Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

Another year and another Express Event from Comic Con India. Our Pre-show coverage of the event in the Garden City.

Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

Get to know, more about India's first ever Comic-Con, how does it rate among the rest.

Chennai Book Fair - 2011

We catch up with the Annual Chennai Book Fair, and see what it has to offer for Comic fans.

Lion Comics Jumbo Special - XIII Collector's Edition

An inside look into a collection, touted as the biggest Comic Book released in India

Showing posts with label Ligne Claire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ligne Claire. Show all posts

Nov 28, 2008

CineBook - Blake & Mortimer #1-3 | 2008

West Land | Price: INR 250 | Color | Size: A4 | Laminated/HardCover

Finally, we have the much awaited review on the CineBook's Blake & Mortimer series here at Comicology, which was part of the batch of issues distributed in India by West Land, on July 2008.  It's another classic series from the Franco-Belgian comics era, a product of one of the famous European Comics visionary Edgar P. Jacobs.  It first appeared serialized in the Belgian comics magazine Tintin from 1946 (from the very first issue), and was subsequently published in book form by Lombard, due to its growing popularity.

It's story about two British men, Philip Mortimer, a Top Scientist; and Francis Blake, an Army officer, and follows their adventures through their science-fiction mixed detective investigations, even to an extent some historian legends, like the lost continent of Atlantis.  I wonder why the series wasn't named as Mortimer & Blake, as he is the main character in much of the adventures. Let's look at the background and earlier work of Edgar Jacobs, which formed a base for his famous Blake & Mortimer series, before we review the instalments from CineBook.

B&M 1: The Yellow "M"
ISBN: 978-1-905460-21-2

Black-Mortimer 01 Cover1
B&M 1: BackCover
Pages: 72 | Published: Jan 2007
Black-Mortimer 01 Cover2

Edgar P. Jacobs, was born in Brussels on March 30, 1904.  As per Jacobs he is known to have drawn from his early days of his childhood.  But, he actually made his entry in the arts through the Stage Dramas and Soap Opera's.  Despite spending much of his career on his first-choice, he never rose to a prominent role from filling up the extras.  So in 1940, he turned to his first-love full-time, by joining a magazine, and drawing for novels and tales.

The World War II gave Jacobs his first chance to draw for a famous comics script, in form of Flash Gordon, when the original American piece were banned by German forces in Belgium.  Eventhough, it lasted only for a couple of weeks, that gave him a base from which he could bring his inner urge to a proper shape, and he started working on his own take of Sci-Fi comic strip, Le Rayon U, heavily borrowing from the Flash Gordon script.

Edgar P. Jacobs

During the same time he was also working as a stage painter for Georges Prosper Remi's (known more famously for his creation TinTin under his ghost-name Hergé) TinTin adaptation into a play.  That paved the way for Remi to know about Jacob's works, and the two became good friends, which was instrumental in bringing Jacob's talents to a broader circle, when Remi hired him for recasting/restyling his earlier TinTin albums, like TinTin in the Cango, TinTin in America, etc.

Edgar Jacobs in TinTinEdgar P. Jacobs as Jacobini in
TinTin's Cigars of Pharaoh

The friendship between Remi and Jacobs grew so much, that Remi took the liberty to cast him under the fictional name of Jacobini in some of his TinTin albums, the famous being as a Mummified Egyptologist in Cigars of Pharaoh.

Due to his friendship with Remi, he was part of a team of writer and artists gathered together for a new TinTin magazine in 1946.

On his part, Jacobs wrote and drew his series Le secret de l’Espadon (The Secret of the Swordfish) for the first Tintin magazine, published on September 26, which was eventually the first series of Blake and Mortimer (B&M).

Because of its painstaking realism and plot-work, B&M was a worthy equivalent to the already established, Tintin series (which was created in 1926), from its start. But surprisingly, B&M proved more popular than the Tintin story that it accompanied and soon they were published as hardcover and softcover editions by publisher Lombard.

The success of the series, made Jacobs rethink his apprenticeship work with Hergé on his TinTin rework.  So, when Hergé declined his request to share the credit of TinTin publicly, Jacobs decided to concentrate full-time on B&M in 1947, and went on to produce eight big adventures until 1972, which all have become a classic collectors items. 

But the friendship between Hergé and Jacobs was not disturbed by this professional break-up, as they both shared respect to each others work and achievements.

Jacobs’ style and consistency, his plotting talent and his care in character-building vary greatly from one album to another.

Classic TinTin Magazine Cover with B&M
Ligne Claire as exhibited in
Ligne Claire
"Blake & Mortimer"
B&M 03

There are however many common threads between Hergé and Jacobs, such as the consistent use of Ligne claire (meaning Straight Line) drawing style, which was originally pioneered by Hergé.  Have a look at the example I picked up from TinTin and B&M, which clearly depicts the Ligne Claire at work.

It's a usage of straight line in the artwork with the same thickness, without any emphasize or shadowing on any work parts in a panel.  Style also uses strong colors, and a combination of cartoonish characters with realistic background details.

