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Jean-Michel Charlier

Born in 1924 in Luettich, France, Jean Michel Charlier was to become the most influential scriptwriter of Franco-Belgian comics. In 1945 he started work as a draughtsman for the Studio Troisfontaines in Brussels, publisher of the comic magazine "Spirou". The following year he met artist Victor Hubinon, who was to illustrate 3 of Charlier's series. Their first collaboration, in 1946, was "L'Agonie du Bismarck" for Spirou's series "Oncle Paul". Charlier not only scripted the four page comic but also drew the ships and airplanes. In 1947 Charlier and Hubinon began the aviation comic "Buck Danny" (continued after Hubinon's 1979 death by Francis Bergèse.) However the album publication of the series did not occur until 1951, and the pair had to find other jobs to survive: Charlier got a pilots license in 1949 and flew for the airline SABENA for a year.

In 1950 Charlier created "Tiger Joe" for "La Libre Junior", again drawn by Hubinon. Charlier followed this by writing three adventures for Joseph "Jijé" Gillian's series "Valhardi", then drawn by Eddy Paape. He also continued to supply scripts for "Oncle Paul". In 1955 Charlier wrote "Belloy" for the future "Astérix" artist Albert Uderzo.

In 1959 Charlier, Hubinon, Uderzo and René Goscinny founded the comics magazine "Pilote". Charlier became editor-in-chief of the new magazine, also writing "The Red Corsair", illustrated by Hubinon, and "Mick Tangy" by Uderzo for the first issue.

A 1963 visit to the United States inspired Charlier to create a western series for Pilote, "Fort Navajo", with the then-little-known Jean Giraud as illustrator. Giraud had worked as an assistant to Jijé (Joseph Gillian) on the popular western strip "Jerry Spring" in the 1950's but had then left comics for commercial illustration. The "Fort Navajo" strip, eventually renamed "Lieutenant Blueberry" after its main character, became a milestone of Franco-Belgian comics as Charlier and Giraud explored new storytelling ideas. When Giraud left the strip in 1975 to achieve fame as 'Moebius', Charlier continued it with Colin Wilson as artist.

Charlier left his editorial position at Pilote in 1972, working in French television until 1976. He then became editor-in-chief for Tintin magazine for two years.

Jean-Michel Charlier died in 1989.

written by Andy Etris

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