Happy Birthday with Barelli & Co

The front of the 1984 B-day card.
The front of the 1984 B-day card.

In 1984 Le Lombard asked Bob De Moor to create a ‘Happy Birthday’ card. It was one of several which he would make for Le Lombard in the eighties and would underline his good relations with the publisher. It’s no coincidence that after he completed “Mortimer contre Mortimer” in 1989, that he was nominated artistic director at Le Lombard.

But back to the HB-card. It consists of two parts, the front and the inside of the card. The front shows several colored text balloons on a black background with the following content: laughter, “Attention!”, “Chut” (Eng.: “Be quiet”), “Encore un instant.” (Eng.: “One more second”) and “Silence…”.

The inside of the 1984 B-day card.
The inside of the 1984 B-day card.

When you open the card you’ll see the whole Barelli gang gathered to wish you a Happy Birthday. On the card we see from left to right inspector Moreau, Anne Nannah, Barelli, then an unknown character (presumably from Le Lombard?), the Lord of Gonobutz and Sophia Barelli who switched on the light. It’s unclear what was the reason for this particular card. Maybe it was created for the birthday of Raymond Leblanc (22 mei 1915) that year? If someone has more info, feel free letting us know!

The print on the card wasn’t exactly the best as you can also see from the scan we took but it’s sufficient to enjoy it. Bob De Moor seemed to love cakes, as you can also see in this article on a collaborative effort between Bob De Moor and Dirk Stallaert with… a cake.

When everybody starts to fool around in Barelli you get this

The cover for Tintin, issue 43, 1950.
The cover for Tintin, issue 43, 1950.

Update: we have been informed by Olivier Marin that the original black and white drawing as you can see in this article no longer exists as the owner of the drawing had it colored by a Studio Hergé colorist somewhere in the 80s.

On 26 October 1950 the Tintin Journal published a cover by Bob De Moor to announce a scene in the Barelli debut “L’énigmatique Monsieur Barelli” / “De raadselachtige Signor Barelli” (later renamed “”De raadselachtige Mr. Barelli” and even more later “De raadselachtige Meneer Barelli”).

The story itself would run from number 30 1950 to number 9 1951. Since the story got first released in an album format by Le Lombard in 1956, each cover of a new edition would have a different album cover layout. But we’ll get back on this in a later article. For now we focus on this drawing which would not be used in the French edition of Tintin.

The B/W drawing for the cover for Tintin, issue 43, 1950.
The B/W drawing for the cover for Tintin, issue 43, 1950.

We also stumbled on the black and white version of the coverdrawing and a black and white drawing is always that bit different of course. You can enjoy it on the left.

The coverdrawing shows Bob De Moor‘s love for big sceneries where a lot happens. It’s not surprising that the legend on the Tintin cover would say “Tout le monde s’en mêlée!…” (Eng.: “Everybody inter-meddles”). You’ll see that De Moor’s style of showing running people (see the old man with the can) is still a bit ‘carré’ as the french would say. But it also shows that De Moor was starting to master the clear line of Hergé very well.

When a bump became too theatrical to be natural in Blake and Mortimer

The original final case on page 7.
The original final case on page 7.

In the first edition of the Blake and Mortimer album “Professor Sató’s Three Formulae, Volume 2: Mortimer vs. Mortimer” (1990) Bob De Moor drew the last case of page 7 in a rather awkward way. You can see Captain Francis Blake running into 2 other people, but something just doesn’t feel right. The pose just doesn’t seem natural. But that – truth to be told – wasn’t entirely the fault of De Moor unlike what many think. In fact had Bob De Moor followed the picture Edgar P. Jacobs made for that pose it would have been even more theatrical. He softened the pose for the first edition of the album but in the end he (and others) felt that the choice still wasn’t the best either.

The 'corrected' final case on page 7.
The ‘corrected’ final case on page 7.

