Blueberry is Western comic series created in the Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées (BD) tradition by the Belgian scriptwriter Jean-Michel Charlier and French comics artist Jean "Mœbius" Giraud. It chronicles the adventures of Mike Blueberry on his travels through the American Old West. Blueberry is an atypical western hero; he is not a wandering lawman who brings evil-doers to justice, nor a handsome cowboy who "rides into town, saves the ranch, becomes the new sheriff and marries the schoolmarm." In any situation, he sees what he thinks needs doing, and he does it.
The series spawned out of the 1963 Fort Navajo comics series, originally intended as an ensemble narrative, but which quickly gravitated around the breakout character "Blueberry" as the main and central character after the first two stories, causing the series to continue under his name later on. The older stories, released under the Fort Navajo moniker, were ultimately reissued under the name Blueberry as well in later reprint runs. Two spin-offs series, La Jeunesse de Blueberry (Young Blueberry) and Marshal Blueberry, were created pursuant the main series reaching its peak in popularity in the early 1980s.
Blueberry as drawn by Jean Giraud
|Publisher||Dargaud, Le Lombard, Fleurus (maison d'édition), Hachette, Novedi, Alpen Publishers, Dupuis|
|Publication date||Main series: 1963–2007|
Young Blueberry: 1968-
Marshal Blueberry: 1991-2000
|Main character(s)||Mike S. Blueberry (born as Michael Steven Donovan)|
|Created by||Jean-Michel Charlier|
|Written by||Jean-Michel Charlier (1963-1989†),|
Jean Giraud (1990-2012†)
François Corteggiani (1990-)
|Artist(s)||Jean "Mœbius" Giraud (1963-2012)|
Jijé (1964, 1965)
Colin Wilson (1985-1994)
William Vance (1991-1993)
Michel Blanc-Dumont (1998-)
Michel Rouge (1980, 2000)
|Colorist(s)||Claude Poppé (1963-1965)|
Jean Giraud (1966-2012)
Évelyne Tranlé (1970, 1972, 1979-1981)
Fraisic Marot (1983)
Janet Gale (1985-1994)
Florence Breton (1990-1999)
Claudine Blanc-Dumont (1993-2012†)
Claire Champeval (2003)
Scarlett (coloriste) (2005)
Jocelyne Etter-Charrance (2015-)
Born on 30 October 1843 on Redwood Plantation near Augusta, Georgia, Michael Steven Donovan is the son of a rich Southern planter and starts out life as a decided racist. On the brink of the American Civil War, Donovan is forced to flee north after being framed for the murder of his fiancée Harriet Tucker's father, a plantation owner. On his flight toward the Kentucky border, he is saved by Long Sam, a fugitive African-American slave from his father's estate, who paid with his life for his act of altruism. Inspired when he sees a blueberry bush, Donovan chooses the surname "Blueberry" as an alias when rescued from his Southern pursuers by a Union cavalry patrol (during his flight war had broken out between the States). After enlisting in the Union Army, he becomes an enemy of discrimination of all kinds, fighting against the Confederates (although being a Southerner himself, first enlisting as a bugler in order to avoid having to fire upon his former countrymen), later trying to protect the rights of Native Americans. He starts his adventures in the Far West as a lieutenant in the United States Cavalry shortly after the war. On his many travels in the West, Blueberry is frequently accompanied by his trusted companions, the hard-drinking deputy Jimmy McClure, and later also by "Red Neck" Wooley, a rugged pioneer and army scout.
In his youth, Giraud had been a passionate fan of American Westerns and Blueberry has its roots in his earlier Western-themed works such as the Frank et Jeremie shorts, which were drawn for Far West magazine when he was only 18 – also having been his first sales as free-lancer – , the Western short stories he created for the magazines from French publisher Fleurus (his first professional tenured employment as comic artist in the period 1956-1958), and his collaboration with Joseph "Jijé" Gillain on an episode of the latter's Jerry Spring series in 1960, which appeared in the Belgian comics magazine Spirou ("fr:La Route de Coronado", issues 1192 – 1213, 1961), aside from his subsequent Western contributions to Benoit Gillian's (son of Jijé) short-lived comic magazine Bonux-Boy (1960/61). Directly before he started his apprenticeship at Jijé, Jean Giraud had already approached Jean-Michel Charlier on his own accord, asking him if he was interested in writing scripts for a new western series for publication in Pilote, the just by Charlier co-launched legendary French comic magazine. Charlier refused on that occasion, claiming he never felt much empathy for the genre. Biographer fr:Gilles Ratier though, has noted that Charlier, when he felt he was preaching to the choir, had the tendency to "take liberties" with actual events for dramatic effect. Charlier had in effect already written several Westerns, both comics and illustrated short prose stories, in the period 1949-1959 for various previous magazines. One such short entailed the text comic "Cochise" in Jeannot magazine, July 1957, dealing with the historical "Bascom Affair", which six years later would become the apotheosis of the first Blueberry story, "Fort Navajo". Furthermore, Charlier had already visited the South-West of the United States in 1960, resulting in several Native-American themed educational Pilote editorials.
In 1962, the magazine sent Charlier on a reporting assignment around the world for its editorials, and one of his last 1963 ports of call was Edwards Airforce Base in the Mojave Desert, California. He took the opportunity to (re-)discover the American West, returning to France with a strong urge to write a western. First he asked Jijé to draw the series, but Jijé, a lifelong friend and collaborator of Charlier, thought there would be a conflict of interest, since he was then a tenured artist at Spirou, a competing comic magazine, which published his own Western comic Jerry Spring, and in which he was very much invested. In his stead, Jijé proposed his protégé Giraud as the artist. A happy coincidence was that Giraud was also intimately familiar with the landscapes that had inspired Charlier, as he already had been on an extended stay of nine months in Mexico in 1956, where the endless blue skies and unending flat plains of Mexico's northern deserts had "cracked open his mind".
