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Showing posts with label Francis Bergèse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Francis Bergèse. Show all posts

Feb 9, 2009

CineBook - Biggles Recounts | Rugger Boys | 2007

Distributor in India: West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 48 | Laminated/HardCover

Thanks to all the Comikers who travelled with us back in time to re-live the yesteryear Tamil Comics, Thigil, in our last post, and chose to leave their valuable comments.  My replies to the same could be found at the end of the post.  No surprises, that old comics review would be an integral part in our future posts. But for now, we are back to our favourite CineBook instalments, as we will be looking into two more sets from their famed batch release in India last year.

Biggles First up the order will be a known hero for Comicologists, the famous British Novels, Biggles, who was brought in comic format through one of the  famed Franco-Belgian genre creators Francis Bergese.  If you had been following Comicology regularly (which I am sure you would), then you would recall that we covered an exclusive post on the Biggles Indian debut through Euro Books.  If you had not read it yet, now is a good time, as I have updated that post, to make it in line with the Comicology’s trend of detailing the creators behind the series, and a complete account of the originals; a concept which was originally pioneered at Comicology, and now being followed by fellow comics bloggers.  So in many ways, the update to the earlier post is a bonus for this post.

Biggles Recounts 1: The Falklands War
ISBN: 978-1-905460-22-9
Biggles Recount 01 Cover1
BR 1: BackCover
Size: A4 | Published: 2007
Biggles Recount 01 Cover2

Biggles Recounts is a new French series, which is different from its predecessor Biggles series, by the way that except the title, the storyline doesn’t always revolve around the main character Biggles.  The series is more like a self account of Biggles, during the real historical events which has happened through the World Wars which shaped the world as we see it today.  Since the Biggles character is fictional, the writers have the flexibility of basing him in every historical incidents, thus it is narrated as if Biggles had experienced the events from a first person point view.

So, if you had been expecting Biggles adventurous series, then you have to take a reality check, before browsing through these historical archives, delivered in graphical format.   Since the impact of W.E.Johns and Francis Bergese to the Biggles are already discussed in detail in our earlier post, we will look at the storyline and new artist/writer duo for this two set series.

The Falklands War is set in 1982, in the backdrop of the decade long conflict between Britain and Argentina, over the ownership of Falkland Islands. Deciding to make a head start over the 500 years of futile claims and negotiations, Argentina forcefully occupies the Islands.  A British task force is deputed it reclaim the island, which brews into a full blown war between the cross continent countries, with Argentine garrison finally accepting its defeat.  The war actually paved way for a testing ground for the modern weaponry of electronic warfare's, where Britain stamped its authority to the world.  Surprising even though the title says it is Biggles, the character itself doesn’t make any appearance in 48 page comic book, which takes the sheen out of this historical issue.

This was originally released in French titled Biggles raconte la bataille des Malouines in 2003.  This was a new series consisting of a team of brand new writer and artists, in the form of Bernard Asso & Joel Rideau donning the role of Writers, while the artwork was taken care by the duo of Daniel Chauvin & Marcel Uderzo (who is the older brother of Asterix creator Albert Uderzo).  None of these creators were known uniquely for their other work, so it says best about their attempt to create a pot-luck out of the Biggles brand.  I should say that even though the historical accounting is real good concept, I cannot help but noticing the fact that it was little over-used for a graphic novel format.

Biggles Recounts 2: Battle of Britain
ISBN: 978-1-905460-39-7
Biggles Recount 02 Cover1
BR 2: BackCover
Size: A4 | Published: 2007
Biggles Recount 02 Cover2

Bergese's Artwork in Biggles The second album on Biggles Recounts, is the Battle of Britain, where the story unfolds in the Spring of 1940. The Third Reich forces streamed into the north-west of France, after pushing through Sedan.  France crumbled within 35 days.  The Germans pressed their advantage and trapped the British Expeditionary Corps in a corner.  English army managed to escape back to England.  And the fate of the world was rested on the shoulders of a handful of men, the Pilots of RAF, where our fictional hero Biggles is placed in service.  The story then unfolds his team’s adventures through these war torn times, which also interlinks with the real event about the Bombing of Germany in 1943-45.