The story was also explained in the “Dossier Mortimer contra Mortimer” as published by Les Editions Blake et Mortimer and it was suggested in there that Bob De Moor should redraw the case, which he did. In the later edition this particular case would be replaced by another version by De Moor (you can see it on the left) which was way more natural (and closer to the many corner bumps in Barelli for instance). Note that the initial crayon drawing by Edgar P. Jacobs was more like the final result for the later editions. So it’s a bit weird that De Moor chose to go for the pictured pose instead…

You’ll also notice that De Moor adapted the different body part sizes in this new version, so that the characters in this case have a less large head compared to their body. We’ll get back to this in a later article when we dive into the details of how the album was exactly made and the problems Bob De Moor faced besides having to work against a fast ticking clock.

“Marilyn et Staline vont en Avion” with Bob De Moor and Tintin (part 1)

The frontcover of the booklet
The frontcover of the booklet

In 1985 ‘Le Théâtre de l’Esprit Frappeur‘ produced the comedy-musical “Marilyn et Staline vont en avion”. The piece was written by Thierry van Eyll and François Rauber and directed by Albert-André Lheureux with music by François Rauber. It played at the Brussels -based Botanique venue and had a 20-page booklet with a drawing by Bob De Moor loosely based on “The Shooting Star” as far as the plane is concerned on the frontpage (with Stalin in the cockpit and Marilyn Monroe on the right wing – a pose based on “Cigars of the Pharaoh”,  page 16).

A cartoon which was inside the booklet
A cartoon which was inside the booklet

But that wasn’t the only reference to Tintin. Inside the booklet there was also a cartoon which Bob De Moor made featuring (a rather sexy) Marilyn Monroe and Stalin flying away on a paper plane. The plane was constructed out of 2 pages taken from the “The Calculus Affair” (page 46 & 47). Yes, you need to know your classics to find this one at first glance like we did :).

In the credits on the back of the booklet we find Alain Baran, Bob De Moor, les Studios Hergé and Guy Dessicy (Publi-Art). If anyone has the original of this booklet, please get in touch with us.

Later this week we will post part 2.

The extraordinary life of Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, by Bob De Moor + exclusive scan

The 1979 hardcover edition by Jonas - Archives Family De Moor
The 1979 hardcover edition by Jonas – Archives Family De Moor

In 1949 Flemish journalist and writer Gaston Durnez – who at that time worked at the daily newspaper De Nieuwe Gids – was asked to write a scenario for a comic based on the life of Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, a French priest, educational reformer, and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (respectively Broeders van liefde in Dutch and Frères de la Charité in French).

Since ‘Jean-Baptiste de la Salle’ as a title didn’t exactly sound even remotely interesting, Durnez changed the title into ‘De koene edelman, het leven van Jean-Baptiste de la Salle’ (Eng.: “The brave nobleman, the life of Jean-Baptiste de la Salle”). That might have sounded good in 1949, but for the album edition 30 years later, publishers Jonas (1979) and Procure/Broeders van de Christelijke scholen (1980) would go for the more adventurous title “Het uitzonderlijke leven van Jean-Baptiste de la Salle” (Eng.: “The extraordinary life of Jean-Baptiste de la Salle”). The later released album editions would also be released in French as “La vie extraordinaire de Jean-Baptiste de la Salle”, for the French speaking readers in Belgium.

But back to 1949. The comic would be published in the weekly ‘t Kapoentje (issues 18 1949 to 49 1949) which was especially made for Christian schools. Editor-in-chief was a certain Marc Neels (yes, aka Marc Sleen, the father of Nero) and Bob De Moor was asked to draw the comic, presumably via the Artec connection, the company he had started together with his brother-in-law John Van Looveren. De Moor would fit the life of Jean-Baptiste de la Salle in 32 pages.

At that time it was rather common that comics were made about religious people. The church saw it as a way to tell the stories (and up to the mid-eighties these comics would be distributed in catholic schools in Belgium). Other comics authors would tackle similar subjects such as Willy Vandersteen, Marc Sleen, Jef Nys (who drew several religious comics), Jijé (his “Don Bosco” became widely known), Sirius etc..