Blueberry was first published in the October 31, 1963 issue of Pilote magazine – hence Charlier's corresponding October 30 birth-date for his fictional character, when the magazine was printed and ready for dissemination. Initially titled "Fort Navajo", the story grew into 46 pages over the following issues. In this series Blueberry – whose physical appearance was inspired by French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo – was only one of many protagonists; the series was originally intended to be an assemble narrative, but quickly gravitated towards Blueberry as the central and primary character, even though the series' (sub-)title Fort Navajo, une Aventure du Lieutenant Blueberry was maintained for a decade by original publisher Dargaud for the numerous reprint, and international, runs, before the "Fort Navajo" (sub-)moniker was finally dropped in 1973 with the book publication of "L'homme qui valait 500 000 $" ("The Half-a-Million Dollar Man"). Charlier came up with the name during his American trip: "When I was traveling throughout the West, I was accompanied by a fellow journalist who was just in love with blueberry jam, so much in love, in fact, that I had nicknamed him 'Blueberry'. When I began to create the new series, and everything started to fall into place, I decided to reuse my friend's nickname, because I liked it and thought it was funny. [...] I had no idea that he would prove so popular that he would eventually take over the entire series, and later we would be stuck with that silly name!" In an anecdote, Charlier related how caught off guard he had been, "My memory is a somewhat like a sieve. In the first album, Blueberry was called Steve. I forgot that first name and then I named him Mike. So, in order to get things straight, I coined him Mike Steve Blueberry eventually; This kind of forgetfulness happens to me often."
Due to the fact that Blueberry became the most popular character so early on in the Fort Navajo story-arc, Charlier was forced to do an about-face and started to write out the other main characters he had in place in order to make room for Blueberry. However, in one instance that had an unexpected side effect; when Charlier killed off the Native-American lieutenant Crowe in the fifth and last installment of the story-arc, "La piste des Navajos" ("Trail of the Navajo"), the editorial offices of Pilote received many angry letters from readers accusing Charlier of murdering a sympathetic protagonist. Taken aback, Charlier later stated, "It was too late to do anything about it, it was done. A strange experience, Giraud in particular took it very hard." Still, while all characters slated for prominence were written out, Blueberry excepted, one major, recurrent secondary character was written in over the course of the story arc in "Le cavalier perdu" ("Mission to Mexico"), Blueberry's trusted friend and sidekick Jimmy McClure. Actually, and by his own admission, Charlier had originally written McClure as a temporary, minor background character, but Giraud was so taken with the character that he asked Charlier to expand his role in the series, and which stands out as the earliest known instance of Giraud exercising influence on the scripts of his senior colleague.
In post-war Europe, it has been tradition to release comics in "pre-publication" as serialized magazine episodes, before publication as a comic book, or rather comic album (in North-American understanding though, "graphic novel" is the more applicable terminology in this case, the distinction being a non-issue in native France), typically with a one to two year lag. In French, Blueberry has firstly seen pre-publication in Pilote (issue 210, 31 October 1963 – issue 720, 23 August 1973) and fr:Super Pocket Pilote (issue 1, 1 July 1963 – issue 9, 19 October 1970) from publisher Dargaud, the parent and main publisher of Blueberry, with Giraud frequently creating original Blueberry art for the magazine covers and illustrations for editorials, aside from creating on occasion summarizing, introduction plates, none of which reprinted in the original book editions. Nonetheless, much of this material did find its way in later reprint variations, particularly in the editorials of the 2012 (trade) main series anthology collection – invariably called "integrals" in their respective languages in mainland Europe – of parent publisher Dargaud, and in those of their licensees such as Egmont for their earlier German/Danish/Norwegian 2006-2011 all-series integral edition collection
The very first (French) Blueberry comic album, "Fort Navajo", was released in September 1965 and originally appeared as the 17th (and last) volume of the La Collection Pilote series. Actually, this collection had been an initiative of Charlier himself in his function as publishing co-editor, and the 17 titles in the collection were in effect Dargaud's first comic album releases, and an influential release at that. In order to give these releases a more "mature" image, the books were from the start executed as hard cover editions. Favorably received and though not being the first, the hard cover format became the norm in France definitively, where henceforth all comic albums were executed in the format – becoming indeed generally accepted as a mature part of French culture eventually – , whereas the vast majority of the other European countries continued to employ the soft cover format for decades to come, somewhat reflecting the status comic books had in their societies at the time. These included for the time being French-Belgium as well, Charlier's native country, where exactly the same collection was concurrently licensed to, and released by Le Lombard, albeit as soft cover only. Charlier's initiative was not entirely devoid of a healthy dose of self-interest, as over half the releases in the collection, were, aside from Blueberry, titles from other comic series he had co-created. After "Fort Navajo", the collection was suspended and each comic hero hitherto featured therein, spun off in book series of their own, including Blueberry or rather Fort Navajo, une Aventure du Lieutenant Blueberry as it was then still coined.
After Dargaud had lost publishing rights for over a decade for new Blueberry titles to firstly German publisher de:Koralle-Verlag and subsequently to Belgian publisher Novedi, as a result from a conflict with the creators over Blueberry royalties, the series has seen, predominantly one-time only, French pre-publication in such comic magazines as Métal Hurlant, L'Écho des savanes and Super As. Other European countries followed the same template with local magazines. However, the format, for decades a staple in Europe and shaping entire generations of comic readers, went out of vogue in the late 1980s/early 1990s and the vast majority of European comic magazines have since then become defunct by the mid 1990s, including those from Belgium, the country were the phenomenon was born in the late 1930s. Ironically, while "Le bout de la piste" ("The End of the Trail") and "Arizona Love" became main series titles to see serialized pre-publication elsewhere, neither were serialized as such in France itself, where "La tribu fantôme" ("The Ghost Tribe") had previously become the very last Blueberry title pre-published as such in L'Écho des savanes. Henceforth, new Blueberry titles were directly released in album format, starting with the 1990 La Jeunesse de Blueberry (Young Blueberry) title, "Le raid infernal". Any subsequent French magazine, or newspaper serialized publication occurred after the initial book release while Blueberry was housed at Novedi and its successor, Swiss publisher fr:Alpen Publishers, and which had actually already included "Angel Face" in Nouveau Tintin, and "La dernière carte" ("The Last Card") in Spirou previously, both having been serialized after their respective book releases.
After Charlier had died on 10 July 1989, Giraud, aside from completing "Arizona Love" on his own, wrote and drew five albums, from "Mister Blueberry" to "Dust" (constituting the OK Corral story arc), until his own death in 2012. Additionally, Giraud also scripted the intermezzo series Marshal Blueberry (1991-2000), but had no creative input for the La Jeunesse de Blueberry prequel series, after the first three, original volumes.