This was originally released in French titled Biggles raconte la bataille d'Angleterre in 2003. The story was again scripted by Bernard Asso, along with real historical events for which the Biggles Recount series is aimed at.  Surprisingly Francis Bergese, stepped into add his charm to the series which he revolutionized in 90’s.  I should say that his art has breathed new life into the series, which at times over-weighed by the predominant historical events.

CineBook has shown its keenness to publish the Biggles Recount series, as they have at present launched a 3rd album in UK (this time Biggles recounting the Wright Brothers from their early years; that’s sounds interesting), which is yet to reach India.  Moreover, CineBook have also started to reprint the Biggles series from 90’s, starting of with Spitfire Parade.  That and 13 other from this series have already been released in India by Euro Books.  So we might not being seeing CineBook Biggles editions over here.

Overall Biggles & CineBook seem to have got locked in for a long partnership, which is only good news for all the Biggles fans.

The next CineBook series review for this post would be Rugger Boys.  I wanted to review this long back, along with the Children Category posted earlier at Comicology.  But, this was clearly a set which I couldn’t quite fit into that sect.  It neither could make it into the more mature Winch & IR$ comics series review post at Comicology.  And since I strongly felt that this series doesn’t deserve a complete post on its own, I had to plug this in with the Biggles post over here.

I might be sounding pretty harsh about it, but the fact remains that Rugger Boys is a series which you can safely ignore from the lot delivered by CineBook.  It talks about the stories and adventures of a French Rugby team named PAC (Paillar Athletic Club), rightly subtitled as “Old Muckers”.  It showcases a bunch of rogues, dim-wits, half-minds, and their adventures, as they walk the breath and width of Europe in the name of the Rugby club.

RuggerBoys Inner ArtMake what you want out of this description text on the first title

“They’re sturdy Frenchmen, big eaters and drinkers, more physical than intellectual, more losers than winners… The Rugger Boys.  With them, readers infiltrate the heart of the cloakroom, the scrum, the clubhouse and all the nuisances you can ever dream of in your life.”

Look at the naming of some of the lead characters in this group: Lightbulb, Fat Neck, Anaesthetist, Trumpeter and Romeo.  They are also two others named Trunk and Ding-Dong, the reasons for the name are strictly “censored”.  Come-on I know there are some kids who read Comicology too :)

The series is written by Beka and comically illustrated by Poupard.  I couldn’t find much details about these creators, except a bio on the Original French publishers of the series, Bamboo’s website, for which I have them linked-to.  Explore them more, if you would like.  As for me, I will give them a miss, until they come up with some series which is worth talking about.

Rugger Boys 1:Why Are We Here Again?
ISBN: 978-1-905460-33-5 | B6 | Published: 2007 
Rugger Boys 01 Cover1

Talking about a good point, I did like Poupard’s comical sketch work, an example of which you could se right above. 

One another thing I noticed in their layout, is the top most corner art, which symbolically denotes the subject of the particular page.  The last time I remember this concept being utilised was in Ducoboo, which we discussed earlier at Comicology.

Rugger Boys 1: Why Are We Here Again

The Rugger Boys are invited to England to play some friendly games.  What’s in store for them over there is full of surprises, as they are introduced another kind of rugby.  The story travels around their exploits and their eventual return to their home.  Do they come up Triumphs is the overall subject of this instalment.

The Original edition of this book was released in French titled Les Rugbymen – On n’est pas venus pour etre la in 2006, by Bamboo.

Rugger Boys 2: A Spoonful of Style and A Tonne of Class

In Spoonful of Style, the All Blacks look for a sparring partner in order to prepare for the World Cup.  The stars of the team, Lightbulb, Fat Neck, Anaesthetist, Trumpeter and Romeo, can’t resist the call of the southern hemisphere.  The story is full of Cauliflower ears, broken noses and black eyes for which the Rugger Boys series seem to have aplenty.

The Original edition of this book was released in French titled Les Rugbymen – On va gagner avec le lard et la maniere in 2007, by Bamboo.

Overall, I should agree that there are some comical and funny moments pictured in these stories, but there is a clear over-dose of adult jokes and caricatures, which may only impress a few sects of the crowd.  It’s something which you can give a miss for sure, as they find their place in my collection only for the name sake.

