Angoulême (AFP)

Comic strip characters born in 1938 and somewhat fallen into disuse, Tif and Tondu, classic of Franco-Belgian comics, are given a new lease of life under the magic brush of Blutch and the loose pen of his brother Robber.

"I have never found Tif and Tondu old-fashioned and old-fashioned," says Blutch, designer who knows practically everything, winner of the Angoulême Grand Prix in 2009.

Eleven years after this consecration, Blutch is back in Angoulême where the 47th edition of the comic book festival opened on Thursday to present "Mais Où est Kiki" (Dupuis), a new adventure of the two heroes created by Fernand Dineur in 1938 and whose last album, worn by the designer Will (disappeared in 2000), was released in 1997.

"That's why it was tempting to take over Tif and Tondu," Blutch laughs during an interview with AFP. "Tif and Tondu were forgotten, in the closet, abandoned", indignantly smiles the designer.

Tif the bald and Tondu the bearded, reviewed by Blutch and Robber, have become writers, "justi-novelists", specifies Robber, proud of the discovery of this suitcase word.

Besides, a novel written by Tif and Tondu does exist. Printed in a few copies by Dupuis, this novel entitled "The Wild Antiquarian" can be read as a prequel to comics. It is above all a wonderful detective novel that we read with relish. The text (actually signed by Robber) is worthy of the best books by Donald Westlake as the dialogues are lively, funny and punchy.

Mirror effect, the album begins during a signing session of the true-false novel in a bookstore.

- Immortal heroes -

Blutch and his brother (one is bald and the other is bearded!) Did not want to make a pastiche. Both readers and authors, their album can be read as a sincere tribute to the creators of the series and in particular to Will, Maurice Rosy and Maurice Tillieux. "I tried to maintain the wonder of the reader that I was," says Blutch.

The action takes place at the end of the 1980s. We come across tough criminals, dropped police officers, a lookalike by Pierre Bellemare, keeper of the ladle Goulag Klub, an invisibility cloak and of course the Countess Amélie, known as Kiki, kidnapped and imprisonment. The story is carried out at full speed.

Jazz enthusiast, Blutch had already revisited his classics in the album "Variations" where he paid homage to the titles that had influenced him the most from Nickel-plated Feet to Lucky Luke. His passion for Scroogeep has remained intact.

The idea of ​​revisiting Tif and Tondu "goes back a long way" recalls Blutch. At the request of his brother, Robber embarked on this "slightly crazy gamble" to write a screenplay (his first comic book screenplay!). Blutch admits that it took "three, four years" to draw this story.

The result is magnificent but there is no question of resuming the series. The album will remain unique. Another novel by Tif and Tondu is however not excluded. "I would be happy to write a second novel," says Robber.

This new album by a legendary duo of comics is the latest avatar of a strong trend in the ninth art: to resuscitate the forgotten heroes of comics.

In recent months, contemporary authors have taken up great classics. Emile Bravo's Spirou is on its way to becoming a classic itself, Joann Sfar and Christophe Blain have taken over the Blueberry from Charlier and Jean Giraud, Blake and Mortimer have given themselves a new lease of life, Jul has become the screenwriter of Lucky Luke who continues his lonely path without Morris, Mickey has been revisited by designers like Cosey or Lewis Trondheim. Corto Maltese, Ric Hochet, Alix and of course Asterix always respond

© 2020 AFP