Comic Book: Spirou and Fantasio
Spirou (left) and Fantasio (right), with the Marsupilami and Spip the squirrel. Spirou et Fantasio
(Spirou and Fantasio
) is one of the most successful Belgian comic book
adventure series, spawning various spin-off series and an Animated Adaptation
Spirou is an intrepid hotel groom/reporter working for Le Moustique/Le Journal de Spirou/freelance. With his wacky/Comically Serious
/now wacky again sidekick Fantasio and his pet squirrel Spip, he has many adventures over the globe, fighting Mad Scientists
and evil dictators, but also doing a fair bit of actual reporting on the side (Take That
This series has the distinction of being one the few "work for hire" franchises of Franco-Belgian comics (most of them are owned by their initial creators or their estate). As such, various authors worked on the main series over the years:
- Robert "Rob-Vel" Velter was commissionned to create the Spirou character to headline the new eponymous weekly "Le Journal de Spirou" magazine. He wrote and drew Spirou's adventures from 1938 to 1943, after which the war prevented him from continuing; his publisher bought the rights to the series and has had various creative teams work on it ever since. These adventures have never been reprinted and are mainly known for the introduction of Spirou's pet squirrel Spip.
- Joseph "Jijé" Gillain (already a well-known veteran, now mostly remembered for drawing the Western series Jerry Spring) then took over the series (as well as a lot of publisher Dupuis's strips). He introduced Fantasio, whose garish costumes and gaffes made the perfect wacky Sidekick. Overwhelmed by having to handle too many series at once, he gave most of them to the care of various young artists he had groomed for that purpose.
- Andre Franquin took over Spirou et Fantasio around 1948 (though Jijé did a few stories after the formal switchover). He is credited for creating the most well-known parts of the Spirou universe, including Champignac, the Marsupilami, Zorglub and Gaston Lagaffe. At the end of Franquin's run, the series received the input of Michel "Greg" Regnier for plots, grounding Spirou's adventures in a more realistic geopolitical context. By the beginning of the '70s, Franquin grew bored of the character and left the series (though he kept the rights of a few of his creations, including the Marsupilami and Gaston Lagaffe).
- Young artist Jean-Claude Fournier then took over the series, updating slightly the look of the characters and giving the characters a more militant outlook.
- In the 80s, publisher Dupuis found Fournier too slow and started looking into other creative teams, with three of them working at the same time. Nicolas Broca & Raoul Cauvin's contribution (three albums) were quickly abandoned], as well as Yves Chaland's retro take, in favor of Philippe "Tome" Vandevelde & Jean-Richard "Janry" Geurts. They reached a commercial and critical success by updating Franquin's tradition, often with a slightly Darker and Edgier mood. They also launched the spin-off series  (about Spirou's youth), which took a lot of their time: after a failed "realistic" relaunch, they left the main series.
- In the 2000s, Dupuis gave care of the main series to Jean-David Morvan and José-Luis Munuera, who tried including elements from each of the previous authors' runs; the lackluster sales meant they were given the boot after only four albums.
- A series of out of continuity one-shots written and drawn by different artists (Le Spirou de...) started in 2006. Five have been published as of 2009, the more notable being Spirou, journal d'un ingénu, an alternative origin story by Émile Bravo in which Spirou is a young hotel groom in 1939.
The magazine this series was created for, now titled Spirou
, is still being published nowadays
. It is now a weekly anthology
of various comedy series, as well as serializing various adventure series of Dupuis's catalogue. Throughout the '90s and 2000s, its eponymous series barely appeared in it (due to frequent Schedule Slip
), though Le Petit Spirou
remained a regular presence. This changed with the one-shots, which have been published at thrice the rhythm of the main series so far.
Spirou and Fantasion provides examples of the following tropes: