The Gallery

25.10.16 > 15.01.17

They are in blue and quite a pair: It’s the Bluecoats!

In 1968, Raoul Cauvin created the Bluecoats series for Salvé (Louis Salvérius), who, like him, was working for the publishing company Dupuis. The series consisted of humorous short stories accompanied by comical drawings; a genuine product made in Marcinelle. Then, in 1972, Salvé performed his worst trick ever by passing away very suddenly whilst Dupuis were in the full throes of publishing the first Bluecoats comic book.

Everything went topsy-turvy as Outlaw, the story in progress, still had to be finished as a matter of urgency, and the series that had just been compiled into its first comic book had to go on.

There was an unknown but highly gifted author living in the area around Charleroi. His name was Willy Lambil, and he was drawing a series that was both gentle and exotic in nature: Sandy et Hoppy. It was the story of a young Australian and his kangaroo; they were both inseparable. It was an enjoyable and easy reading series, but Charles Dupuis had not allowed him to publish a comic book. This now presented a real opportunity for Lambil, and by selecting him, the publishers did not have to interrupt a series that was working well.

Lambil’s style of drawing was more realistic than that of Salvé’s. That was a good thing as the story of the war of Secession was not all fun and games, and Cauvin was able to use real-life facts (sometimes even dramatic events) as inspiration to come up with the most sophisticated of scenarios. However, these stories were always spiced up with what makes up the crux of the series: the explosive exchanges between the kind and gentle Sergeant Chesterfield and the extremely stroppy Corporal Blutch, who as it happens are the best buddies in the world.

Only top series can manage a feat of 60 comic books to their name. That is the firm opinion of the 19 inspired authors, who have decided to commemorate the event with an exciting tribute comic book in which Blutch and Chesterfield are seriously reprimanded.

Naturally, the comic book cover is signed by Blutch, who owes his pseudonym to the Bluecoats. Clarke, Maltaite, Bodart, Munuera and Schwartz are the ones, who have remained the most faithful to the original drawing style of the series. Goulet, Dutto, Pau and Baba have caricaturised it in a most comical and minimalist way.  Collin, de Jongh and Frasier have adapted it to their own personal style of drawing. As for the script-writers, Chamblain, Gloris, Lapière, Lapuss’, Sti and Zidrou, it clearly shows that they have all had great fun in revisiting the series.

And throughout all of that, Lambil has been quietly drawing Carte blanche pour un bleu [Carte blanche for a Bluecoat], which is the new Bluecoats comic book. After all, a leopard cannot change its spots!

JC De la Royère, Belgian Comic Strip Center

Tags : Museum / Strip / Exhibition / Publication

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