Comic Book: Ach!lle Talon
Hop !Achille Talon
is a Belgian comic created in 1963 by Michel Regnier a.k.a. Michel Greg in Pilote magazine. Originally one-page gags, it turned quickly to two-page gags before becoming complete 62-page adventures in 1974, and continued until its creator died
The character is an Homage
to Monsieur Poche
, a pretentious bourgeois created by Alain Saint-Ogan who's reputed to have created the ligne claire
style and whom Greg was such a big fan of that he remade his star characters Zig et Puce
just to give some royalties to the poor old master.
Achille Talon, according his author, "knows everything and improvises the rest of it. Apart of this, he's generous, petty, pacifist, aggressive, progressist, bourgeois, selfless, jealous, intrepid and a bit of a coward. In sum, honest and brave just like you and me..."
The comic book was translated for different markets in the 80's and published in English under the title Walter Melon
with little success, as it was so specifically French by its main character and its language. Readers hardly understood Talon's favorite interjections, "hop !" and "bof..." which simply express positive/negative moods.
Received a short-lived Animated Adaptation
that aired on ABC Family (back when it was FOX Family)note
where Achille Talon is renamed "Walter Melon" and works as a "hero for hire" with his hapless sidekick, Bitterbug. Together, the duo step in for the hero and sidekick in parodies of popular movies, TV shows, works of literature, and, in its second season (which aired in other countries save the United States of America), historical stories. The show also had a woman named Amelia, who often played the love interest/female sidekick/Femme Fatale
/token female character, and a Joker-esque clown named Sneero, who played the villain.
Achille Talon provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Alcoholic: Achille Talon's father is one, but this is strictly Played for Laughs. He's remarkably good at holding his liquor.
- All Crimes Are Equal: In the end of l'Âge ingrat, Grelot is arrested by the cop, just after his car exploded, for "scattering debris on the public way, unpleasant behavior, setting a bad example to the younger generation, and, I'd almost forgotten, kidnapping !"
- The Alleged Car: Achille Talon drives a sputtering old jalopy which, as it turns out, is a real car, the 1903 Achilles.
- Artistic License – Geology: for fun. Tutanémipartou sand + Dontgo-Zisway volcano dust = BOOM + madness smoke.
- Art Shift: One page was drawn in a child-like style, the in-story explanation being that it was actually the work of the author's kid. On another occasion, Greg parodied the flamboyantly psychedelic style of Philippe Druillet.
- Author Tract: L'Archipel de Sanzunron was initially ordered to illustrate a bank's newsletter, and as such is a pamphlet about the wonders of capitalism in general and banking in particular.
- Artistic Licence Biology: Pétard (the duck) is always identified as some kind of bird, but never the right one. The prize goes to the guy who corrects his acolyte with "a toucan is not an amphibian but a cetacean".
- Ask a Stupid Question...:
Lefuneste (on a stepladder, wearing paint-spattered-clothing, holding a paint roller): Yes, Talon! I am indeed painting my ceiling! Anyone other than you, on observing the pose I am in, would immediately have jumped to the conclusion that I was furiously engaged in shelling green peas!
- Astro Turfing: "Yes, thank you Lefuneste. I know you were hired to applaud vigorously during my conference, and, honest man that you are, want to earn your salary, but I'd like to begin the conference now!" (Lefuneste is the only guy in the audience.)
- Balloonacy: Achille Talon's father escapes annoying cops by blowing into a breathalyzer balloon until it becomes an improvised blimp and he takes off with it.
- Berserk Button: Papa Talon losing his beer.
- Big Applesauce: In the album L'appeau d'Ephèse (it's a pun; "ça coûte la peau des fesses" (litterally "it costs the skin of the buttocks") means "it's hugely expensive" in French). Greg lived in the USA for a long time and even worked as writer for TV Shows such as The Love Boat. Talon Sr. serves one of his most beautiful sentences in front of the "Megacash Museum" where he can't go in since it's the night: "I was once more forgetting that, in this retrograde country, clocks ignore that in good French it's actually tomorrow morning."
- Big Eater: Charlier, the other editor of Pilote magazine. Supposedly an actual trait, here flanderized as always having a three-foot-long sandwich in hand.
- Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Achille Talon once forced himself to ingest a dish made from all the most potent spices in the world, just so he could belch out the lethal digestion gasses right in Lefuneste's face.
- Blueblood: The marquise Virgule de Guillemets, Achille's (platonic) fiancee.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: In order to fly to Polynesia on short notice and on a shoestring in Le Grain de la folie, Lefuneste and Major Lafrime hire a veteran German WW1 pilot, who gets them there onboard his vintage triplane which keeps losing bits while in flight. Amazingly, the obsolete aircraft handily wins a dogfight against a modern jet fighter on the way.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Achille Talon is probably the most egregious offender in all French-Belgian comics. See Medium Awareness.
