In the life of an author, taking on the adventures of one of the sacred monsters of Franco-Belgian comics makes a mark on a man. Ask Fabcaro or Conrad (Asterix), Jean Bastide (Boule et Bill), Jul or even Achdé (Lucky Luke)… Delaf, a Quebec author (Les Nombrils), rubs shoulders with the work of Franquin with Gaston , the laziest but also inventive hero of Franco-Belgian comics. This Return of Lagaffe, in bookstores on November 22, is an event in several ways. Firstly because since 1999, and the publication of a posthumous album by Franquin, there had been no new gags from the whimsical mail sorter. The only “new” story – since the cartoon sticks to the comic strip – was that of a film at the cinema which had managed to be unanimously against it. Then, because of a year-long legal standoff between Dupuis and Franquin's daughter, this volume 22 of Gaston almost never saw the light of day.
So, was it worth the wait? Yes, in part. The drawings are precise, detailed, chiseled, faithful to Franquin's style. As such we feel that Delaf has worked well on his subject, to get as close as possible to the “truth” of the master.
On the screenplay side too, this album could also have been written by Franquin. Our mail sorter doesn't work any more than before and always spends his time inventing more or less "crazy" machines. We are pleased to see the whole range of characters who made the series successful: Mademoiselle Jeanne (still in love with Gaston), Prunelle (Rogntudju!), Monsieur De Mesmaeker (and his contracts), Longtarin, etc. The famous yellow Fiat 509 is not missing a bolt. Everything runs, everything is fluid. Too much? This is our only regret. Beyond a few timid nods to current events (pandemic, iPhone...), and fleeting narrative liberties, such as the return of Fantasio or the sequence of the theft of Franquin's boards, this album remains very classic. However, it was in these intervals that we had the most fun. We hadn't seen Gaston for such a long time. We would have liked to know what he thinks today of social networks, emails, teleworking, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, self-service scooters... Maybe next time?
»The Return of Lagaffe» (T22), Dupuis, released November 22, 2023, 48 pages, 12.50 euros.