Signed by Bob De Moor for his daughter Annemie De Moor - Archives Family De Moor
Signed by Bob De Moor for his daughter Annemie De Moor -Family De Moor Archives

On the left you see a (Jonas hardcover) copy signed by Bob De Moor for his then 30-year old daughter Annemie De Moor. The Dutch inscription which Bob De Moor wrote in the copy (holding number 29 of 500) says: “To my dear Annemie, hoping that we will be be spending a lot more time together. But if she follows the holy example of our hero, then I fear the worst! Big kisses. Daddy”.

The album style itself is one step closer to the detailed approach we would see later that year in his masterpiece “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen”. Sure thing is that Bob De Moor‘s craftsmanship improved on a daily basis. The hesitating lines from this Jean-Baptiste de la Salle album are are no match to the masterpiece that is “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen”.

The original untrimmed artwork for the album
The original untrimmed artwork for the album

Note that the cover of the Jean-Baptiste de la Salle album was drawn in 1979, hence the difference in style with the 1949 content. You will also notice that the final cover was trimmed on the edges compared to the original cover you see on the left.

Small detail, in the comic album editions you’ll see both ‘Bob De Moor’ & ‘Bob de Moor’ (spelled with a small ‘d’). The error is recurrent in many books (and also created confusion with us as far as what was the official spelling). The correct spelling is Bob De Moor.

Thanks to Luc De Meulenaere for the scanned cover and inscription.

An original cover for Sterke Jan / Conrad Le Hardi, and fear of plagiarism

You'll notice that originally the moon was placed behind Sterke Jan holding up the timber after which De Moor moved it to the left.
You’ll notice that originally the moon was placed behind Sterke Jan holding up the timber after which De Moor moved it to the left.

In 1950, Karel Van Milleghem, the energetic editor-in-chief of Kuifje, the Flemish (dutch written) version of the Tintin weekly, asked Bob De Moor to adapt the Constant de Kinder novel “De wonderlijke lotgevallen van Jan zonder Vrees” into a comic. Due to the fact that the royalties asked for the Constant de Kinder original were a bit on the high end, it was suggested that De Moor would change the title of the story into “Sterke Jan”. The story also got published in Ons Volkske (issues 31 1951 through 14 1952), so that Tintin/Kuifje got the premiere.

In order to avoid accusations of plagiarism De Moor had to be rather inventive as far as the storyline went. As a result, the story itself was not really his best – with too many deus ex machina’s for example – and it was cut short after 36 pages (issues 1 through 36 of Tintin/Kuifje in 1951). But, though the scenario was far from excellent, De Moor had been able showcasing his graphical skills, yet again, including 2 of the best Tintin weekly covers for that year.

Just like most of De Moor’s albums, this story, too, got several front page layouts once it was released in an album format (more than 20 years later that would be). Although there are several more publications (including a great, very limited one by Pirrewiet a few years ago on 250 copies in an extra large format), we’ll only touch on the most known. The Magnum-version remained loyal to the original Tintin front page of issue 1, 1951, but both the Brabantia Nostra and the Bédéscope version had different layouts. The Brabantia Nostra version took the Tintin front page of issue 21, 1951 (leaving out the legend on the right) while Bédéscope published a version with the Tintin front page of issue 21, 1951 (including the legend on the right) and one which had a completely different cover altogether. That wasn’t the only difference. Shades were used in the Tintin version and this was reproduced in the Bédéscope album version but not in the Magnum version which stayed loyal to Bob De Moor’s original B/W inked pages (just like the Pirrewiet version).

On the left you see the original drawing which Bob De Moor made for the Kuifje/Tintin front page of issue 21, 1951. You’ll notice that originally the moon was placed behind Sterke Jan holding up the timber, after which De Moor moved it to the left. A very strong image, which stays recognizable.

There is a lot more to tell about this album; we’ll get back to this.

50 years of Tintin celebrated with Barelli, Monsieur Tric , Cori and Balthazar

kuifje-50-jaarOn January 10th 1979 Bob De Moor made a special drawing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tintin. Little would he know that the 1976 album “Tintin and the Picaros” would be the last ever completed.

In the drawing you see Bob De Moor‘s own characters Monsieur Tric and Cori having Tintin on their shoulders while Barelli and Balthazar hold signs up respectively with the texts ‘1929 Petit 20ème’ (referring to the Le Petit Vingtième magazine of course where Tintin appeared in first in 1929) and ‘1979 Grand 50ème’.