By the time Giraud embarked on the OK Corral cycle, publishing rights had returned to Dargaud, and that publisher decided to revitalize the magazine serialized pre-publication format as part of their marketing effort on behalf of Blueberry's return (see below), albeit with a twist; As Dargaud no longer had a comic magazine of their own (Pilote had become defunct in 1989), it was decided to farm out pre-publication to parties who showed the most interest, resulting in that Blueberry titles in that cycle became serialized in different publications, not all necessarily comic-related by origin. The summer of 1997 saw the serialization of "Ombres sur Tombstone" in the French daily newspaper Le Monde, followed by the pre-publication of "Géronimo l’Apache" in the monthly fr:BoDoï comic magazine, directly before the album release in October 1999 as part of Dargaud's substantial marketing campaign for the album. The next title, "OK Corral", was published in a similar manner in the summer of 2003 in the "L'ExpressMag" appendix of the non-comic weekly news magazine L'Express.
The mere fact that serious newspapers and magazines were by then vying for the opportunity to run Blueberry in their publications first (aside from the above-mentioned publications, the newspaper France-Soir had already run the first two outings of the revitalized La Jeunesse de Blueberry series in 1985 and 1987 – see below), was testament to the status Blueberry and its creator(s) had by then attained in French society.
With the growing popularity of Blueberry came the increasing disenchantment over financial remunerations of the series. Already in 1974, Charlier made his displeasure known in this regard, when he had "Angel Face" pre-published in Nouveau Tintin of industry competitor Le Lombard, the very first time a Blueberry adventure was not serialized in Pilote – nor would it ever be again in hindsight. The magazine was forced to drop the announcement page it had prepared for the story. Unfazed, Dargaud founder and owner Georges Dargaud, unwilling to give in, countered by having the book released before Nouveau Tintin had even had the chance to run the story. Then Giraud left on his own accord. While Charlier had no influence on this whatsoever, it did serve a purpose as far as he was concerned. Giraud had left Blueberry on a cliff-hanger with "Angel Face", resulting in an insatiable demand for more, putting the pressure on Dargaud. Whenever Georges Dargaud asked Charlier for a next Blueberry adventure, repeatedly, Charlier was now able to respond that he was "devoid of inspiration".
As a matter of fact, Giraud was dying to leave Pilote and Blueberry, partly because he was tired of the stifling publication pressure he was under in order to produce the series, partly because of the royalties conflict, but mostly because he wanted to further explore and develop his "Mœbius" alter ego. For Giraud the conflict was actually a godsend, "At that moment Charlier and I also had a financial conflict with Dargaud which came at the exact right time, because it provided me with an alibi [to leave]". The latter reason for him to leave, took on an urgency after Alejandro Jodorowsky, impressed by his Blueberry art, had already invited Giraud to come over to Los Angeles to work as concept designer and storyboard artist on his Dune movie project earlier that year, constituting the first Jodorowsky/Mœbius collaboration. Very eager to return to Los Angeles as Jodorowksy requested his presence again, Giraud – who had returned to France for his other work during one of the lulls in the Dune production – greatly accelerated his work on "Angel Face", then underway, breaking his "absolute record speed-drawing", as he had coined it, and sheared off weeks from its originally intended completion date. Giraud in overdrive was so fast that he even overtook Charlier's script pages (Charlier habitually fed his artists piecemeal with script pages, usually a couple at the time), forcing him to write ten pages of the story on his own, as Charlier was at that time on documentary assignment in the United States for French television. Upon his return, Charlier took one look at the pages completed in his absence, and continued where Giraud had left off without further much ado. Charlier himself had actually already left Dargaud in 1972, because he additionally felt ill at ease with the editorial modernization of Pilote, which resulted from the 1968 revolt at the editorial offices staged by key artists, chief among them Giraud (see also: "Giraud on his part in the uprising at Pilote"). Though Charlier continued to provide his younger colleague with scripts (but not his other artists), he started working as documentary maker for French television. It was while he was working on two documentaries on the Mexican Revolution that he gained inspiration for his below-mentioned Les Gringos Western comic series, which started its run in 1979 at Koralle.
It was the first time that Giraud wrote for Blueberry by himself, and was, considering Charlier's easy acceptance of Giraud's writing, also testament to the close, and trusting working relationship both men had cultivated by that time. Incidentally, Giraud intimated that the deteriorating circumstances at Pilote had already left its mark on him before he left, "The story was started in 1972/73 but remained shelved until 1975 [sic.]. Yet, I think one can not discern its difficult birth; there are good scenes, pages I really poured heart and soul into. It is true that [the art for] "Le hors-la-loi" ("The Outlaw") had been quite weak, but "Angel Face" made up for it".
Five years later, Giraud was ready to return to Blueberry, at long last feeling the urge again to do so, but not into the employ of Pilote/Dargaud, as he had formally terminated his position in 1974 with no intention whatsoever to return, instead plying his Blueberry trade as a freelancer, "Publishers were waving with those fat checks, so we started again. But it is no longer the same. I won't be taken in by Blueberry anymore!", referring to the first half of the 1970s when he felt smothered by his co-creation. Yet, the whole business surrounding Blueberry residuals itself remained unresolved, and in order to drive home the point the pe-publication of the eagerly awaited "Nez Cassé" ("Broken Nose") story was farmed out to Métal Hurlant magazine (published by Les Humanoïdes Associés, co-founded by Giraud in 1974, and in the US released as Heavy Metal in the mid-1970s, though the story was not run in the American version), instead of Pilote. That Charlier was able to repeat this ploy after "Angel Face" stemmed from the proviso he had built in when he signed over the publication, and copyrights of his syndication agency EdiFrance/EdiPresse – co-established in 1955 with Victor Hubinon, Albert Uderzo, and René Goscinny for the express purpose to syndicate their own and other artist's comic creations – to Dargaud in 1960. On that occasion Charlier, owning a law degree, stipulated an exemption clause for magazine (pre-)publications of his own (co-)creations. Though never intended as such, the hitherto dormant exemption clause now served him well in his conflict with Dargaud, without having to fear for any legal ramifications on Dargaud's part. Yet, Georges Dargaud refused to take the bait and the creators subsequently put forward the Jim Cutlass western comic as a last ditch effort to spell out to Dargaud that the creators had other options. Dargaud still would not budge. It was then that it became clear to Charlier, that he was left with no other option than to leave, and this he did taking all his other co-creations with him, to wit Redbeard and Tanguy et Laverdure, which, while not as popular as Blueberry, were steady money making properties for Dargaud nonetheless.
