Bilal by himself.
Enki Bilal is a graphic artist of the French-Belgian comic books school. Born in Yugoslavia in 1951 from a Bosnian father and a Slovakian mother, he moved to France in 1960. In 1971, he started out in the world of comics by drawing political cartoons for the illustrated weekly Pilote
. After a stint at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in 1972 Pilote
published his first story, "L'Appel des Etoiles" a.k.a. "Le Bol Maudit". He then worked with the magazine Metal Hurlant
a.k.a. Heavy Metal
alongside several science fiction writers and artists, including magazine co-founders Moebius
and Philippe Druillet
He met Pierre Christin (scenarist of Valerian
) at Pilote
, and from then on the two men would collaborate on several stories: "The Cruise of Lost Souls", "Ship of Stone", "The Town that didn't exist", "The Black Order Brigade", and most famously "The Hunting Party". This seminal album, written in 1980, analyzed the systemic sclerosis of the Soviet Bloc and prophesized its imminent collapse.
It was also in 1980 that Bilal wrote and illustrated "The Carnival of Immortals", initially intended as a stand-alone album, but whose success would result in two sequels, "The Woman Trap" in 1986 and "Equator Cold" in 1993. The three albums form the Nikopol Trilogy.
On his own, he also wrote and drew The Monster's Tetralogy
, which first book anticipated somehow 9/11 in 1998... which is the publication date. Keep in mind enki bilal often takes three years to realise one single album.
While continuing to work primarily as a graphic artist and illustrator, Bilal has directed three movies, "Bunker Palace Hotel" in 1989 (a parable on the collapse of dictatorships), "Tykho Moon" in 1997, and Immortal
(based on the aforementioned "The Carnival of Immortals" and "The Woman Trap") in 2004.
As a bit of trivia, it's been theorised that Viral
from Gurren Lagann
was named after him - "Bilal" and "Viral" would be pronounced the same in Japanese, Viral pilots a mecha called the Enki, and his Leitmotif
is called "Nikopol".
Bilal's works contain examples of the following tropes:
- Badass Grandpa: The heroes and the villains of "The Black Order Brigade".
- Bittersweet Ending
- Blood Sport: A homicidal version of ice hockey in "The Carnival of Immortals".
- BodySnatcher: horus in the "The Carnival of Immortals"...even a case of BodySurf until he finds Nkopol as a suitable host (which means one who can bare his possession without his brains explodind after a few hours). happens again in the sequel.
- Defictionalization: In "Equator Cold", Bilal invented a sport called Chess Boxing. It now exists in Real Life.
- Human Popsicle: Alcide Nikopol, the main character of "The Carnival of Immortals" and "Equator Cold", was an astronaut who spent 30 years in cryogenic sleep and comes back to Earth as a Fish Out of Temporal Water.
- Physical God: "The Carnival of Immortals" depicts the gods of the Egyptian pantheon, and Horus in particular, as physical beings.
- Used Future: Bilal's more futuristic stories take place in a dilapidated setting.
- Warsaw Pact: "The Hunting Party" is about an informal get-together of high-ranking officials from various Soviet satellites, and their bitter realization that the political system they have worked for all their lives is rotten to the core.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The characters of "The Black Order Brigade".
- World Half Empty