This style was heavily adopted by all the "Brussels school" artists, and that made them stand out from the other forms of artwork practiced by American and European genre.

It is a style, which is still being adopted by few artists across the globe, but not to an extent as it was utilized in 1950s, which adds a classic touch to the work of Jacobs and Hergé.

Let's come back to the Blake & Mortimer series released by CineBook with their distribution network in India in 2008.  There are 3 issues which are part of this pack, let's look at the synopsis of each of the titles, and their respective French Originals.  All these 3 issues were written and drawn by Edgar P. Jacobs himself.

1. The Yellow “M”:
(French Original: Album 6: La Marque Jaune, 1956)

A mysterious crime wave is sweeping London and nothing, from the Bank of England to the Crown Jewels, is safe. The identity of the criminal is unknown but Londoners are beginning to fear the symbol that is left at each crime scene, the Yellow “M”. Enters Philip Mortimer, and Blake to solve the mystery.

B&M 2: The Mystery of the Great Pyramid : Part 1
ISBN: 978-1-905460-37-3

Black-Mortimer 02 Cover1
B&M 2: BackCover
Pages: 56 | Published: Nov 2007

Black-Mortimer 02 Cover2

2. The Mystery of the Great Pyramid Vol.1:
(French Original: Album 4: Le Mystère de la Grande Pyramide, Tome 1, 1954)

Professor Mortimer, accompanied by the loyal Nasir, is in Cairo pursuing his study of Egyptology. With the assistance of his old friend, he deciphers some papyrus that was recently discovered.  His archaeological exploits soon turn out to be far more dangerous than he expected, as he calls on Captain Francis Blake for assistance but, as it turns out, Blake is the one truly in need of help.

3. The Mystery of the Great Pyramid Vol.2:
(French Original: Album 5: Le Mystère de la Grande Pyramide, Tome 2, 1955)

When news reaches him that Captain Blake has been assassinated by agents of Colonel Olrik at Athens Airport, Professor Mortimer vows to avenge his friend and sets out to discover the whereabouts of Olrik. Mortimer’s investigation leads him to the Great Pyramid where he begins to unravel the secrets of the Chamber of Horus, secrets that will lead him into the darkest depths of the Great Pyramid itself.

B&M 3: The Mystery of the Great Pyramid : Part 2 
ISBN: 978-1-905460-38-0

Black-Mortimer 03 Cover1
B&M 3: BackCover
Pages: 56 | Published: Jan 2008

Black-Mortimer 03 Cover2

However much I love the classic editions, Blake & Mortimer series were too slow for me, with far too much text interlaced between the artwork (one of the reasons why I took a long time to read and review this series from CineBook).

It seems to be the style of Jacobs to get his work in a style of novel, but that let's down the Comics medium which is known as a 'speaking art'.  Have a look at an example, which I picked up from the CineBook edition, The Mystery of the Great Pyramid.

The translators employed by CineBook for the English versions of B&M, should have had a real tough job to do, in working with all this text.

The famous Gilbert Gascard, (The creator of Ric Hochet, Reporter Johny for Tamil Comic Fans, and Chick Bill under the pseudonym Tibet), who served as an editor of TinTin magazine, shared the same feeling, which resulted in him taking years before reading E.P.Jacobs work in his own magazine.

But, with that said there is no denying the artwork and plots of Jacob is no lesser than any of the classics available at present.

B&M 02
An example of "Text" overshadowing the "Artwork" in B&M

CineBook have also released B&M 4: The Francis Blake Affair, in UK, which hasn't reached India yet. It's the 13th album in the series, and the first which was not written by Jacobs. I would be eager to read it when its available, to experience the new team which is handling the B&M series at present, which consists of one of my favorite writer Jean Van Hamme (XIII fame).

Edgar P. Jacobs passed away in 1987, and he was commemorated with a Sphinx on his cemetery tomb at Brussels, which is said to have a "collar beard", with a face looking lot similar to his famous character, Philip Mortimer, fittingly.

In 2004, the French and Belgian Post Offices worked together to dedicate stamps portraying Jacobs and his characters, which shows that along with him his characters were also immortalized.   For a complete list of work by Jacobs, visit this centenary memorial site, which is in French as with many other sites dedicated to Jacobs and his works, but we could still use the Google Translator, for exploring it.

Hope you enjoyed this post about the Blake and Mortimer, along with the author bio and background of the series.  If you want to experience the series, then grab the CineBook instalments, before they run out of stock.  It's worthy to be part of your classic collection, if you are a fan of them like me.

EdgarJacobs StampBlake-Mortimore Stamp   Jacobs & his characters: B & M
Immortalized on Stamps

Sep 28, 2008

CineBook - Childrens Category | 2007

Distributor in India: West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 50 | Size: A4 | Laminated/HardCover

Well it's long since we reviewed the last batch of CineBook editions released in India this year, as back-issue sale from the UK based CineBook.  Since we have a lot more issues to cover, I have gathered all the Children titles they released in this batch as a single post.  They are a bunch of unknown comic characters, we have never read or heard in India before.  The popularity of these titles also doesn't make them to be covered separately.  All the batch of comics are created in Belgium, and many of them are still being published with new titles every year.

