("Red Beard") was an action-adventure French comic set in the 18th century. It followed the adventures of the adopted son of the eponymous pirate
, Eric, as he progressively quit the criminal life of his adopted family and instead became a French corsair. He was usually accompanied by his trusty acolytes, the strong Baba and the wise Triple-Pattes; Barbe-Rouge himself is often absent from the stories.
The series was created by writer Jean Michel Charlier
and artist Victor Hubinon (of Buck Danny
fame) for the launch of the Pilote
magazine; it survived that series by decades. When Hubinon died after the 18th album, Joseph "Jijé" Gillain (a noted comics veteran) and his son took over the art, until Jijé's death a few years later. The series then alternated between artists Christian Gaty and Patrice Pellerin, until Gaty definitely took over. When Charlier himself died, he was succeeded by Jean Ollivier, and then by Christian Perrissin. The series is currently on hiatus.
In France, this series is widely heralded as an adventure classic, with intricate plots and impressive historical research
. Abroad, the characters are mainly known for their spoof cameos in Astérix
(its writer, René Goscinny
, was a friend of Charlier's, and they co-founded Pilote
This series contains examples of :
- Art Shift: The transition from the clean style of Victor Hubinon to the messier style of Jijé and then Gary) was rather striking. And then there were the completely-different-looking adventures drawn by Pellerin...
- Author Existence Failure: Averted: Charlier did his best to continue the series after Hubinon and then Jijé's death. After the death of Charlier himself, the series was continued by other writers.
- Cool Ship: the various iterations of the Faucon Noir ("Black Falcon"), Barbe-Rouge's ship, are described with detailed diagrams to show how awesome they are.
- Corrupt Church: Most of the priest characters are associated with the Spanish, who are invariably bad guys. Some of the the later ones are full-blown Smug Snakes, and/or belong to the Inquisition. Their motives are always money- or power-related.
- Crazy-Prepared: Triple-Pattes hides an incredible amount of stuff in his cane and peg leg.
- Distressed Damsel: several.
- Dressing as the Enemy: a common tactic.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Eric. To the point that it sometimes exploited by the villains.
- Edited for Syndication: Some albums were slightly shortened from their original serialized version for length reasons.
- Five-Man Band: minus The Chick, as there are barely any women in the stories, and certainly not in the main cast.
- Galley Slave: happens to both Eric and Baba in the same adventure.
- Great Escape: a common plot, our protagonists being mostly criminals (or at least wanted in several countries, without counting the rival pirates).
- Morality Pet: Eric acts as this for Barbe Rouge, who was much more blood thirsty and implacable before the start of the comic. Eric rejecting his adoptive father lifestyle led Barbe Rouge to partly giving up piracy and most of his murderous ways.
- Papa Wolf: Barbe Rouge is known in-universe to be ready to get through Hell to save his adopted son Eric. Some villains use this to trap him. On the other hand, Barbe Rouge is one of the most fearsome pirate alive.
- Pirate: Duh.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Averted: Barbe-Rouge's crew do lots of real pirating, hence his nickname of "Demon of the Caraibes". On the other hand, Eric has chosen the slightly more legal job of corsair.
- Plucky Middie: The cabin boy in some of the early stories.
- The Professor: Triple-Pattes
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Barbe-Rouge's modus operandi. Minus the "rape" part, because he's (mostly) a gentleman and there was no way to get this past the censors anyway.
- Rated M for Manly
- Red Shirt Army: the pirate/corsair crews often get reduced to only the main characters at the plot progresses.
- Renaissance Man: Triple-Pattes knows a dozen languages, is an accomplished physician, and has at least cursory knowledge in most sciences
- Right Under Their Noses: A very common tactic of our heroes. Sometimes suicidal, often very, very effective.
- Scary Black Man: Baba (though mostly a Gentle Giant, at least towards Eric)
- Secondary Character Title: the actual protagonist of the series is Eric, Barbe-Rouge's adopted son. Barbe-Rouge himself is absent from half the stories.
- Skeleton Crew: the Flying Dutchman.
- Sociopathic Hero: Barbe-Rouge
- Storming the Castle: Half the stories revolve around this plot. A few of them inverted it by having our heroes as the defenders.
- Treasure Map: A few stories revolve around either those or Pirate Booty.
- Walk the Plank: mostly in early stories.
- Wooden Ships and Iron Men: the setting.