“Yakari” and “Yoko Tsuno”, the happy return of two classic stainless steel cartoons

Derib, 77, and Roger Leloup, 88, two legends from the golden age of French-Belgian comics, continue to draw the adventures of their cult figures and renew themselves.

Yesterday’s heroes have not yet said their last words. While a new generation of writers is dynamizing French-Belgian comics by imposing codes from Japan, two veterans of the golden age of the 1950s and 1960s continue to draw and renew themselves.

Derib, 77, published the 42nd volume of The Adventures of the Little Indian Yakari on May 13, Thathanka’s Wrath. “He’s in the top three-four,” he said before adding, “It’s a little hard [pour les autres tomes]”. The same day, Roger Leloup, 88 Saturn’s Gemini30th volume of his story of SF Yoko Tsuno.

Each page of these albums testifies to their undiminished pleasure in drawing. “It’s an absolute pleasure to do so Yakari at the moment “, says Derib, who welcomes his collaboration with screenwriter Xavier Giacometti, director of the series and the film derived from the comic.” The comic has something magical about it. “

“Engage the reader with each of the pages”

Located in the American West and within the boundaries of the galaxy, these albums contain their share of landscapes and amazing creatures, ideal to amaze the youngest: “I have to hook the reader with each of the pages,” Derib explains. “The colors really show up lately Yoko Tsuno“, Welcomes his side Roger Leloup.

Cover of volume 30 of
Cover of Volume 30 of “Yoko Tsuno” © Dupuis

The two designers, now in a canonical age, work in a completely free way without pressure. “Given my age, I take the liberty of telling the langobard that there will be one Yakari when I have time for it, “Derib states.” We are not planning a year in advance. “Same story with Roger Leloup:

“When you’re 88 and you’re going to be working on an album for two years, you say to yourself, ‘I want to go through that? I have an angel who’s always protected me, but we do not.’ at this age to wake up the next day. One must be modest. With its 88, it no longer makes plans for the future. “

“I almost passed”

Derib as Roger Leloup are also both recovering from Covid. The first caught him on April 1st. “Everything is fine,” he reassures. “It lasted three or four days. I’m starting to live again. But I’m much more tired. I draw less fast than before. I have to recover.”

Roger Leloup was “defeated” last year by Covid on page 30 of Saturn Gemini. “I almost fainted,” he reveals. “I was scared not to finish the album.” Not only was he able to finish it, but the inspiration returned after his admission: “Yoko came back on his own. The pencil worked again by itself.”

Unlike many designers, whose line over time is becoming more and more refined, they have kept a very precise drawing. “It’s a bit of my strength,” notes Roger Leloup, trained by Hergé. “I’ve always been attracted to technique. I admit it honestly: I’m more comfortable with my sets than with my characters.”

Cover of volume 40 of
Cover of Volume 40 of “Yakari” © Le Lombard

Same observation with Derib, trained by Peyo and Franquin: “If you reread their comics, you will see that there is a quality to the drawing that is fabulous. Franquin said to me, ‘Never publish a drawing that you are not dissatisfied with. with. “It is an absolute truth.”

Art of Disappearing Ancestors

Derib and Roger Leloup also have another point in common, which they share with Lambil (The blue tunics) and Philippe Francq (Wide game): a talent for telling a story simple in appearance but with complex themes, on only 46 pages, the classic format for comics.

“After fifty years, if I was not able to write a 46-page story, it would be dramatic!” laughs Derib. The comic art of this ancestor is nevertheless threatened and they are the last representatives. The new generations of writers, most of whom have switched to graphic novels, cannot do that.

“They did not go as hard at a school as the one where I was,” Derib analyzes. “She was tough for a good reason: at the time, the albums were all 46 pages long. There were no other solutions.”

Replying to “Avatar”

Their art is dying and their characters will not survive them. “I do not want us to take Yoko back,” Roger Leloup insists. “I do not want anyone else to draw her. Yoko is my daughter. I am raising my child myself.” And to add: “I have the rights to the character. Dupuis only has the rights to the albums.”

Derib is also an opponent of front pages (“For me, Spirou and Fantasio stopped when Franquin stopped drawing him”), but he has not yet thought about what Yakari will be when he dies: “With the editions of Lombard, we still have not discussed it. ” He just has the next one in the back of his mind Yakariwhich will be released within two years.

Roger Leloup has already designed half of the new Yoko Tsuno. He will stage elves there, in response Avatar. James Cameron would truly have been inspired by his cartoon for his blockbuster, and Roger Leloup intends to give him a favor: “I looked. The name of a dog! Their ears are ugly! I can not leave without doing my elves to me – same! “

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