- Butt Monkey: Achille and Lefuneste. Usually to each other.
- Captain Ersatz: What the Animated Adaptation was all about.
- The Cavalry: Shows up on time to save the day in La Main du serpent, something the Genre Savvy Achille matter-of-factly hangs a lampshade on.
- Character Development: Most noticeable with Lafrime, who started out as a Stock Character (the Old Soldier who never stops talking about his time in the army) and became a useful ally later on.
- Cliff Hanger: Copiously lampshaded at the end of many a page in the longer stories, and sometimes even played straight.
- Cool vs. Awesome: An early strip mentions a "Charlie Chaplin versus Tarzan" movie from 1928 ("Ah, more recent than usual").
- Da Editor: Goscinny. Albeit one who is happy to use axes and sledgehammers to reprimand late authors.
- Darkest Africa: Lampshaded in Le coquin de sort (and somehow parodies Tintin in the Congo). All inhabitants of Doduduba ("Fatinbottom") speak in absolutely perfect French and the primitive bush village where everybody walks around half-naked with spears has a big contract with a pet food canning plant in Chicago.
- Depraved Dentist
- Eagleland: Mostly Type 2s.
- Easy Amnesia: Colorado Jules in Le trésor de Virgule. Got a Tap on the Head that made him forget only a part of the information about the treasure. Immediately parodied by Virgule who argues him and tells him he's "of bad faith".
- Everyone Chasing You: sometimes when Talon was too sure of himself.
- Expy: Saint-Ogan's Monsieur Poche◊.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Zôtrland is one to Imperial Germany in the album Le Roi des Zôtres
- Flowery Insults: Achille and Lefuneste often try to outdo one another in that regard.
- French Maid: Subverted; Virgule's maid Hécatombe is a huge woman built like a professional wrestler and anchor arm tattoos... in the requisite maid outfit.
- Friendly Enemy: Talon and his neighbour Hilarion Lefuneste. Always calls him cuistre (prig) but they're inseparable. Especially when they're fighting each other.
- Funny Background Event: It would be actually easier to list panels that don't have at least one funny event appearing in the background. Expect also any apparatus to contain overly complicated contraptions or unnecessary appendages, like faucets on brass instruments.
- Gag Nose: Lampshaded when Lefuneste making fun of Achille Talon's nose ends up having the latter hired to play the title character in Cyrano de Bergerac.
- Gargle Blaster: Tapasambal's cactus juice.
- General Ripper: Samuel Surrender, the commanding officer of the US garrison in Le Grain de la folie is obsessed by the Yellow Peril.
- Genre Savvy: In La Main du serpent, Achille Talon correctly surmises that the other survivors of the submarine wreck were scattered by the storm. In fact, as another character observes, there was no storm. But Achille Talon replies that in adventure stories, there is always a storm—and so there was one.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Rue de Manconne" seems perfectly innocent until you read it out loud, at which point it translates to "(she's) fuckin' stupid".
- Naughty tentacles are invoked in a simile.
- "L'Etang Tacule" is a spoonerism for "The state screws you in the ass".
- A very subtle (and intranslatable) one in "La main du serpent", when a doctor mentions that the "main-soeur" obsession (main-soeur means "sister hand", but also sounds like minceur, or thinness) strikes fat people as well as single people.
- GIFT: A notable pre-internet version: Achille sets up a radio in his house, and is soon conversing with a lama somewhere in Tibet. He accidentally insults him, and the dialogue becomes increasingly heated, with the lama using Ad Hominem attacks he should have no way of knowing. Achille storms out, and suddenly hears the lama's coming from Lefuneste's house. Figuring he also had a radio setup and can overhear them, he goes in... and sees Lefuneste insulting him through the radio.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Often.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Pétard the duck wears a black beret and nothing else.
- Hazmat Suit: Poursan had one ready for the Snake's Hand radiations.
- Hilarity Ensues: Every time Talon tries to take an initiative.
- Housewife: Maman Talon subverts this, in that she's quite happy with merely keeping the house running, but it quite able to go Action Girl as needs be. In fact, her first appearance was of her fixing her motorcycle in the garage, a characterisation that didn't make it because of how hard it was to draw.
- Hurricane of Puns: And it never stops. The title character himself is a pun (from Achilles' Heel).
- Hypocritical Humor: The aforementioned General Ripper gave us the little gem "if there's something I hate more than the Chinese, it's racism."
- Impossible Thief: Toussaint Glainglin.
- In Name Only: The obscure Animated Adaptation from the late '90s starred Achille (under his English name, Walter Melon) as a "hero for hire" who substituted for various action hero expies.