Though they were still contractually obligated to leave their most recent Blueberry title, "Nez Cassé", at Dargaud for book publication, Charlier and Giraud then threw in their lot with German publisher Koralle-Verlag – incidentally the first German language Blueberry book publisher back in the early 1970s – , a subsidiary at the time of German media giant Axel Springer SE, for their next publication, "La longue marche" ("The Long March"). The choice for the German publisher was made for their very ambitious international expansion strategy they had in place at that time. Fully subscribing to the publisher's strategy, Charlier not only revitalized his Redbeard and Tanguy et Laverdure comic series – having been equally "devoid of inspiration" for these as well in the 1974-1979 Pilote-era because of the royalties issue – , but created the new Western comic, Les Gringos (art by Victor de la Fuente), as well. Yet, for all Charlier's business acumen, he had failed to recognize that Koralle's exuberant expansion drive had essentially been a do-or-die effort on their part. In 1978 Koralle was on the verge of bankruptcy, and a scheme was devised to stave off this fate; international expansion. In the European comics world that was a rather novel idea at the time and Koralle did expand beyond the German border into large parts of Europe with variants of their main publication Zack magazine, with the revived Blueberry as its flagship, accompanied with comic book releases. It did not pay off however, as the holding company already pulled the plug in 1980, leaving Blueberry and the others quite unexpectedly without a publishing home.
It were not only the Blueberry creators that were left in a pickle, as Koralle had managed to convince other well known Franco-Belgian comic artists to switch sides. Aside from Giraud's old mentor Jijé (who, having abandoned his own Jerry Spring Western comic, was now penciling Charlier's revitalized Redbeard and Tanguy et Laverdure), these predominantly concerned artists from publishing house Le Lombard. The most prominent of the latter was Hermann Huppen with his new post-apocalyptic Western Jeremiah for which he had abandoned that other famed 1970s Franco-Belgian Western, Comanche (written by Greg), second only in renown after Blueberry at the time. Tapping into his substantial social Franco-Belgian comic network, Charlier found Jacques de Kezel – a highly influential behind-the-scenes figure of the Belgian comic world at those times, and who had actually gathered the stable of artists for Koralle – willing for Axel Springer to pass the torch to. As a token of goodwill, a relieved Springer, as they now could turn over the current contractual obligations without much further ado, even allowed the French-language version of Zack, Super As, to run for a few issues longer in order to allow as many series as possible to complete their magazine run, which included "La longue marche". De Kezel's new publishing house Les Nouvelles Editions Internationales S.A. (Novedi) was established in November 1980 with its seat in Brussels, Belgium. Part of their strategy was to forego on a magazine of their own and instead release titles directly in album format, as it was noticed that the serialized comic magazine format had already started to wane in Europe as a format (and actually one of the main reasons for Axel Springer to pull the plug on Koralle), resulting in the advantage of not having to incur the expenses of maintaining magazine editorial offices. Any still existing comic magazine elsewhere, willing to publish serialized comic series after the initial book releases, was merely considered an added bonus.
Still, it took some time for the new publisher to get up and running, and some sort of stop-gap resolution had to be found for the intervening 1979-1980 period in order to secure income for the stable of comic artists. On recommendation of Charlier, who has had previous dealings with the publisher, the catalog was legally, but temporarily, housed at the French publishing house fr:Édi-Monde of the Hachette group, who for the occasion established the equally temporary EDI-3-BD imprint, though making use of Koralle's infrastructure – allowed to continue to exist for the time being by Axel Springer – in regard to printing and distribution. As impromptu publisher, EDI-3-BD published around two dozen album titles, including "La longue marche", before turning the copyrights of these over to Novedi, which started publishing themselves in 1981. EDI-3-BD published their books for Belgium and the Netherlands themselves, but farmed out licenses for other countries, including France somewhat surprisingly, where Giraud's former alma mater and Hachette competitor Fleurus firstly became the album publisher for "La longue marche". After Novedi had become operational, the business model was adopted by them and it was decided to continue with Giraud's other alma mater Hachette for France with the subsequent titles in the Blueberry (and other) series in recognition of the help Édi-Monde had provided. Hachette incidentally, later acquired a special, one-time only license from Dargaud to reissue the entirety of the Blueberry series in 2013-2014 as the 52 volume La Collection Blueberry anthology, each volume augmented with a six-page illustrated editorial.
For a decade Blueberry resided in calm waters at Novedi. The 1980s saw three additions to the main series (completing the Rehabilitation story arc) as well as four new titles in the newly created La Jeunesse de Blueberry series. Nevertheless, despite the two Blueberry incarnations and Jeremiah being the top selling series for the publisher, it appeared that the financial base was too narrow for even a publisher the modest size of Novedi, as the publisher went out of business in 1990, after having published approximately 120 album titles, and despite having taken over the book publications for France themselves as well in the latter half of the decade. It again left Blueberry and the others without a publishing home.
On 10 July 1989, Jean-Michel Charlier passed away from a heart condition after a short sickbed. By all accounts Charlier had been a workaholic throughout his career, working simultaneously on as much as a dozen projects at any given time, steadily increasing his workload as he grew older. His heart condition had already troubled him in his later years and his death, while sudden, was not entirely a surprise. Charlier's penchant for hard work increasingly became a concern for Giraud when he visited his longtime co-worker six months before his death, "He was a work bulimic! There were always seven to eight scenarios underway. His life was a true path of self-destruction. You should have seen him working at his desk! Six months before his passing, I advised him to calm down. Very artistically, he replied: No, I have chosen this!"