It also seems Cinebook have themselves made their mind about the same, as there are no plans or announcements regarding a next issue in this series, even though the original French publishers Bamboo seem to have printed 7 albums so far on these characters.  Yeap… I agree there are some who might be liking these kind of stories too.. :)

Rugger Boys 2: A Spoonful of Style
and A Tonne of Class
ISBN: 978-1-905460-44-1 | B6 | Published: 2007
Rugger Boys 02 Cover1

And that brings us to the close of another CineBook review here at Comicology, which compared to the others which were discussed over here, should be the lowly rated instalments from the famed publishers. To improve things for better, we will take up some classic titles for our next Cinebook review, which may be of interest many Comicologists over here.  Stay tuned, to know more.

Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another post shortly (probably our Muthu Comics latest issue review, which is yet to reach my hands). Adios Amigos !

Aug 20, 2007

Euro Books - Biggles | 14 Albums | 2007

Most of the European Comic Book Heroes known to South Indians, are basically the ones introduced by Lion/Muthu Comics from Prakash Publishers.  I am no exception to the list.  What we have in-store for this article is one of those unsung heroes of the Golden Age of European Comics.

There used to be times, when the Comic Hunger was burning hot inside, and the occasional releases of Muthu/Lion and Rani Comics were turning to be pretty less then what was required.  I used to visit all the pavement book shops and second hand book stalls almost every day, trying my luck to find out the old editions with few rupees in my hand.  But even then, I was little selective about choosing only Lion, Muthu, Thigil, Rani, and occasionally Poonthalir and Ratnabala.  So, the world outside was almost unknown.

Biggles 3-in-1 Vol.1: Sky Wars
| The Wotan Sword | The Last Zeppelin |
| The 13th Tooth of the Devil |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1479-8 |
Biggles 3in1 Vol1
Biggles 3-in-1 Vol.2: Super Squadron
| Squadron Biggles | The Lost Oasis – 1 |
| The Lost Oasis – 2 |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1477-4 |
Biggles 3in1 Vol2

When Gotham Comics was launched, it gave me a chance to explore something out of this box.  But, again it was limited only to American based comic heroes, and the European Golden Period still remained a treasure unrevealed to one and all.

Recently, I chanced upon a new initiative by a global company called EuroKids International, who has forayed in the Graphic Novels in India, by introducing few books under the Euro Books brand-name.  They have two limited series editions, the first being Agastha Christies Novels in Comic form, which is not of international standards, and looks to have been aimed for the kids.  But, the other one was real surprise, a 14 title series of Biggles, starring one of the famous European Comic heroes, Bigglesworth.

Biggles 3-in-1 Vol.3: Air Adventures
| The Flight of the Wallenstein | The Yellow Swan |
| The Pirates of the South Pole |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1478-1 |
Biggles 3in1 Vol3
Biggles 3-in-1 Vol.4: Captain Courageous 
| Fire in Province - 1 | Fire in Province – 2 |
| Deadly Snow |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1476-7 |
Biggles 3in1 Vol4

W.E. JOHNS, the creator of this impressive air-pilot hero himself had served in British Air Force.  His experience in many a battles, let him drive the scenario and chracterization for the Biggles character, which were originally released as Novels.

Francis Bergese (b. 1941), a French comic creator who has unique skills of bringing the air combat of planes in comic form with all realistic details, later took up the charge to give a comic form for the Johns’ british fictional hero.

bergese Francis Bergese

It is said that Bergese, was so much interested in flying and exploring, that he once had his license suspended at the age of 17.  No wonder he eventually turned up to re-live his first-love in form of the Comics.  His first chance to draw for a comics was when Jean-Michel Charlier (famous for the Blueberry series) asked him to take the reins for Buck Danny, a series Charlier had co-founded along with Victor Hubinen.  Buck Danny being an Aviation Hero himself, gave a chance for Bergese to try his hands artistic visualisation in paper-form, which went a long way in establishing his great work later for Biggles.

Biggles Single Vol. Edition 13
Chappal Wadi |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1316-6 |
Biggles 13
Biggles Single Vol. Edition 14
Spitfire Parade |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1475-0 |

Biggles 14

The storylines are full of history, with plots developed pre and post World War scenarios, with some dealing with the treasures which went missing during the wars, which adds all the more delight to the comic fans.

