Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Home > News Story and Obituary Archive

Thierry Martens, 1942-2011
posted January 1, 2012

imageThierry Martens, a prolific writer, comics historian and the one-time editor-in-chief of Spirou during the transitional 1970s, died on June 27. He was found in his home by a fellow writer. Martens was 69.

Martens was editor at the seminal comics publication during the period 1968 to 1978, taking on the position in his mid-twenties. As Kim Thompson explained in a lovely reminiscence at The Comics Journal, this was a period of relative decline for the magazine. Pilote was the industry's standard-bearer, and many of the generation that took Spirou to its earlier heights were doing fewer pages for Martens than they had for his predecessor. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Martens' run that Thompson and others have noted is his attention to comics history, a passion that found expression in Spirou in short historical pieces and biographical articles.

Martens was a prolific writer for the magazine as well; his best-known pseudonym was probably Yves Varende. He contributed work to the serials Archie Cash, Aryanne, Vincent Murat and Natacha.

Using the Varende name, Martens wrote a scholarly study devoted to the early 20th Century detective novel (1995) and Sherlock Holmes specifically (1996); he also penned a handful of Holmesian pastiches, among them Le Requin de la Tamise and Le Tueur dans le Fog. Martens also wrote more general science fiction under that same name.

In 1980, Glénat released Histoire de la Bande Dessinee en France et en Belgique, which Martens co-wrote with Henri Filippini, Jacques Glénat and Numa Sadoul. It remains a seminal work on the subject.