Luc De Meulenaere (husband of Annemie De Moor), who has been very helpful in the past providing us with some rare material, had this to say about this drawing: “This drawing characterizes so well the spirit of Bob, who was more than just Hergé’s assistant. It shows his pluralism, his humility, his friendship with Hergé, their complicity, humor and of course his talent.” We couldn’t have phrased it any better.

Note that the very same day Bob De Moor also made a different drawing with the same message as you can see on the left.

This drawing got featured in the issue number 12 of Tintin next to 36 other tributes by fellow comic authors. The drawings itself were first presented during an exhibition with some 1000 invitees to celebrate Tintin’s 50th anniversary. The drawings measured 2 meters in height. Personally we prefer the first drawing to this one on the left.

A Bob De Moor story which definitely needs a re-edition… with correct full coloring

In 1959 the Tintin Journal published the Bob De Moor story “Pirates D’eau Douce” / “De Zoetwaterpiraten” in the issues 26 till 40. The one-off story of 30 pages featured the adventures of Dic, Vic & Mic (Dik, Vik, Mik in the dutch version). On the flemish side, De Moor would see the story published in Ons Volkske (from issue 50 in 1959 till issue 28 in 1960). The story would mean the final flemish school inspired album from Bob De Moor who would from now on opt for the clear line from the Brussels school with Hergé and Jacobs being the perfect examples.

If you compare this story to the last Johan & Stéphan album (aka Oncle Zigomar) you can notice that Bob De Moor‘s style had undergone quite some influence from Hergé. The drawings are cleaner, preciser. It’s obvious that De Moor was able putting extra work into finishing the drawings as he was no longer under pressure of prepping the pages with the killing rhythm and deadlines which newspapers imposed. And you can say with certainty that this story would never have seen the light of day if it weren’t for Hergé asking him to join the studio.

For some odd reason, it would take De Moor more than 23 years to see the story published in an album format, the fact that it only counted 30 pages is probably one of the main reasons (Le Lombard only wanted to release 44 page stories of Barelli for instance). In 1983 both Magic Strip and De Dageraad (in their Magnum series) would publish the story, with Magic Strip opting for a hardcover.

The color horror (watch the roof of the house). First case is from the Tintin Journal, the second is from the Magic Strip version, the 3rd is from the De Dageraad version.
The color horror (watch the roof of the house). First case is from the Tintin Journal, the second is from the Magic Strip version, the 3rd is from the De Dageraad version.

Color-wise the story suffered a lot of problems though. The coloring in the Tintin journal for instance consisted of several shades of grey and red which turned some of the details invisible especially when the darker grey was used. On top the films weren’t really matched correctly one on another, as a result the colors exited the drawings.

Also the album versions suffered the same faith, more or less. The flemish De Dageraad version got even darker ‘colors’ with another mismatch of the films (you’d think that at least one of the errors would have been avoided, but alas). The Magic Strip version had the same colors as the Tintin Journal (still too dark of course) but the colors luckily stayed inside the lines this time.

Sure thing is that this album needs a reedition with a good coloring in the style of Tintin.

Bob De Moor poster for ‘Tonnerre De Brest, Silence! – L’âge d’or de la BD Belge 1929-1950’ film + Edgar P. Jacobs armed at the cinema

Copyright © Hergé / Moulinsart
Copyright © Hergé / Moulinsart

Bob De Moor has done more filmposters than the one for Robbe De Hert‘s “Janssen and Janssens” in 1989. 5 years earlier, in 1984, he made the filmposter for “Tonnerre De Brest, Silence! – L’âge d’or de la BD Belge 1929-1950”.

The belgian film, directed by Armand Zaninetta and Didier Bastien, was 98 minutes in length and featured such comic authors as Franquin, Jacobs, Morris, Roba, Peyo, Cirius, Eddy Paape next to the (not so famous) actors as Tanguy Foglia, Paul-Henri Burton and Luc Habets. The film itself was produced by the Brussels based Centre de Produdictions Audio-visuelles Studio AZ 35.

