September 28, 2008
On The Passing Of Raymond Macherot
By Kim Thompson
My reaction upon learning of the death
of Raymond Macherot
was an emphatic "merde." He was the last surviving member of the seven Grand Old Belgians who so far as I am concerned were responsible for the glory of French comics post-war -- Franquin
, and Tillieux
being the others -- and the only one who did most of his best work for Tintin
magazine rather than Spirou
(although his undisputed masterpiece, Chaminou et le Khrompire
, was the first thing he did for Spirou
Even though his predilection for funny-animals and simple drawing style made his work seem to be the most childish of the lot (which is why I didn't pay particular attention to him when I was an adolescent -- dumb kid!), he had a dark wit that, years later, makes his work as fresh as ever even as his other cohorts look dated. And of course that simple drawing was exquisite. On to of which he was, of his peer group, the most willing to mix it up and try out new series concepts even if his publishers tended to squash them and push him back into the box of his two bucolic series, Chlorophylle
He hasn't been particularly well served in terms of reprints, either -- much of his later (admittedly weaker) Sibylline
work was not even collected into albums, and Chaminou
remains, insanely, out of print -- and he would be on the very bottom of my list of European cartoonists likely to ever make it into English. One hopes that his death might spur either the mainstream publishers who released the work, or energetic smaller publishers, to get more of it back into print. I'll have my Euros ready!
I have many regrets, but not slipping some Macherot into Critters
when I had the chance is near the top of the list today.
Kim Thompson, Fantagraphics co-publisher, editor of the 1980s funny animal anthology Critters and longtime champion of European comics in North America, was nice enough to send us this letter on Friday evening. I liked it enough I wanted to spotlight it here for a day before moving it over into the letters section. Thanks, Kim.
posted 9:15 am PST
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