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Blake and Mortimer by François Schuiten

François Schuiten has made a tribute album of Blake and Mortimer by Edgar P. Jacobs based on a scenario by Thomas Gunzig and Jaco Van Dormael. The album is coloured by Laurent Durieux. This album will be published in June 2019 by Dargaud.

François Schuiten working on a page of the Blake & Mortimer tribute album in February 2018 1).

The Blake and Mortimer tribute album by François Schuiten, based on a scenario by Thomas Gunzig and Jaco Van Dormael has been officially announced, but not all details have been shared. So information about this project can change over time. We will update this dossier over time.

From first rumours until confirmation

The first news that François Schuiten would draw an episode of Blake and Mortimer by Edgar P. Jacobs came from an article with the title “Schuiten s’attaque à Jacobs” in La Dernière Heure (a Belgium newspaper) on October 1st, 2015.

According to the article the scenario would be made by Thomas Gunzig. The album was projected to be published in 2017.

We cannot show you the article of La Derrière Heure anymore 2), but Thomas Gunzig confirmed the news a few days later by the following tweet.

Although there was more and more proof of Schuiten working on this tribute album, no official confirmation was made until February 2018 when Yves Schlirf, Directeur Editorial at Dargaud posted a tweet 3) with a picture of Thomas Gunzig and François Schuiten working on the album.

image posted by Yves Schlirf

On May 14, 2018 Yves Schlirf posted another tweet with pictures of François Schuiten delivering the final pages of the Blake and Mortimer album. In this tweet Schlirf confirmed a release date of June 2019 4).

Final pages of Blake & Mortimer by Schuiten

In September 2018 Yves Schlirf posted a new tweet of Schuiten working on a covered image. Schlirf reconfirmed the June 2019 publishing date 5).

François Schuiten working on Blake & Mortimer

A tribute album

Early 2016 more information about the album surfaced. The for June 2019 projected album will be a tribute album. Thomas Gunzig, the screenwriter of the Belgian film “Le Tout Nouveau Testament” wrote the scenario along with the director of that film, Jaco Van Dormael. The album is drawn by François Schuiten 6). In November 2016 it became known that the colouring of the album will be done by Laurent Durieux 7).

Schuiten talked about this project in BD Magazine of June, 2016. He confirmed that the album will be a one-shot, a tribute to Jacobs and Blake & Mortimer as he refuses to pastiche Jacobs. Schuiten confirmed again in an interview with Pollen that he will not try to imitate the style of Jacobs 8).

Cet univers Jacobsien m’a fort marqué, plus qu’une continuation, c’est une façon de lui rendre hommage en reprenant son univers sans jamais s’immiscer dans son style.François Schuiten, interview Pollen

Schuiten explains: “I found myself confronted with this crucial question: what is fidelity to an author? Aligning with his style or paying homage to mine? Finally, I did what I would like you to do. I do not copy his style, respect the spirit, not the letter. ” 9)

The album will have over 80 pages 10). In comic magazine Casemate #114 (May 2018) Laurent Durieux mentioned that publisher Dargaud will release a color edition and a black and white edition of the album.

Jaco Van Dormael, Yves Schlirf (Directeur Editorial at Dargaud - Blake et Mortimer), François Schuiten, François Pernot (C.E.O of Dargaud-Lombard) and Thomas Gunzig pose in front of the Tintin image on top of the Lombard building in Brussels, in April 2017 11)

The publication date has been changed a couple of time. End 2016 François Schuiten confirmed that the album would be published in 2018 and not in 2017 as expected before. But in October 2017 he told Casemate magazine that the publication will be ready mid 2019 12). In comic magazine Casemate #114 (May 2018) Laurent Durieux mentioned that the release of the album is scheduled for June 2019. This release date was confirmed by Yves Schlirf in a tweet on May 14, 2018 13).

This project represents a previously stated desire of publisher Yves Schlirf to bring out tribute albums in the line of the secondary collection of Spirou & Fantasio. Big names of the comic word are asked to develop their vision of Blake and Mortimer, as long as it takes sufficient distance from the main series.

The contract with Schuiten was signed in June 2015 14). The involvement of Schuiten comes not completely out of the blue. Schuiten already supported Chantal De Spiegeleer who was completing the album “Blake and Mortimer 19: La Malédiction des trente deniers” after the sudden death of her husband René Sterne. He was also reportedly been asked to draw Part 2 of “The 3 formulas of Professor Sato”, a job that Bob De Moor finally performed to the best of his ability.

Scenario

The scenario of this tribute album is made by Thomas Gunzig and Jaco Van Dormael.

Schuiten asked Benoît Peeters for the scenario first 15). The story would have been situated in the Second World War, but that project was frozen 16).

Afterwards Schuiten asked Jaco Van Dormael if he knew of a screenwriter who could help him. Van Dormael proposed himself he came with Thomas Gunzig, who co-wrote several Van Dormael films 17).

Thomas Gunzig is a Belgian writer whose childhood was heavily marked by dyslexia. He still got his degree in political science. In 1993 he debuted as a novelist, and meanwhile he has written twenty books. He is also a professor of literature, he writes plays, columns for radio, television and newspapers, and even songs 18).