Charlier, having been of a previous generation, conservative in nature and wary of science fiction in general, had never understood what his younger colleague tried to achieve as "Mœbius". Nonetheless, he never tried to hinder Giraud in the least, as he understood that an artist of Giraud's caliber needed a "mental shower" from time to time. Furthermore, Charlier was very appreciative of the graphic innovations Giraud ported over from his work as "Mœbius" into the mainstream Blueberry series, most specifically "Nez Cassé", making him "one of the all-time greatest artists in the comic medium", as Charlier himself worded it in 1982. Artist fr:Michel Rouge, who was taken on by Giraud in 1980 for the inks of "La longue marche" ("The Long March") painted a slightly different picture though. Already recognizing that the two men were living in different worlds, he noted that Charlier was not pleased with Giraud taking on an assistant, afraid that it might have been a prelude to him leaving the series in order to pursue his "experimentations" as Mœbius further. Even Giraud was in later life led to believe that Charlier apparently "detested" his other work, looking upon it as something akin to "treason", though his personal experiences with the author was that he had kept an "open mind" in this regard, at least in his case. While Charlier was willing to overlook Giraud's wanderings in his case only, he was otherwise of the firm conviction that artists, especially his own, should totally and wholeheartedly devote themselves to their craft – as Charlier always had considered the comic medium – , but which was somewhat incongruous on his part as he himself was habitually engaged in several divergent projects at any given time. This has caused many of his artists problems on a frequent basis, as he was consistently and notoriously late with his piecemeal provided script pages, including Giraud at the start of his Blueberry career. However, as he recognized quit early on that Blueberry occupied a special place in his body of work, he later made sure that (only) his Blueberry artists were provided with scripts in a timely fashion. Charlier's method of working came at a cost however, as his scripts frequently contained continuity errors on the detail level, and which included those of Blueberry, such as in his above cited instance of his hero's first name. Charlier has cited the Blueberry titles "La mine de l'allemand perdu" ("The Lost Dutchman's Mine") through "L'homme qui valait 500 000 $" ("The Half-a-Million Dollar Man") as his favorites for their "potency", both story and artwise, the latter making him the co-winner of his 1973 American comic award.
The script being one-thirds ready at the time of Charlier's passing, the completion of "Arizona Love" was postponed as Giraud needed time to come to terms with that fact. Due to his intimate twenty-five year familiarity with both the series and its writer, it was a foregone conclusion that Giraud would from then on take on the scripting of the main series as well, especially since it was already agreed upon in the "contracts signed with Jean-Michel" that "the survivor would take over the series". It was this circumstance that has led Philippe Charlier, son of the deceased author and now the heir and steward of his father's bande dessinée legacy, to make the unsubstantiated claim that Novedi was surreptitiously negotiating with Giraud only for the existing and future Blueberry series, intent on cutting the Charlier family out, which was incongruous as Novedi was already heading toward receivership, aside from the fact that Giraud has never even hinted at such alleged dealings and that no rumors have ever surfaced in the otherwise tight-knit Franco-Belgian comic community, save for the claim Charlier Jr. himself made on a single occasion in the comic journal BoDoï (issue 24, 1999). Furthermore, per French law, Charlier's widow Christine remained entitled to 10 percent of the revenues from the existing and subsequent post-Charlier Blueberry titles, which provided her with a "decent" living standard, according to son Philippe, in effect to an extent contradicting his own claim on the same occasion. As for Giraud, having to work without a safety net for the first time, came initially with bouts of self-doubt and second-guessing, as Colin Wilson (by then the new La Jeunesse de Blueberry artist) testified to, after a visit to Giraud in this period, "Janet and I visited Jean when he was working on "Arizona Love" – around May 1989 [sic.] I think. Some of the first pages he showed us then were radically different from the ones ultimately published in the album later on. I did not had the time to read the scripts for those pages he had shown us, but I know that Jean redid several pages entirely anew, before the album was eventually released". The by Giraud rejected pages were published as a bonus in the 1995 deluxe limited edition of "Mister Blueberry", a joint publication of Dargaud and Giraud's publishing house Stardom.
Stunned by the sudden death of his longtime co-worker, it took Giraud nearly five years before he could bring himself to embark on Blueberry again as artist, after completing "Arizona Love". Giraud stated that the series had lost its "father", and that the "mother needed time to mourn".
Charlier's death coincided by chance with the growing problems at Novedi, and Giraud suggested to Philippe Charlier, the heir and steward of his father's legacy, to move all his fathers co-creations to Les Humanoïdes Associés (with whom Giraud maintained close personal and creative ties after his Métal Hurlant days – which had included "Nez Cassé" – , among others by having them publish his acclaimed L'Incal series), to step up to the plate vacated by Novedi. Yet, Giraud undertook no further action himself, partly because he was still residing in the United States, too preoccupied with his own projects and the wrapping up of his affairs over there before his return to France (and thus too busy to be engaged in secret negotiations with Novedi), and partly because his marriage to his first wife Claudine was in the early stages of falling apart at the time. Charlier Jr. approached Fabrice Giger, who had bought the by Giraud co-founded publisher previously in early 1989, but did not choose for that publishing house eventually, but rather go with Giger's original, founding publishing house, Alpen Publishers, the latter had set up in 1988 in Switzerland – even though comic artists themselves, due to the close entanglement of Alpen and Humanoïdes, always referred to Alpen as "Humanos" (see quote boxes below). It turned out that Philippe was actually picking up where his father had left off. Shortly after he had established Alpen and unbeknownst to Giraud, Giger was already approached by Charlier Sr. in 1988. The veteran Charlier had already sensed the writings on the wall at Novedi and discussed plans with Giger to have all his comic creations moved over to the new publisher, and to this end had already arranged his old friend fr:Guy Vidal from his Pilote days to be hired as editor-in-chief at the new publisher, incidentally in the process doing exactly what his son had accused Novedi of. Giger disclosed in 2008 that it was on the occasion of his subsequent dealings with Philippe that the "JMC Aventures" foundation was established, intended to safeguard the commercial and artistic legacy of Charlier's body of work. "After the death of Jean-Michel, a project was born between his son, Philippe, his mother, and us, to create a structure dedicated to the continuation of the series co-created by Charlier, JMC Aventures. We were shareholders with the Charlier family," stated Giger, confirming the preliminary dealings with the author in his final year.
