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    André Franquin, Master of the Ninth Art

    Screech, Matthew ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2100-7362 (1999) André Franquin, Master of the Ninth Art. Journal of Popular Culture, 33 (3). pp. 95-133. ISSN 0022-3840

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    Belgian comic strip artist André Franquin (1924-1997) is a leading figure in European popular culture. His comics Spirou et Fantasio, Modeste et Pompon, Gaston Lagaffe, and Idées noires appeared regularly in magazines between 1946 and 1990, and were republished as hardback albums. Franquin is translated into eleven languages. Franquin’s best-loved characters, Gaston Lagaffe and the Marsupilami, have entered popular mythology. Hergé, creator of the world-famous comic strip hero Tintin, called Franquin “a great artist compared to whom I’m just a mediocre drawer”; the French Minister of Culture paid tribute to Franquin. Although Franquin’s talent is recognized on continental Europe and elsewhere, he remains almost unknown in the USA and Britain. Franquin is not translated into English. Two English-language writers mention Franquin in passing, and he has an entry in one American comics encyclopedia. In this study I assess Franquin’s contribution to Franco-Belgian comics-which are called bandes dessinées. I establish Franquin’s importance in giving bandes dessinées an identity distinct from that of American comics. I hope I shall also encourage a wider audience to know Franquin better. To appreciate Franquin fully, it is helpful to begin by briefly reviewing bandes dessinées up to the mid-1940s.

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