Jaco Van Dormael (Toto le Héros, Mr. Nobody) is also pretty much strip minded. Before he tried to bring the Tintin series to the silver screen 19).

During summer of 2016 they worked with Schuiten on the scenario. Thomas Gunzig posed before François Schuiten, while Jaco Van Dormael took the picture, during one of these sessions. Gunzig posted the folder with the first drawings by Schuiten, but could not share anything about its contents. In La Libre Schuiten tells that they did a very advanced storyboard when designing the script. “They think 'image' but differently” he said 20).

In November 2018 the three gave an interview with Tout le Baz'Art.They explained that although they discussed everything together, Van Dormael focussed on the “bones of the story”, the structure, while Gunzig was focussed at the “meat” and Schuiten at the “skin”. Gunzig and Van Dormael explained that they had to challenge Schuiten with their story.


The story with Gunzig and van Domael will be in a more contemporary setting, but also more science fiction, futuristic. They wish to see how Blake and Mortimer would react facing the world today 21).

In Le Télégramme of September 2nd, 2016 a pre publication of Revoir Paris started. The newspaper wrote also about the Blake and Mortimer album. According to the newspaper the Palace of Justice in Brussels will be an important part of the story 22).

(…) Enfin, François Schuiten travaille déjà sur un nouvel album consacré à Blake et Mortimer. Il ne s'agira pas d'une nouvelle suite classique à la série de Jacobs mais d'une adaptation très libre de François Schuiten avec comme décor principal l'immense palais de justice de Bruxelles.(…) Le Télégramme

In June 2018 Atlantic12 posted an image 23) of the desk of François Schuiten showing some reference material for the Blake and Mortimer album. It shows several images of the Brussels Courthouse including an old image that was used before for the Souvenirs de Bruxelles image.

On May 28, 2018 publisher Yves Schlirf tweeted a photo of François Schuiten researching the Justice Palace in Brussels 24)

In an interview with La Libre François Schuiten says “As you know the courthouse fascinates me, but there is a hyphen with Jacobs: we found notes that he was planning a story that would have happened there. He grew up in the Marolles, at the foot of the palace and I thought the palace was another 'big pyramid', it's like Jacobs gave me the green light posthumously, and reading this story you'll know why there is still scaffolding in the palace!25)

Besides the Palace of Justice also the Koekelberg Basilica will play a part in the story 26).

In the 107th issue of Casemate magazine, François Schuiten told that the 2018 deadline will be sometime mid 2019. He had finished 30 of the 83 pages. Although Olrik will not appear in the plot, it is possible that there are a couple of sequences in the Great Pyramid of Egypt 27).

François Schuiten has visited the pyramids when he worked on the Scan Pyramids project.

There are several layers in this book: this palace whose abandonment symbolises Belgium; a tribute to an abused author, whose heritage has been stolen; the conjunction with the discovery of a huge hall in the heart of the pyramid of Giza, who joins the mythical album of Jacobs28)

Graphical design

The graphical team will be François Schuiten and Laurent Durieux. They worked together on several screen print posters. During their joint exhibition in Paris they explained that they also worked together on the last page of Revoir Paris. In that page Schuiten and Peeters give their view on future London 29).

François Schuiten has made the black and white version of the album. Laurent Durieux will do the coloring. After Schuiten delivered the pages in May 2018 at publisher Dargaud, Durieux posted on Facebook that he will be busy for the next 6 months to color all the pages 30)

In an interview with Tout le Baz'Art we saw both artist work together. Schuiten has made the black and white pages with many small stripes and Durieux is translating these strips and greys to colour. Sometimes he adds colour behind the strips, sometimes the strips are coloured. According to Schuiten the colours of Durieux tell a story.

The announcement poster for the Schuiten/Durieux exhibition also contains a hint to their Blake and Mortimer work: a flying wing. In an interview with BFM.tv they mentioned that the Blake and Mortimer album will include a small Atlantic 12 train 31), a hint back to the La Douce album by François Schuiten and the series of screen prints Schuiten did with Durieux.

In September 2017 a serigraphy was published with bibliophile edition of Blake & Mortimer 13. The design is by Ted Benoit and the colours by Laurent Durieux 32).

First sketches

During the development of the album no artwork or designs have been shared. But in an interview with François Schuiten by Arte (March 2017) we got a first glimpse of the sketches of the Blake and Mortimer album 33).

and the Centaur Club enhanced the image of Gunzig posing for Schuiten to show the sketches of the scenario Schuiten is working on 34).

Also during the interview with Tout le Baz'Art we get some glimpses of the artwork and the colours.

Mysterious portfolio

Centaur Club published in their forum 35) late 2016 some images of a portfolio by François Schuiten. For the occasion of the publication of the Blake and Mortimer album Schuiten worked together with Gilles Ziller of International Archives. They made a portfolio of 5 screenprints, numbered and signed, put together in a velvet cardboard. The box dimensions are 570 x 770 mm. The prints are limited to 40-77 copies. The portfolio has not been for sale.

The portfolio reuses an image of Eugen Robick that was used for a serigraph by Ziller before:

and reuses an image that François Schuiten has made before for the La Marque Jaune portfolio by Archives internationales.

The two other images are situated in the Palais de Justice de Bruxelles.

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