The relatively short tenure at Alpen saw the release of "Arizona Love", which was actually started under the aegis of Novedi, but for which Charlier had not yet contracted with the publisher because of his hunch, thus leaving the title legally "free" for JMC Aventures to be signed with Alpen, according to Giger, adding that this had the full and immediate blessing of Giraud. The artist himself though, has later expressed a slightly different opinion as evidenced in the quotebox featured below, where it was implied that he was not as happy with the behind-the-scenes machinations as Giger made it out to be, especially since his late script partner had kept him out of the loop in 1988. Ironically, it was Philippe Charlier, among others, who indirectly conceded the point when he accused Giraud of wanting "to settle scores" with Charlier Sr. with the later OK Corral-cycle, which Philippe had issues with (see below). Additional Alpen releases included the La Jeunesse de Blueberry title "Trois hommes pour Atlanta", as well as the inception of the spin-off series Marshal Blueberry with two titles, aside from additions to the Les Gringos and Redbeard series, taken over by other artists after both Jijé and Charlier Sr. had passed away. While the initial intention was to have the entire body of work of Charlier published at Alpen, the corporation with the publisher did not pan out for undisclosed reasons – though Giger had mentioned increasingly difficult copyright negotiations with other copyright holders, predominantly heirs of other artists who had worked with Charlier, the widow of Jijé in particular, who had taken Giger and Charlier Jr. to court. The relationship was ended in 1992, shortly thereafter followed by the demise of Alpen itself in 1994 with Guy Vidal moving over to Dargaud (having taken on the writing for Les Gringos after his friend's death, until his own death in 2002), though Giger himself became successful with Humanoïdes, expanding into the United States as "Humanoids Publishing Ltd." in 1999, in the process reissuing much of Giraud's "Mœbius" science fiction work.
As Belgian publisher Dupuis had already shown interest, when they serialized "La dernière carte" in their Spirou magazine in 1983, Charlier Jr. now decided to try his luck at that publishing house in 1992, as Hermann had already done previously with his Jeremiah for that matter. However, while Jeremiah has remained with Dupuis ever since, for again unknown reasons the cooperation with Blueberry did not seem to pan out either. Even though Dupuis did reissue all the (Young) Blueberry titles of the EDI-3-BD/Novedi era (but none from Alpen Publishers, or indeed any of the other Charlier creations) under its own imprint in their "Repérages" collection, no new titles were released during the equally short 1992-1993 tenure of Blueberry at that publisher.
Tiring of Giraud's inaction, Philippe Charlier ultimately took matters into his own hand, and had all his father's co-creations return to parent publisher Dargaud at the end of 1993 without apparent objections from Giraud (though he had stipulated an exemption for non-comic Blueberry art, produced either on personal title and/or for his own publishing houses Gentiane/Aedena, Starwatcher Graphics, and Stardom – see below), and it is there where Blueberry has remained ever since. The for Dargaud joyous occasion of now having acquired the copyrights of all Blueberry comic incarnations, was reason enough to ask Giraud – now serving as the sole main series artist – to embark on a new story-arc, which eventually resulted in the OK Corral cycle, the last one of the main series as it turned out to be. How thrilled Dargaud was to have reacquired Blueberry was amply demonstrated – aside from their decision to revitalize the serialized pre-publication format for Blueberry as already mentioned – in the 2000 documentary Mister Gir & Mike S. Blueberry made on the occasion of the release of "Geronimo l'Apache", in which instances were shown of the considerable marketing efforts the publisher undertook in order to promote the new album – the documentary therefore itself one such instance – , among others by having many Parisian metro stations plastered with huge Blueberry posters. Aside from this, Dargaud made use of the opportunity to clean up the by then muddied release chronology, by formalizing the establishment of the three series and restarting the album numbering for each in reprint runs. Concurrently, all international licenses were renegotiated.
Apart from foreign language publishers and constituting a break in tradition, Dargaud also started to occasionally farm out special, one-time only, series licenses to other Francophone publishers, which besides the aforementioned 2013-2014 all-series "La Collection Blueberry" from Hachette, already included the French book club fr:France Loisirs for its 2003 main series releases. Another Francophone publisher who was granted a special license for the main series only was the French-Belgian newspaper Le Soir who released its "Blueberry Intégrale" in two editions, the fifteen-volume edition of 2009, and the sixteen-volume edition of 2015. Like the France Loisirs release, each volume, save three in the end, collected two of the original albums and was only offered to newspaper readers and subscribers. The three single album volumes (No's 8, 15 and 16) were augmented with new Blueberry art, featured in a separate section and separately negotiated for with Giraud's own publisher, Mœbius Production.
Jean-Michel Charlier has never witnessed the return of his creations to the parent publisher, nor has he ever mended fences with George Dargaud – for whose publishing house Charlier had made signature contributions after all – , and who followed Charlier in death almost to the day one year later on July 18, 1990. To a large extent the publication wanderings of Blueberry has been mirrored in other European countries as well, particularly in Germany (where the era was referred to as "Der 'heimatlose' Blueberry" – "The 'homeless' Blueberry") and the Scandinavian countries (the Danes referring to the era as "Blueberrys Lange March" – "Blueberry's Long March"), where every publisher change was followed suit by similar changes among local publishers in those territories as well. How confusing this era had been, was exemplified by the aforementioned "La longue marche" title, which has been released in French by no less than six publishers in the time period 1980-2003, or even seven, if one is to include the Super As serialized magazine publication as well.
Though the 2007 "Apaches" title became the last in the main Blueberry series, as creating comics became increasingly difficult for Giraud because his eyesight started to fail him in his last years, he did continue to create single-piece Blueberry art on larger canvases on either commission basis (such as for the aforementioned Le Soir editions) or under the aegis of Mœbius Production until his own death in 2012, much of which sold for considerable prices from 2005 onward, alongside older original Blueberry art Giraud still had in his possession, in specialized comic auctions at such auction houses like Artcurial, Hôtel Drouot and Millon & Associés.
The first known English translation of Blueberry was that of the first title "Fort Navajo", and appeared 18 months after its original 1963 French magazine publication and before its very first book publication in September 1965. The first outing in the series was serialized in syndication through Charlier's own EdiFrance/EdiPresse agency (albeit on behalf of his employer Dargaud and the only Blueberry title known to have been disseminated in this manner outside Francophone Europe, Spain and Portugal) under its original title in the weekly British comic magazine Valiant, starting its edited and truncated black and white run in issue 15 May 1965 through issue 21 August 1965, fifteen issues in total. Together with the near-simultaneous and similar publication of the story in Dutch (in full and in color in Fix en Fox magazine, issues 26-41, 1965), both actually stand out as the very first known non-French publications of Blueberry, or of any other work by Giraud (but not Charlier) for that matter. However, the growing popularity of the comic elsewhere in Europe from 1967 onward notwithstanding, the Netherlands included, "Fort Navajo" remained until 1977 the only Blueberry title translated in English.