The poster you see here was completed by Bob De Moor after Hergé‘s Captain Haddock character. Notice the rock formations in the background.

There’s an anecdote to this film. When the film was premiered at the City 2 in Brussels, Edgar P. Jacobs arrived (together with De Moor) with a gun in his pocket. Jacobs had heard that the police had arrested drug pushers in the area a few weeks earlier and decided it was safer having a gun on him… “just in case they attack us” so he told Bob De Moor.

Bécassine à la Bob De Moor, previously unreleased

Bécassine as Bob De Moor visualized it - Copyright © Family De Moor
Bécassine as Bob De Moor visualized it – Copyright © Family De Moor

In 1962 (1963?) Bob De Moor was asked to take over the popular French Bécassine series. Although he completed several test drawings, Hergé objected to Bob De Moor’s plan to pursue the series. Eventually, Bob De Moor would decline the offer (possibly under pressure by Hergé).

This morning Luc De Meulenaere, husband of Annemie De Moor (daughter of Bob De Moor), sent us one of these test drawings to showcase how Bob De Moor pictured the famous Breton maid.

The drawing has never been published before and was until now totally unknown to many. Ronald Grossey did mention the existence of these drawings in his recently released biography on Bob De Moor, on page 195. But the first mention was in the 2011 book “Kinderen van Kuifje” (Eng.: Children of Tintin) by Toon Horsten, on page 51, where Annemie and Johan De Moor evoke the drawings.

As you can see here, the drawing shows a master hand at work, with the typical Bob De Moor rock drawings (which Hergé and Jacques Martin also incorporated in their work). De Moor clearly modernized the world of Bécassine style-wise and unlike what Hergé thought would have probably turned it into a successful series. You’ll also notice the very warm coloring which reminds of the one used in the Tintin albums.

But who was Bécassine?

blppxijeBécassine is a comic strip and the name of its heroine, appearing for the first time in the first issue of La Semaine de Suzette on February 2, 1905. Its style of drawing, with lively, modern, rounded lines, would inspire the ‘ligne claire’ style which Hergé 25 years later would make popular in The Adventures of Tintin. Initially made as filler for a blank page, the story, written by Jacqueline Rivière and drawn by Joseph Pinchon, was such a success that new pages regularly appeared, still in the guise of page fillers.

Only in 1913 did Bécassine become the heroine of more structured stories. Still drawn by Pinchon, the stories were then written by Caumery (pseudonym of Maurice Languereau), one of the associates of Gautier-Languereau, the publisher of La Semaine de Suzette. At that time, the character’s real name was revealed to be Annaïck Labornez, her nickname coming from her home village, called Clocher-les-Bécasses.

78780251_oBetween 1913 and 1950, 27 volumes of the adventures of Bécassine appeared. Pinchon drew 25 of them, and Edouard Zier the other two. All 27 were credited as being written by “Caumery”, but after Languereau’s death in 1941, the pseudonym was used by others. After Pinchon’s death in 1953, the series continued with other artists, most notably Jean Trubert beginning in 1959. Trubert would complete 3 albums: “Bécassine revient” (1959, text by Camille François), “L’Alphabet de Bécassine” (1961, text by Vaubant) and “Bécassine mène l’enquête” (1962, text by Camille François). It was at this point that Bob De Moor was asked to take over the series.

After a decline in popularity, Bécassine regained prominence due to the hit single “Bécassine, c’est ma cousine” (“Bécassine, she’s my cousin”) by Chantal Goya, which sold over three million copies in 1979. It has been replied to by the Breton guitarist Dan Ar Braz with the song “Bécassine, ce n’est pas ma cousine” (“Bécassine, she’s not my cousin”).

Some details:

  • She is the first female protagonist in the history of comics
  • “Bécassine” is a nickname, derived from the French word for a number of birds of the family of the snipe, which is also used as a way of saying “fool” in French
  • Bécassine was translated for the dutch market as “Toosje Tontel” (yes, we know, a horrid name)
  • More info can be found at http://becassine.voila.net
  • 42 albums would be published including special non-series and collectible small format albums