European Comics in Official and Fan Translations


Marcel Gotlib

Marcel Gotlib

Marcel Gotlib is one of the major Franco-Belgian comics authors.

Both artist and talented writer, he's collaborated with other prestigious authors such as Franquin, René Goscinny, Alexis, Albert Uderzo and Mandryka. It is with the latter and Claire Bretécher that he founded the newspaper L'Écho des savanes in 1972.

Gotlib also launched his own magazine in 1975, Fluid glacial. He is also known for his work in film, both for his screenplay and his appearances in front of the camera. Gotlib was born on July 14th , 1934 in Paris. Like any other kid, he exercised his talents by covering the walls of the family apartment with graffiti, that his father, a decorator by trade, would wash off regularly: "Every Sunday my murals would disappear like magic. I always had clean surfaces to start making dirty again. After school, he divided himself between three jobs: an accountant for a pharmaceutical business by day, a student of applied arts in the evenings, and amateur dramatics on Sundays.

The latter had somewhat unexpected results: while he was rehearsing at a friend's place, he got wind that his friend's father was the illustrator for "Le Pèlerin".

Much Excited by this discovery, he took his portfolio to Journal de Mickey and got a place as a letterer in studio Édi-Monde. After twenty-eight months of military service in Germany, he landed some work - coloring children's books and stories - which he did with a certain Claudie.

In 1962, he submitted his portfolio to "Valiant", married Claudie and went on holiday. Upon his return, everybody wanted him: he was asked to create one page of "Vaillant" per week. And thus the "Nanar and Jujube" series came to be, the series which gave Gai-Luron his big break, the alleged cousin of Buster Keaton and Droopy, who was brought into "Valiant", and afterwards "Pif Gadget" until 1971.

But what really obsessed Gotlib was Pilote. He'd dream of it at night, but wouldn't dare actually approach them. "It was the flagship of the whole world, but for a beginner like me, it was unthinkable." From time to time he called the editorial board... and hung up. Finally, shaking with fear, he went in one day in 1965 carrying samples of his work - six pages telling of the torment of a comic book author who thinks his work is not suitable for print.

Comics of the time were more or less monopolized by heroes (Tintin, Tarzan), not at all featuring any subject matter regarding the existential problems of an author. But Pilote published his story, and, three months later, Goscinny asked Gotlib to work with him on "Dingodossiers".

Needless to say, Gotlib was delighted and extremely honored, but also just plain terrified! For Goscinny, who was used to working with big artists like Uderzo and Morris, it felt a bit feeble. And it actually was a bit at the begninning. Gotlib learned through practice by drawing traffic jams, lighthouses and all kinds of purely decorative stuff - Goscinny loved the illustrations.

Two albums of "Dingodossiers" (Dargaud), in the spirit of the American satirical magazine Mad, appeared in 1967 and 1972. "Dingodossiers", ahead of its time, got a rather cool reception, and Gotlib was reprimanded by his friends: he should really create a hero, because this kind of comic book is going nowhere! In fact, it led him straight to "Rubrique-à-Brac", that Gotlib took on in 1968, when Goscinny, overwhelmed with the "Asterix" boom and the work that followed, asked Gotlib to continue solo. In 1970 he wrote the script to "Les Clopinettes" (illustrated by Mandryka), and "Cinémastock" - a fun piece that owes as much to Gotlib's ludicrous talent as it does to Alexis' fabulous illustrations.

In 1971 for "Rock and Folk" he created a rather scathing parody of scouting called "Hamster jovial".

In 1972, with Lob, he created the series "Superdupont", which, 10 years later, was adapted to theatre by Jérôme Savary and his Grand Magic Circus. Superdupont is (as the name suggests) a French superhero, with all the chauvinistic clichés imaginable, which at the time was a great success.

Also in 1972, with Bretécher and Mandryka, he launched L'Écho des savanes. This pushed the boundaries even further, bringing out the funny side of serious matters like God, sex and scatology: "Rhââh lovely!" (1976). It started just as entertainment for his friends and his milkman, but the explosion of L'Echo, which only lasted 10 issues for the trio, ended up making quite a splash the world of comics.

In 1973 he played a prison guard in "The Year 01", by Jacques Doillon, Gébé, Alain Resnais and Jean Rouch. He can also be seen in 1974 film "Les Doigts dans la tête", by Jacques Doillon, and in 1986 in "Je hais les acteurs", by Gérard Krawczyk. He is (obviously) the hero of "And my Name is Marcel Gotlib", a short film by Patrice Leconte, that was unfortunately censored and never released. He returned to the big screen in 2002 in "Le Nouveau Jean-Claude", by Didier Tronchet, and also in 2003 in "Les Clés de bagnole", by Laurent Baffie.

In 1976, he co-wrote "Les Vécés étaient fermés de l'intérieur" (Patrice Leconte's first feature-length film), with Coluche (also his first feature-length film) and Jean Rochefort. The same year, with his childhood friend Jacques Diament he founded the monthly Fluid glacial magazine, which managed to avoid all the problems usually encountered by that type of press. It was in these pages, in 1981, that he created "Pervère Grandpa" - one of his last graphic exploits before gradually abandoning drawing in the 80s.

He then devoted himself to editing Fluid glacial. Gotlib was knighted for the Arts and Letters in 1975, afterwards becoming a Knight of the Légion d'honneur. In 1991, he received the Angoulême Grand Prize, and had an exhibition dedicated to him the following year - "EuroGotlibLand".

He received the Raymond-Poïvet prize, again at Angoulême, in 2001 (like Uderzo and Pétillon) and the Saint-Michel Grand Prize in 2007. After writing and hosting numerous pieces for Fluid glacial, in 1993 he published "J'existe, je me suis rencontré" (Flammarion), an autobiographical novel full of humor and emotion, in which he tells of his life as a Jewish child during the occupation.

More recently, his cult works have been brought together in various compilations: "Rubrique-à-Brac" (2002), "Cinémastock" (2005) and "Les Dingodossiers" (2005), published by Dargaud; "Nanar, Jujube et Piette" (2006), published by Glénat.

In 2015, Superdupont celebrated his return to Dargaud, with Gotlib and Karim Belkrouf's script and illustrations by François Boucq.