When Spirou was created by Rob-Vel, he was a rather blank and anonymous character. And even though Franquin later expanded his personality and gave him a human dimension, he still lacks a true psychology. ... I had so many questions: Why does he wear a hotel uniform when he never works as a bellhop? Has he ever been in love? Does he have any political views? How did he and Fantasio become lifelong friends? Who is Fantasio, anyway? And Spip, who is he? How come he can think?
— Émile Bravo
This is my last post in the series that explores the origins of Spirou. The first focused on the creation of the character and the early years of the series before Franquin, while the second presented Tome & Janry's comedic versions of Spirou's childhood. I'll wrap it up with Émile Bravo's acclaimed origin story, Le journal d'un ingénu and its prequel, but first I'd like to come at it from another angle: What are the experiences that turn readers (and future comic book artists) into Spirou fans?
( Becoming a Spirou reader, and creator )
( From bellhop to globe-trotter )
( Back to the beginning )
Even after 70 years of adventures, Spirou remains a somewhat enigmatic figure.
Who is he? Where does he come from? Does he have any family, and if so, where are they?
I'll attempt to answer these questions, or at least give you the different answers various writers have offered.
In this post I present the creation of Spirou and his constant companions, Spip and Fantasio. I also show samples of what the series was like in the very early days.
( The birth of Spirou )
( Early misadventures )
( Spip and Fantasio )
In the next entries (EDIT: I originally said there'd be one more entry, but I think I'll split it in two) I will post excerpts of the various revisionist origin stories that have been told over the years, including the popular Li'l Spirou and the recent Journal d'un Ingenu.
Scans are not mine, but I did the translation. Translated the whole volume, although I doubt I'll end up distributing it to more than a few friends.
NSFW for very young jungle girl running around in a loincloth, but she's not sexualized at all despite the topic of the volume. Also some exo-boobs here and there and a little blood.
( where do babies come from? )
A lot of folks in North America have never heard of this series, even though it's been running since the 1930's over in France, and it's a total shame. European comics are fantastic, but hardly anyone scanlates them (does anyone, come to that?) because everyone and their little dog Toto is busy scanning manga to deal with a bit of French. Anyhow, the action is clear enough to know what's going on, so it's still easy enough for us anglophones to follow.
In any case, by way of setup, Spirou is an adventurer/reporter (and former bellhop, who retains elements of his original uniform) who lives with his best friend (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) Fantasio, who's similarly an adventurer/reporter. Spirou tends toward the strong sense of justice and heroism, and is also a well-trained fighter in his own right. Fantasio, by contrast, is much wackier and fun-loving, and is able to pull off rather impressive feats under duress, such as crossing a river by using crocodiles as stepping-stones, and so forth. The third member of the team is Spip, Spirou's pet squirrel, who has rather cynical thought bubbles and seems aware of the narrator, although he gets on well with our two heroes (who I'm convinced are way more than "just friends").
( robots on ice! )