For those who have never read “The Yellow M” or “The Mystery of the Great Pyramid” by Edgar P. Jacobs, the following item of news is not particularly relevant: a new volume of the Blake and Mortimer series has appeared, called “La Malédiction des Trente Deniers”.
The series of Blake and Mortimer was started in 1947 by Edgar P. Jacobs, an earlier collaborator of Hergé. He wrote and drew the eight original volumes of the series. Both the drawing style and the plots of some of these graphical novels are superb, including the above and “The Secret of the Espadon” (“The Yellow M” being in my opinion Jacobs’ ultimate realisation). Written and set in the 50’s, these novels are much more political that Hergé’s Tintin series, reflecting on the cold war atmosphere of the time and on the threat to (European) civilisation of mad scientists in a post-nuclear world. The fond depiction of an “Olde England” that is almost caricatural at times is also an enjoyable part of the novels. The longing for a British Empire that was quickly disappearing while the novels were written is obviously accompanied by an ethno-centrism that verges on racism and xenophobia at times. The World cannot be saved but by cultivated anglo-saxon men! (Characteristically, there is no female central character in the series… One [lame] explanation is that, the series being published in a kid magazine, Le Journal de Tintin, the editors were afraid of Belgian censorship if they included attractive intelligent women!!) His attempts at science-fiction were less convincing, even though the drawings of “Time Trap” are also superb (in particular, the surroundings of La Roche-Guyon). Continue reading