Posts Tagged ‘Barbar’

Illustration | Comic Art @ Serious Prices

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Nat Neujean, Tin Tin et Milou, 1976
Bronze, 180 cm
Estimate €140,000 > 180,000

Bande Dessinée / Comic Strip Art
Paris | France
Exhibition until 6pm today
Auction 7 March 2015

Blutch, Vous n’avez encore rien vu, 2012.
Poster for the film by Alain Resnais, 2012

Pastel on paper
Estimate €3,000 > 3,500

Gabriele del’Otto,
Amazing Spiderman 682,
Arc Ends of the Earth
, 2012.

Alternative cover illustration
Mixed media on paper
Estimate €4,800 > 5,000

Floc’h, Michelle Obama’s Fashion Show
Cover of The New Yorker’s
The Style Issue, 16 March 2009

Mixed media
Estimate €2,200 > 2,500

Like many of my peers during the latter years of the 1960s, in my teens I collected American comics. And I suppose because he was supposed to be a teenager too, DC Comics‘ Superboy was a particular favourite. Naturally I also liked Superman, Batman, and The Flash. I admired the Marvel Comics’ superhero Daredevil, who, even though he had been blinded by radiation – in the process gaining super powers – managed to look great and perform amazing feats. The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Spiderman and Thor were more Marvel favourites, and I used to scare myself half to death with DC Comics’ Tales from the Crypt.

They had no connection to DC Comics, but I had grown up with DC Thomson & Co Limited’s children’s weeklies, The Beano, Topper and The Dandy, and later, The Victor and The Hotspur, and when I delivered newspapers, I always looked forward to reading the Oor Wullie strip in the Scottish paper The Sunday Post, before pushing it through one of my regular letterboxes. Oor Wullie means Our Willie. Originally created by DC Thompson editor R D Low in 1936, it was drawn for many years by Dudley D Watkins (1907 > 1969). Our Wullie’s trademarks are spiky hair, dungarees and an upturned bucket, which he often uses as a seat. When our own kids reached the right age, my wife and I regularly bought them Oor Wullie, and The Broons annuals for Christmas, which they – and we – read over and over again, and which their friends were always keen to borrow.

Hergé, Le petit vingtiéme.
Recto: Tintin, honneur au jubilaire.
Cover illustration, Le petit vingtième,
#49, 15 December 1938
Indian ink and white gouache on paper
Verso: Tintin, Fifth Anniversary
Journal Tintin Belgian #39,
26 September 1951.
Cover illustration rough
Pencil on paper
© Hergé-Moulinsart
Estimate €450,000 > 480,000

On trips to Paris, we always made a bee-line to FNAC in the rue de Rennes, spending hours leafing through the illustrated books, especially the Barbar stories, begun originally in 1931 by Jean de Brunhoff, who died in 1937, and continued from 1946 by his son Laurent (b 1925). Although they weren’t actually in comic book form, each story was constructed with lots of sequential, situational drawings. It was possible to ‘get’ the story, even without reading the French text – which neither of us could. Our other favourites were The Adventures of Tin Tin, created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name Hergé. I, at least knew these illustrators’ names and work, but there was a huge raft of contemporary illustrated comics and comic books available in the shop, full of the most amazing work, that wasn’t, to my knowledge at the time, to be got anywhere in the UK, except for a single, poky shop called Forbidden Planet, off Tottenham Court Road in central London. There had been others – Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed, started in 1969, which had followed another called Weird Fantasy, but Forbidden Planet, founded in 1975, outlived them and today claims to be the world’s biggest chain of comic shops, with massive online sales. Now, as the Japanese manga phenomenon proliferates and the graphic novel becomes ever more popular, Sotheby’s Bande Dessinée / Comic Strip Art sale, tomorrow, is a timely opportunity to sample a broad, international cross section of the genre, via the exhibition, the sale, the online catalogue or the printed version, available via their website.

