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Jean-Paul Mougin, 1941-2011
posted January 1, 2012

Jean-Paul Mougin, the co-founder and long-time editor of seminal French comics magazine À Suivre, died in Brussels yesterday at the age of 70. Although an official cause of death has yet to be announced, he was a longtime sufferer of complications due to throat cancer.

imageMougin came to prominence in the late 1960s as the editor of a revived Pif Gadget from Editions Valliant. Under Mougin's stewardship that magazine flashed over one million copies sold in both 1970 and 1971, and introduced French-language readers to Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese in addition to a number of other heavyweights and eventual heavyweights of French comics such as Jean-Claude Forest, Paul Gillon and Gotlib. It was also noteworthy for its move away from heavy serialization and the favor it gave to more complete stories, a practice Mougin would later bring to his signature assignment. In 1972, his connection to Pratt enabled Mougin's recruitment to Casterman, where he assisted in the publication of well-received albums such as Hugo Pratt's La Ballade de la mer salée, a 1975 Angoulême debut and 1976 festival prize winner.

In 1978, Mougin co-founded and became the primary editorial voice for À Suivre, one of the foundational magazines of both French comics and for world comics with serious literary or art-comic aspirations. It was another well-publicized Angoulême Festival debut. In addition to Pratt, A Suivre would publish Alejandro Jodorowsky, Moebius, Milo Manara, Jacques de Loustal, Jacques Tardi, François Bourgeon, Ted Benoît, Guido Crepax, Vittorio Giardino and François Schuiten among dozens of others. The line-up in the first issue alone could have fueled an entire publishing line. The vastly influential, arch and metaphor-laden Forest/Tardi work Ici Même, recently republished in North America by Fantagraphics, launched with the magazine.

À Suivre became such a touchstone of a certain, seriously-intended approach to comics that some cartoonist's careers were marked by the publishing choices they made after not finding favor with Mougin and the magazine. It is also cited as the major factor in Casterman's transformation from staid publisher of traditional French comics and potential cultural oblivion; one obituary suggests that the black and white nature of the majority of those comics was in part because it made their publication less of a risk for the big-name house. À Suivre came to an end in 1997 after 239 issues, in roughly the same period as a serious, new wave of alternative comics began to take hold in the market. It is widely considered one of a half-dozen of the most important BD magazines of the 20th Century. Mougin moved to Brussels and apparently enjoyed a quiet retirement, in part because of his illness.

mon français est très pauvre; si vous avez une correction, s'il vous plaît envoyez-le accompagné