First-up, is Ducoboo, famously termed as the 'King of Dunces', created by Zidrou and Godi in 1992.  The series follows the adventures of Ducoboo, and his mischief making acts.  It typically consists of assortment of small acts, which generally spans one or two pages.  The stories are hilariously portrayed, and Cinebook have come up with 2 volumes of Ducoboo.  Each volume depicts a full year in School with the last gag always ending up as portrayed in Summer Holidays.

When you browse through these books, you can identify that the header of each storyline will eventually be based on the plot of that particular act, depicted in few simple pictures.  That's the amount of detail Zidrou and Godi have concentrated on while making these comics.

Ducaboo 1: King of the Dunces
ISBN: 978-1-905460-15-1
Ducoboo 2: In the Corner
ISBN: 978-1-905460-26-7
Ducoboo 01 Ducoboo 02

Melusine is a story of kind-hearted young witch.  She is touted to be 119 years old, as explained in the first album.  The character and the plot was created by Clarke and Gilson in 1995.  The stories typically features short, and humorous comic strips based on the life of Melusine.  The plot sometimes seems heavily derived upon the Harry Potter series, as Melusine also studies at a Witches school.  Cinebook have released two volumes of Melusine with this batch.

Melusine 1: Hocus Pocus
ISBN: 978-1-905460-20-5
Melusine 2: Halloween
ISBN: 978-1-905460-34-2
Melusine 01 Melusine 02

Papyrus is a comic book series, written and illustrated by Lucien de Gieter.  It's about a young peasant in Ancient Egypt, called as Papyrus.  It was originally published in 1974 in the famous Spirou Magazine.  As the story takes place in Ancient Egypt, the users are taken down back in the history with the plots revolving around the famous landmarks, temples and monuments found from the original Egyptian Era.  Ramases Temple, Saqqara, the ancient Egyptian funeral complex, are all breathtakingly drawn with detailed structural explanations, while closely tying  them to the storyline of each album.  As could be construed, the Papyrus stories involves its fair share of Magics and Miracles.  Overall, a good historical comic series for children.   Again we have two volumes of Papyrus with this batch.

Papyrus 1: The Ramases' Revenge
ISBN: 978-1-905460-35-9
Papyrus 2: Imhotep's Transformation
ISBN: 978-1-905460-50-2
Papyrus 01 Papyrus 02

Yoko Tsuno is a comic book series created by Belgian writer Roger Leloup, an arden follower of Ligne Claire.  It was originally published in 1970, making it the oldest children comic series in this batch.  The story follows the adventures of Yoko Tsuno, a female electrical engineer of Japanese origin, accompanied by her friends.  They travel across the globe and even reach the outer space in this 24 volume series.  The highlight of the story is that they are based on technological concepts, with Robo Dragons, Time Travel and others; which were a thought way ahead during its initial years.  We have two volumes of Tsuno with this batch.

Yoko Tsuno 1: On the Edge of Life
ISBN: 978-1-905460-32-8
Yoko Tsuno 2: The Time Spiral
ISBN: 978-1-905460-43-4
Yoko Tsuno 01 Yoko Tsuno 02

Yakari is the most famous Children magazine character in this batch of Cinebook editions.  It is a series which was created in 1973 by Job and illustrated by Derib.  Yakari is a young Sioux Native American who has an unique ability to understand and speak animal language.  With this unique ability he meets many North American animals in his albums, by which the readers are introduced to the life and customs of these animals.  Yakari is so popular that it has so far been translated to 17 languages, from French.

Cinebook have brought 3 volumes of Yakari with this batch.  But they are not released in an order in India.  There are 5 volumes which were published by Cinebook, when these titles were available in India, but we have received only Issues 3, 4 and 5.  So, the collection is incomplete.  The series is translated in English by Erica Jeffrey for Cinebook.  She is known to Comicologists as a surprise visitor during our first Cinebook post's discussion thread.

Yakari 3: Yakari and the Beavers
ISBN: 978-1-905460-09-0
Yakari 4: Yakari and the Grizzly
ISBN: 978-1-905460-16-8
Yakari 03 Yakari 04

We also have an One volume release in this Children's batch, called Scared to Death, which is a new series created in 2000 by Mauricet & Vanholme.  The cover-art is spooky enough to foretell that the series revolves around the strange adventures of two adolescent friends, Robin and Max.  It touches upon all the fantasies, like Sorcery, Werewolves, Ghosts, etc. but somehow the storylines aren't gripping enough.  Maybe because the target audience is Children's again :).

Yakari 5: Yakari and the Stranger
ISBN: 978-1-905460-27-4
Scared to Death 1: The Vampire from the Marshes
ISBN: 978-1-905460-47-2
Yakari 05 Scared to Death 01

Well these titles may not be of the interest to many of us, but as a fan to the Franco-Belgian comics era, I wouldn't leave them up from my collection, when they are available right at our doorstep.

As always, do post your comments and let me know what you think of this different post category.  Next up on the Cinebook reviews, we would jump to the serious titles aimed for grown up audience.  Well, now we are talking.


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