Pierre Clostermann, a french flying ace himself, says this in one of his prefaces of Biggles titles:

"In England, for more than half a century, Biggles has delighted the young and old alike.  Having become the national symbol for courage, initiative, selfishness and gallantry, he travels through history and time true to himself.  Noble in his acts and motivations, Biggles can be twenty years old in 1916 in the Royal Flying Corps and twenty five years old in 1940 in the Royal Air Force.  There's nothing unusual about this - creative license is allowed in comic strips.  Francis Bergese's Scenarios, Illustration and Colours means we get to see the all the forms of flying objects you could only read on books."

Bergese artwork inside Biggles Graphic Novel - 1 
Biggles (2)
Bergese artwork inside Biggles Graphic Novel - 2
Biggles (4)

Pierre also adds this this about Francis Bergese:

"The episodes experienced by Biggles and the members of the squadron are perfectly creditable.  This authenticity is reinforced by the exceptional quality of the drawings, the precision of the planes, the combat maneuvers and the perfect reconstitution of the scenes.  With Francis Bergese's Buck Danny, we were used to drawings of airplanes, which "fly" - and the artists capable of doing this are few and far between in the world.  With the Spitfire Parade, I am more than ever a diehard fan of Francis Bergese."

Here is the complete list of Biggles titles released by EuroBooks in India (All in 2007).  All these titles were originally released in French on a year-on-year basis, which were later translated and released in UK by Red Fox as English editions.  So no wonder Euro Books has made sure that they chose from the second lot, to save them of translation duties.

# Title Story Artist Original Title (French)
1. Yellow Swan Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Le cygne jaune (1990)
2. The Pirates of the South Pole Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Les pirates du pole sud (1991)
3. Spitfire Parade Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Le bal des Spitfire (1992)
4. The Flight of the Wallenstein Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Le vol du Wallenstein (1994)
5. Squadron Biggles Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Squadron Biggles (1994)
6. The Last Zeppelin Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Le dernier Zeppelin (1995)
7. The 13th Tooth Of The Devil Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte La 13ème dent du diable (1997)
8. The Wotan Sword Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte L'épée de Wotan (1998)
9. Deadly Snow Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Neiges mortelles (1999)
10. The Lost Oasis - 1 Michel Oleffe Frank Leclercq L'oasis perdue – 1 (2000)
11. The Lost Oasis – 2 Michel Oleffe Frank Leclercq L'oasis perdue – 2 (2001)
12. Fire in Provence - 1 Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Feu sur la Provence – 1 (2003)
13. Fire in Provence - 2 Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Feu sur la Provence – 2 (2004)
14. Chappal Wadi Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Chappal Wadi (2006)

While Bergese has worked on the majority of the titles, drawn and scripted by himself, there were also sizeable titles scripted by Michel Oleffe, with Eric Loutte and Frank Leclercq donning the artist duties on and off.  But, it should be noted that they chose to base the characters layout in line with how Bergese had envisioned them previously, may be as an homage to the legendary creator. 

Eventhough, the great Comic Hunters ERB and Viswa of Chennai, say that they do posses some Biggles comics of Old ages obtained from Second Hand book shops, I wasn't fortunate enough to behold them so far.   Thus far these instalments from Euro Books are the only ones which are in my collection.  I hope some other publishing company in India, dig-in and bring the other titles available of this unsung hero from Franco Belgian Era.  Overall, Biggles series seems to be one for the collectors and comics fans, and thanks to EuroKids for bringing this hero to limelight in India. 

Unfortunately, the Euro Book site doesn't have any information about these books, so the best way to get them would be to reach the chain bookstore like Landmark, Odyssey, or Higginbothams.  Each of the 14 Titles run a lengthy 48 pages, and the are priced at INR 199.  They also have 4 Hard-Bound Compilations containing 3 stories each priced at INR 450/-. The remaining two editions has to be picked from the singles lot. A Little heavily priced, but compared to their original European price, and the quality of the papers and binding, its a good buy, and a good addition to your classic collection.  If you are interested in exploring further, The complete list of Biggles, could be found here.

As always, please leave your comments about this article down below, which will keep me going.

UPDATE (02/09): A new post which reviews the latest Biggles titles released by UK based CineBook, and available in India, is published at Comicology.  Read that over here.


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