modern world, like a king’s fool.

All these memories were brought to the surface with the terrible terrorist attack. Like millions of citizen of this country, French people I was knocked to see one could be shot for having tried to make laugh people with a pencil and a paper. I was unable to draw for a few days, loosing all sense of humor.
I realized behind the lost of friends and companions that filled my life with instants of joy, the freedom our generation and  generations before have fought for was at stake: freedom of thoughts, freedom of expression, women rights…modern civilization!

Little by little I realized, I needed to exorcise this savagery with the comics Characters of my childhood, and started drawing Tintin, Spirou, Asterix, mourning their friend Le Grand Duduche, to claim with them ‘Je Suis Charlie.’
Then I put my pen on my desk and decided to move along.

So, I did not listen to those who told me not to mobilize for this weekly rag.
I did not listen to those who did not want to march with the National Front, or those who refused to do so with the “Red Leftists”.
I did not listen to right-thinking intellectuals, for whom the very idea of this gathering would be against Charlie’s spirit.
I refused to hear cowards advising me to avoid a dangerous place which would be a perfect target for terrorists.

No, I went walking simply because I was Charlie.
Not that I am a very avid reader: I bought it less often than I should have and they often irritated me more than they made me laugh.

No, I went walking to tell my commitment Republic key values, more specifically freedom of expression, the foundation of our democracy.
I went walking to share the sorrow of families of the victims, to express my rejection of violence and claim the terrorists I was not afraid… we all were not afraid !
I went walking to testify with 4 million people that the poison of hatred and division would not grow in France.

I went walking silently with fervor with a worthy crowd to claim to the world that nothing could ever destabilize this country because what unites it is stronger than what may divide it.
I hugged an old “harki” (muslim vet in the french army) with wet eyes, thanking him for being there. I helped my neighbor to hold up a sign ‘Je suis Hyper Casher’ (‘I am Hyper Kosher’). I met one or two famous people who came anonymously and some coquettish girls, with a pencil proudly planted in the bun. I saw, for the first time, what Freemasons in  uniform looked like. I applauded police squads with the crowd. I met friends of the victims in tears and I even found a Charlie (Waldo in french) with his red hat and his striped sweater.

Today Je suis Charlie and I hope I have written  a new page of France history with millions of people of good will.

# JeSuisCharlie

Good resolutions for 2015

Carte de Voeux Flinflins 2015 avec texteThe good thing with the rise of a new year is that you can stop for a while reviewing the past year and even take resolutions for the future. Looking in the rearview mirror,  I must admit I haven’t posted much on this blog, although the year has been intense on the drawing field with the start of my ‘Storytelling’ class on Sketchbook Skool, the new online drawing university which gathererd several thousand students and a great travel sketchbook on our trip in Norway, I am still working on.

So I kinda neglected this Flinflins blog. But the good news is I firmly intend to make up for lost time in 2015 and finalize the stock of unfinished Flinflins covers that are sleeping in my portfolio. Future will tell if I stick to my 2015 resolution.
Happy new Year !
To be continued ….

De bonnes résolutions pour 2015

Le changement d’année a cette vertu que l’on peut s’arrêter un instant pour faire un bilan de l’année passée et même arrêter des résolutions pour celle à venir. Je dois reconnaitre, en regardant dans le rétroviseur, que je n’ai pas beaucoup publié sur ce blog, bien que l’année ait été intense sur le plan du dessin avec le démarrage de mon cours ‘Storytelling’ sur Sketchbook Skool , la nouvelle université du dessin en ligne qui a accueilli plusieurs milliers d’étudiants et un carnet de voyages en Norvège qui continue de se remplir.
Du coup, j’ai un peu délaissé les Flinflins. Mais, la bonne nouvelle c’est que je compte me rattraper en mettant les bouchées doubles en 2015 pour finaliser les stock de couvertures inachevées des Flinflins qui dort dans mes cartons. L’avenir dira si j’ai bien respecté ma résolution de 2015.
Bonne année à tous !

A Suivre….

Sketchbook Skool: Storytelling with the Flinflins coming soon !

Flinflin Sketchbook Skool

You already draw but you’re missing a stimulating environment?
Or, may be you stopped drawing as a very young child, when you began to fear others’ judgment?
There is a brand good news: you can now draw alone at home, at your own pace in a vibrant online community, whether you are a beginner or an experienced sketcher thanks to SketchBook Skool, the online University’s drawing founded by Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene.
I will be hosting a class on “Storytelling” with other great artists.
And the Flinflins will join the party of course !
It starts on October 4. Don’t miss it: interactivity is incredible and emulation amazing!
See you then, maybe ?