The first four English book translations of Blueberry comics were published in Europe for release in the UK in the late seventies by Danish/British joint venture Egmont/Methuen, when Egmont, holding an international license at the time, was in the process of releasing the series on a wider, international scale, for Germany and the Scandinavian countries in particular. While Egmont completed the publication of the then existing series in whole for the latter two language areas, publication of the English titles already ceased after volume 4. Parent publisher Dargaud had planned to reissue these titles and more for the North-American market in 1982/83 through their short-lived international (American) branch, but of these, only one was eventually released. That then unnoticed title, "The Man with the Silver Star", has, despite the fact that Giraud's art style had by now fully blossomed into his distinctive own, not been included in later North American collections, resulting in the book becoming an expensive rarity.
Since then better marketed English translations were published by other companies which included Marvel Comics (under its Epic imprint), Comcat, Mojo Press and Dark Horse Comics, resulting in all kinds of formats and quality—from b/w, American comic book sized budget collections to full color European graphic novel style albums with many extras. Actually this was the first time Blueberry was published under Giraud's pseudonym, Moebius. As Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier, the translator couple for all these editions, related, "This is quite ironic because Giraud first coined the 'Moebius' pseudonym precisely because he wanted to keep his two bodies of work separate. Yet, the artist recognizes the fact that he has now become better known in this country under his 'nom-de-plume,' and this is his way of making it official!" In effect, the ploy was more than opportune, as Epic had already started out with the publication of Giraud's better known science fiction work under his pseudonym – introduced to American readership through Heavy Metal in the mid-1970s – in the graphic novel format, and it was only when these were well underway that it was decided to add Blueberry as well to the array. All Giraud/Moebius titles were released by Epic in a for the US relatively modest print run of 20.000 copies per title. To make the project as economically viable as possible, it was decided to collect two of the original Blueberry titles in one book, to justify the by Americans perceived high price of around US$13, which, excepting the first two titles of the "Iron Horse" story-arc, made the Epic releases in essence "integrals" themselves.
It was for Epic that Giraud created new Blueberry book cover art (which he had only done once previously for the first four German book releases by Koralle, nor would he ever again), and to the chagrin of parent publisher Dargaud this art – as is indeed all outside the main comics proper Blueberry art, such as magazine covers, art portfolios, posters and the like, that Giraud created in this period of time for Koralle, Les Humanoïdes Associés, as well as his own publishing houses Gentiane, Starwatcher Graphics, and the subsequent Stardom – remain outside the legal purview of Dargaud, even after they had reacquired the Blueberry copyrights in 1993. In practice this means that Dargaud can not use this art at will for their own later publications, such as the 2012 anthology releases, without coming to some sort of legal and financial arrangement with the copyright holders – i.e. Giraud himself in the vast majority of cases (as of 2012, his heirs) – , as Dargaud licensees have to do as well on individual basis, and of which the short story "Three Black Birds" is the most glaring one (see below). German author Martin Jürgeit (co-author of the below-listed reference book) has confirmed being confronted with this when he served as editor-in-chief for the German-language version of Egmont's earlier mentioned anthology collection. Dead set on having all available Blueberry material included in his version, he found himself frequently frustrated in this regard on more than one occasion. He stated as late as 2012, "As things now stand, it is highly unlikely that the vast majority of this material will be included, as Dargaud does not own the copyrights. And it is only the Dargaud copyrighted material we can use for the Blueberry-Chroniken, as we have experienced to our dismay on several occasions," referring among others, aside from "Three Black Birds", to the covers for Epic as well.
The Epic publications were very shortly after their initial release collected by American specialty publisher Graphitti Designs in their "Moebius" collection – for whom Giraud created new book plate art, also outside the legal purview of Dargaud – , a deluxe limited edition anthology collection, released in a 1500 copies per volume edition, each volume at least containing two of the Epic releases. The collection, which ran for nine volumes, also contained Giraud's science fiction body of work, that was concurrently released by Epic in a similar manner. Volume Moebius #9, containing "The Lost Dutchman's Mine" and "The Ghost with the Golden Bullets", also included the non-Blueberry westerns "King of the Buffalo" (short), and the other Giraud/Charlier western strip, Jim Cutlass: "Mississippi River". Excepting the 1996 Mojo Press release, no additional Blueberry comics have been published in English since 1993, and, again excepting the Mojo Press release, no English Blueberry reprints have seen the light of day either, contrary to his other work as "Moebius".
The Epic collection earned Giraud his below listed American 1991 comic award, augmented with an additional 1997 award nomination for the Mojo Press release, whereas Blueberry in general had already earned him two American comic awards in 1972 and 1973, long before the series had even come to the attention of North-American readership.