- Intimidating Revenue Service: The plot of Ne rêvons pas is set in motion by the visit at Achille's place of a persnickety tax assessor. In a subversion of the trope, Achille's father, acting as his tax advisor, turns the tables on the assessor and assails him with a mountain of paperwork.
- Intoxication Ensues: Inverted. Lefuneste once claimed to have embraced the hippy counterculture and offered Achille Talon a spliff. Achille angrily turned it down at first, but smoked it when he thought nobody was looking, and had a hallucinatory trip. At which point Lefuneste, back to his normal self, told him it was a joke and the "spliff" contained no mood-altering substance whatsoever—Achille's high was entirely self-induced.
- In another, Achille burns some old wood he found in the attic brought back by an ancestor who traveled to India. The entire neighborhood gets high on cannabis fumes.
- Latin Land: Platopabo ("Uglyplateau") in the album Le trésor de Virgule published in English as Magnesia's Treasure.
- Lethal Chef: Talon almost assassinated Lefuneste with his "boyscout recipe" for breakfast: the bread soup aux morchella with chocolate. Including onions browned in orange juice and a bechamel sauce.
- Some of Papa Talon's recipes, brought back from his more exotic travels.
- Limited Wardrobe: Achille Talon and all other characters always dress in identical outfits.
- Longer-Than-Life Sentence: In Le Grain de la folie Achille Talon expects being sentenced to 745 years (with mitigating circumstances) for breaking in Surrender's base.
- Loyal Animal Companion: Pétard, Achille Talon's pet duck. Originally given as an ill-thought-out thank-you present, Talon resented it as such, but he eventually warmed to it.
- Mad Scientist: Dr Grelot and his three 600-year-old guinea pigs for the longevity experiment. The gag is that the victims of the experience (involving the removal of a gland in their brains that makes them long-lived)... go mad.
- Mama Bear: Don't cross Achille's mother. She may look like a sweet old lady, but she packs a mean punch.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Invoked in "La Main du Serpent", where it is never made clear whether the improbable actions of the titular hand were always due to the fakir's power of suggestion or to its cursed status. Achille chooses to believe the latter while the fakir confirms the former to Lefuneste.
- Mean Boss: René Goscinny (the creator of Astérix) is depicted as a perpetually angry, short and violence-prone editor-in-chief.
- Meddlesome Patrolman: Agent Dussiflet or his peers get to slap a fine on Achille Talon, or drag him in handcuffs to the local police precinct, on more than one occasion.
- They often try to catch Papa Talon driving or walking around drunk.
- Medium Awareness: Achille knows it often perfectly.
- Even giving conferences on the art of being a comic-book character.
- Multiple Reference Pun: Greg was an absolute master of it. One of his best examples is when Major Lafrime mobilizes his friends to put Talon into the election run and orders "colonne par cinq pour l'information" for launching a campaign. It makes a triple sense:
- Soldiers are ordered to be "en colonne par cinq" (line up five abreast) in the army;
- Cinq colonnes à la une (headline splashed across the front page) was a famous French information TV show in the 60's;
- The "5th column" was the term for enemy spying during the war.
- New Job as the Plot Demands: Vincent Poursan works in/owns many different stores, selling anything relevant to the plot.
- Nightmare Dreams: What if the bad guy can provoke them to manipulate his victims?
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: In Le Monstre de l'Etang Tacule, a cartoonist draws grotesque and nightmare-inducing cartoons, but he claims that his drawings are a faithful representation of reality.
- No More for Me: Papa Talon, once. Just once. Beer is a serious thing.
- The Napoleon: A caricature of René Goscinny, portrayed as the irascible midget-boss of Polite (!) magazine where Achille Talon works. As for Napoleon, many fans thought then that Goscinny was tiny. It could be as well an Homage to Goscinny's character Iznogoud.
- Old Soldier: Major Hector Lafrime.
- Only Sane Man: Fo-Pli.
- Our Gargoyles Rock: Gargouilla-la-gargouille in L'âge ingrat.
- Overly Polite Pals: In one comic, both continuously insist the other go first, but here the stalemate goes on until they're both late, leading to a Big Ball of Violence. Amusingly, this came about after Achille read a book on etiquette, and it turns out the other guy was the author.
- Papa Wolf: Papa Talon. Keeps an eye opened and a beer with the other.
- Perpetual Poverty: Several gags make Pilote out to be worse than struggling ("We've had two new subscribers this year, doubling our customer base").
- Police Are Useless: Greg didn't like them and projected a part of himself in Papa Talon who keeps a flag of the "Wild Anarchists Federation" in the attic.