Jacques de Loustal,
Le Gardien 2013

Oil on canvas

Frank Miller, Sin City,
Volume 3, The Big Fat Kill
Vertige Graphic, 1996

Indian ink on paper
Estimate €15,000 > 18,000

Ana Miralles, Djinn
Novel illustration
Mixed techniques on paper
Estimate €12,000 > 15,000

On leaving university, my first job had been at The Sunday Times – at that point, incidentally, owned by DC Thompson. In my thirties and early forties, as Art Editor of The Sunday Times Magazine – a weekly supplement to the newspaper – I was probably commissioning more illustration than anyone else in magazines (except, perhaps the art editor at The Radio Times) in London. The Sunday Times Magazine didn’t run a cartoon strip, but when I was asked to redesign Watchword the children’s magazine of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (which The Sunday Times supported) its editor was keen to have one in it. We settled on the idea of a girl and a boy who would make discoveries in the natural world together. I came up with their names: Flora & Fauna which became the strip’s title. I believe it ran for around five years. It was my first and only involvement with the commissioning of comic strip illustration.

All images courtesy Sotheby’s

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Exhibition | Babar’s 80th Birthday

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Les histoires de babar

Les arts décoratifs, Paris, France. 8th December 2011–2nd September 2012

‘Aaagh!’ yelled Lesley as she slid down and bounced on to the floor from a giant slide in the shape of an elephant and intended for use by small children, permanently damaging her tailbone. It was around 1978. Boyfriend and girlfriend, we were at a small exhibition illustrator friends had enthused over, in Paris’s then pre-gentrification, down-at-heel Marais district. This was our first introduction to Babar the Elephant, created by the Brunhoff family, who would play a significant role – after we married – in our, and our two daughters’ education.

Babar himself was born in 1930. Cécile de Brunhoff, mother of Laurent and Mathieu, then five and four years old, told them a story about a little elephant who lived in the jungle but became an orphan, his mother having been killed by a hunter, who makes his way to the big city and learned the ways of humans before returning home to become king of the elephants. The story would have remained merely a memory had the boys not then told it to their portrait painter father, Jean de Brunhoff. Enchanted by the tale, he produced a watercolour album entitled The Story of Babar the Little Elephant. When the boys showed their uncle Lucien Vogel – influential publishing figure and founder of reportage photography magazine Vu – the album, he was so impressed that he persuaded Jean to have it published in 1931. It was an instant bestseller. Six albums followed – millions of copies were sold between 1931 and 1939 – in which Jean developed his talents as an illustrator, combining his skills as a painter, storyteller and observer. Jean de Brunhoff, however, died of tuberculosis in 1937. At this point his brother Michel, who had become editor at French Vogue asked Laurent, then only 12, to do the colouring for some pages of two as yet unpublished albums. After the war, Laurent, then 20, continued the series producing some 40 albums himself, beginning with Babar’s Cousin, That Rascal Arthur. He carried on with many of his father’s characters: Babar, Celeste, Arthur, the Old Lady, Cornelius, Zephyr the monkey and the three children, Pom, Flora, and Alexander but over the years added many others. Laurent’s style was subtly different from his father’s but no-one seemed to notice and attributed the gap in publishing to the war.

This retrospective exhibition at Les arts décoratifs in Paris is a celebration of Barbar’s life. Now 80 years old, he made his TV debut in 1949 and went on to become an international star of animated film. However, in the early 1980s when our kids were born, Babar was not well-known in the UK and the albums were only available in French. Francophiles but not French speakers, loving the illustrations, we bought the books anyway and found the stories, albeit sophisticated, so easy to follow intuitively, by way of the drawings, that we were able to take the children through them and at the same time, improve our own understanding of the language. Meanwhile – Lesley’s coccyx never having quite recovered – our children grown up and left home, the precious Barbar albums remain with us to be rediscovered some day by their children, our grandchildren.

Illustrations from top
Jean de Brunhoff, original watercolour for The story of Babar, pp 20-21, 1931
Laurent de Brunhoff, original watercolour for Babar’s Cousin: That Rascal Arthur,
pp 4-5, 1946
Illustrations courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum Collection, New York, USA

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