More information on SketchbookSkool.com

Sketchbook Skool, “Storytelling” avec les Flinflins

Vous dessinez et vous rêvez d’un environnement stimulant?
Ou au contraire, vous avez arrêté de dessiner tout jeune enfant, lorsque vous avez commencé à craindre le regard des autres ?
Il y a désormais une bonne nouvelle: on peut dessiner seul dans son coin tout en faisant partie d’une communauté dynamique, à son propre rythme, que l’on soit débutant ou expérimenté avec SketchBook Skool, l’Université en ligne du dessin fondée par Danny Gregory et Koosje Koene.
J’y animerai une classe sur le “Storytelling” avec quelques autres artistes qui eux, sont talentueux.
Et les Flinflins seront de la fête, bien sûr !
Ca démarre le 4 octobre et l’interactivité et l’émulation sont incroyables !

Plus d’information sur SketchbookSkool.com

What If Tintin were part of the Great Landing in Normandy ?

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A year ago, the Flinflins toured in Normandy and visited the Landing beaches. The whole area and the museums were so impressive that the Flinflin tribe unanimously voted to add a new Flinflin cover to the saga.
A gorgeous Jeep Willy’s spotted in the lovely small museum of Arromanches would play the leading role and the wide beach of Omaha would provide the scenery. But this immediately brought a critical question. What would have done Tintin in such circumstances ? Nothing is told about this in Tintin stories, since during WWII, Herge carefully avoided every reference to the conflict. He choose to send his heroes far away on the ocean and then in Latin America to avoid any potential censorship in an occupied Belgium. I have formerly written a few words about the creative process of this cover. But what is really interesting is that, as elements were added to the sketch, the story came out of the shadow little by little.
Given Tintin’s character, no doubt, he would have been on the resistant’s side. Haddock would have commandeered the Karaboudjan to join the Free French Forces in England while Allan would obviously escape to rally the evil empire of Pleksy Gladz.
Szut, the esthonian aircraft pilot would have volunteered to enroll in the Russian Air Force and would be dispatched in Normandy with a support squadron.
While Professor Calculus, deaf as a post would seem indifferent to what happens. As ever….
What’s interesting is that hough I thought the drawing was finished, I did not inked it right away and the drawing stayed unachieved in my cardboard for quite a while. I think my subconcious was telling me something important was missing.

It is only 9 months later that I realized the drawing was missing a crucial piece. Colonel Sponz was obviously commanding the occupying forces of Plezsy-Gladz in this area. About to be defeated, he was escaping once more. No doubt we’ll meet him again.
The minute I added it, the cover was done.

It is only 9 months later that I suddenly realized I had obviously forgotten Colonel Sponz. Defeated commander of the occupation forces of Plezsy-Gladz in this area, he was once again on the verge of escaping. No doubt we will meet him again soon.
The minute I added him, the coverage was done!
The drama was finally completed.

Et si Tintin avait pris part au Grand Débarquement ?
Il y a un an, les Flinflins ont fait une virée en Normandie pour visiter les plages du Débarquement. La region et les musées les ont tellement impressionés que la tribu Flinflin à voté à l’unanimité dl’ajout d’une nouvelle couverture leur saga.
Une magnifique Jeep Willys repérée dans le charmant petit musée d’Arromanches y jouerait le rôle principal tandis que la grande plage d’Omaha fournirait le décor.
Ce qui amène inéluctablement une question cruciale. Qu’aurait fait Tintin dans de telles circonstances? Rien n’est dit à ce sujet dans les histoires de Tintin, puisque, comme chacun sait, pendant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, Hergé a soigneusement évité toute référence au conflit et choisi d’envoyer ses héros loin sur les océans, puis en Amérique latine afin d’éviter toute censure potentielle dans une Belgique occupée.
J’ai déjà écrit quelques mots sur le processus créatif de cette couverture. Mais le plus intéressant, c’est qua fur et à mesure que les differents élements ont été ajoutés à l’esquisse, l’histoire, peu à peu, est sortie d’elle meme de l’ombre.
Compte tenu du caractère de Tintin, il ne fait aucun doute qu’il aurait du côté de la résistante. Haddock aurait réquisitionné le Karaboudjan à rejoindre les Forces françaises libres en Angleterre tandis que Allan serait évidemment échapper à rallier l’empire du mal de Pleksy Gladz.
Szut, le pilote d’avion Estonien se serait pour sa part porté volontaire pour s’enroler dans l’armée de l’air russe pour être détaché ensuite en Normandie avec un escadron de soutien.
Le professeur Tournesol, pour sa part, sourd comme un pot, semble indifférent à ce qui se passe. Comme toujours ….
Ce qui est intéressant, c’est qu’alors que je pensais le dessin terminé, je n’ai pas voulu l’encrer tout de suite et il est resté inachevé dans mon carton assez longtemps. Je pense que mon subconscient me soufflait que quelque chose manquait.

Ce n’est que 9 mois plus tard que j’ai subitement réalisé que j’avais évidemment oublié le Colonel Sponz, commandant des forces d’occupation de Plezsy-Gladz. dans cette zone. Vaincu, il était une fois de plus sur le point de s’échapper. Nul doute que nous allons le revoir prochainement.
A la minute où je l’ai ajouté, la couverture était faite !
L’intensité dramatique était enfin là.
(A suivre…)