"Of course they're here. The bad guy is defeated and we're not pressing charges. Being perfectly useless, it is only logical that the police show up."
- Punny Name: Does a character have a name? Then it's a pun: Achille Talon (Achilles Heel), Hilarion Lefuneste (hilarious the fatal/disastrous), Séraphin Dumonde (it's the end of the world), Hector Pedeau the auto mechanic (Torpedo, a kind of car), Doctor Fo-Pli (crease)... Talon even lives on the corner of the Rue Tilante (shiny) and l'Avenue Dumessie (the Coming of the Messiah).
- Recycled IN SPACE!: In L'esprit d'Eloi, Rheingard Van Daag's project is to shoot "Dracula In Space", in a forest.
- Ring Ring Crunch: In La Traversée du Disert, Achille Talon tries to get an annoying transistor radio to shut up by smashing it against a rock (all it does is change the station) and feeding the pieces to his pet duck. Unfortunately, the radio keeps working from inside the duck's belly. And at the beginning of Viva Papa!, Lefuneste gets his alarm clock to stop by striking it with a hammer.
- Running Gag: A common gag is to have Achille spend nearly two pages explaining various dirty tricks comic book editors use to fill pages, such as large empty spaces, or consisting of single blocks of color (the lowest point of a mine at midnight, a polar bear blinking in a snowstorm, the Sahara, etc.), ending with a bloodthirtsy Goscinny running after Talon with every intention of removing his head.
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: L'esprit d'Eloi (A pun on Montesquieu's "The spirit of the laws"), where the ghost is trying to scare off the owner of uranium-rich terrain.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The trademark of the comics. Lampshaded when an accountant complains to Achille Talon that the translation fees for his comics are double the usual rate.
- Shout-Out: Many, staring with Achille himself being a Shout-Out to Monsieur Poche. Greg was at least as cultured as Achille. There are also references to comics authors such as Floyd Gottfredson, Al Taliaferro, Hergé, Gotlib, Lee Fark...
- Sim Sim Salabim: Subverted with the Nayghorjo-ray ("Nosethroatear") in La main du serpent. It's a modern country using submarines and a computer-selected crew for their operations... and a fakir.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Achille and Lefuneste.
- Slipping a Mickey: In Le Grain de la folie.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Achille, naturally. It's lampshaded multiple times, but building a giant statue of himself in his garden probably takes the cake.
- Stealth Pun
- Stereotypes of Chinese People: Averted with Professor Fo-Pli ("crease"). Speaks perfect French, huge specialist in chemistry and geology, wears occidental outfit and quotes things such like "The wise man, and a few others before him, peremptorily told it: "better a little drawing than a long speech", and the television executives added: "and it doesn't cost any more"."
- Spexico: Tapasambal ("T'as pas cent balles ?" = "You got ten bucks ?") in the album Viva Papa.
- Strawman Political: The Communist-in-all-but-name leader of the opposition party in Viva Papa, who speaks in hackneyed pseudo-Marxist cliches.
- Most politicians seen spring up and are all too ready to help at the mention of the word "voters".
- Swamps Are Evil: Le monstre de l'étang Tacule (which is both a wordplay and a spoonerism).
- Take That: In Docteur Chacal et Mister Bide (a pastiche of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as the title suggests), Talon spends a whole page mocking a critic who said of every comic that it was not the best of the series.
- The police are represented as semicompetent thugs or bureaucrats. One cop finds a sidearm "reserved for the officers who passed the dictation test! A rarity!"
- Title Drop: Lampshaded in Ne revons pas!.
- Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Papa Talon actually can: "Alambic-Dieudonné-Corydon Talon -°- Former Living Witness of the Merits of the Disciplinary Batallions of Africa -°- Patented Gustator in Distillated Hops -°- Man of Taste -°- Voter and Husband."
- Use Your Head
- Visible Boom Mic: In a strip where kids watch a western on the Talons TV, one of them mentions that an overhead branch is actually the mic perch.
- Wall of Text
- We Sell Everything: Vincent Poursan, the 1000-jobs storekeeper. He knows the price of things.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: The medieval henchmen in L'Age Ingrat have second thoughts about continuing the immortality treatment, having not much to do but play cards all day and taking the occasional bath (14 in all).
- Why Won't You Die?: The radio in La Traversée du Disert.
- Word Puree Title: The name of the series is actually supposed to be spelled Ach!lle Talon.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Just about every fight has the participants make comments in a conversational tone, related to whatever weapon they're holding.
- Zero-Approval Gambit: In Le Roi des Zotres, Achille is crowned king of Zôtrland, and in order to bring political stability back to the fractious country, he connives with his elderly predecessor to make himself so unpopular that the people will topple him and welcome as a savior the legitimate (and lazy) heir to the throne.