|#||French title (original magazine publication)||French original book release (publisher, yyyy/mm, ISBN1)||English saga title/French story arc||English title and data||Notes|
|0(29)||Apaches (n/a)||Dargaud, 2007/10, ISBN 9782205060799||one-shot (Lieutenant Blueberry)2||not translated||"0"-Volume in France, Volume 29 for other countries.|
|1||Fort Navajo (Pilote, issues 210-232, Dargaud, 1963/64)||Dargaud, 1965/09, n/a||Lieutenant Blueberry/Fort Navajo aka 1st Navajo Cycle series||Fort Navajo (Valiant, issues 15 May-21 August, IPC Magazines, 19653; Egmont/Methuen, December 1977, ISBN 041605370X; Dargaud, 1983)||
|2||Tonnerre à l'ouest (Pilote, issues 236-258, Dargaud, 1964)||Dargaud, 1966/01, n/a||Thunder in the West (Egmont/Methuen, October 1977, ISBN 0416054307; Dargaud, 1982)|
|3||L'aigle solitaire (Pilote, issues 261-285, Dargaud, 1964)||Dargaud, 1967/01 n/a||Lone Eagle, (Egmont/Methuen, December 1978, ISBN 0416050301; Dargaud, 1982)|
|4||Le cavalier perdu (Pilote, issues 288-311, Dargaud, 1965)||Dargaud, 1968/01, n/a||Mission to Mexico (Egmont/Methuen, December 1978, ISBN 0416050409), The Lost Rider (Dargaud, 1983)|
|5||La piste des Navajos (Pilote, issues 313-335, Dargaud, 1965)||Dargaud, 1969/01, n/a||Trail of the Navajo (Dargaud, 1983)4||canceled/not translated|
|6||L'homme à l'étoile d'argent (Pilote, issues 337-360, Dargaud, 1966)||Dargaud, 1969/10, n/a||Lieutenant Blueberry/one-shot5||The Man with the Silver Star (Dargaud International Publishing, Ltd, 1983/Q2, ISBN 2205065785)||
|7||Le cheval de fer (Pilote, issues 370-392, Dargaud, 1966)||Dargaud, 1970/01, n/a||Lieutenant Blueberry/Iron Horse series||The Iron Horse (Epic, February 1991, ISBN 0871357402; Moebius #8, Graphitti Designs, 1991, ISBN 0936211350)||Graphitti Designs release erroneously carrying the same ISBN number as Volume 9|
|8||L'homme au poing d'acier (Pilote, issues 397-419, Dargaud, 1967)||Dargaud, 1970/03, n/a||Steel Fingers (Epic, 1991, ISBN 0871357410; Moebius #8, Graphitti Designs, 1991)||
|9||La piste des Sioux (Pilote, issues 427-449, Dargaud, 1967)||Dargaud, 1971/01, n/a||General Golden Mane (Epic, 1991, ISBN 0871357429; Moebius #8, Graphitti Designs, 1991)||Two chapters in one book
|10||Général tête jaune (Pilote, issues 453-476, Dargaud, 1968)||Dargaud, 1971/10, n/a|
|11||La mine de l'allemand perdu (Pilote, issues 497-519, Dargaud, 1969)||Dargaud, 1972/01, n/a||Marshal Blueberry/Goldmine series||The Lost Dutchman's Mine (Epic, 1991, ISBN 0871357437; Moebius #9, Graphitti Designs, 1991, ISBN 0936211350)6||Two chapters in one book
|12||Le spectre aux balles d'or (Pilote, issues 532-557, Dargaud, 1970)||Dargaud, 1972/07, n/a||
|13||Chihuahua Pearl (Pilote, issues 566-588, Dargaud, 1970)||Dargaud, 1973/01, n/a||Blueberry/Confederate Gold series||Chihuahua Pearl (Epic, June 1989, ISBN 0871355698; Moebius #4, Graphitti Designs, 1989, ISBN 0936211202; Titan Books, September 1989, ISBN 1852861908)7||Two chapters in one book
|14||L'homme qui valait 500 000 $ (Pilote, issues 605-627, Dargaud, 1971)||Dargaud, 1973/07, n/a||The first time the Fort Navajo moniker has been dropped from the series (sub-)title by the French parent publisher.|
|15||Ballade pour un cercueil (Pilote, issues 647-679, Dargaud, 1972)||Dargaud, 1974/01, n/a||Ballad for a Coffin (Epic, 1989, ISBN 0871355701; Moebius #4, Graphitti Designs, 1989; Titan Books, November 1989, ISBN 1852861916)||Two chapters in one book.
|16||Le hors-la-loi (Pilote, issues 700-720, Dargaud, 1973, as "L'outlaw")8||Dargaud, 1974/10, n/a||Blueberry/Conspiracy series||
|17||Angel Face (Nouveau Tintin, issues 1-9, Le Lombard, 1975)||Dargaud, 1975/07, ISBN 2205009109||Angel Face (Epic, 1989, ISBN 087135571X; Moebius #5, Graphitti Designs, 1990, ISBN 0936211210; Titan Books, January 1990, ISBN 1852861924)||Two chapters in one book.
|18||Nez Cassé (Métal Hurlant, issues 38-40, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1979)||Dargaud, 1980/01, ISBN 2205016369||Blueberry/Fugitive aka 2nd Navajo Cycle series|
|19||La longue marche (Super As, issues 69-72, 85-87, Koralle, 1980)||Fleurus/EDI-3-BD, 1980/10, ISBN 22150036509||The Ghost Tribe (Epic, January 1990, ISBN 0871355809; Moebius #5, Graphitti Designs, 1990; Titan Books, March 1990, ISBN 1852861932)||Two chapters in one book.
|20||La tribu fantôme (L’echo des savannes, issues 81-83, Les Éditions du Fromage, 1981)||Hachette/Novedi, 1982/03, ISBN 2010087356|
|21||La dernière carte (Spirou, issues 2380-2383, Dupuis, 1983)||Hachette/Novedi, 1983/11, ISBN 2010096835||Blueberry/Rehabilitation series||The End of the Trail (Epic, 1990, ISBN 0871355817; Moebius #5, Graphitti Designs, 1990; Titan Books, May 1990, ISBN 1852861940)||Two chapters in one book
|22||Le bout de la piste (n/a)||Novedi, 1986/09, ISBN 2803900343|
|23||A – Arizona Love (n/a)||Alpen, 1990/10, ISBN 2731607793||Mister Blueberry/one-shot10||Arizona Love (Cheval Noir, issues 46-50, Dark Horse Comics, September 1993-January 1994)||Divided into 5 chapters: Black and white, American current size comic book format.|
|B – Three Black Birds (n/a)||Stardom, 1995, n/a||The Blueberry Saga #1: The Confederate Gold (Mojo Press, July 1996, ISBN 1885418086)11||Chapter title: "Three Black Birds"; 14-page black and white short Arizona Love sequel, American current size comic book format.|
|24||Mister Blueberry (n/a)||Dargaud, 1995/11, ISBN 2205044605||(n/a)/OK Corral12 aka Mister Blueberry series||not translated|
|25||Ombres sur Tombstone (Le Monde, 15 July-8 August, Groupe Le Monde, 1997)||Dargaud, 1997/11, ISBN 2205046179|
|26||Geronimo l'Apache (BoDoï, issues 22-24, LZ Publications, 1999)||Dargaud, 1999/10, ISBN 2205048732|
|27||OK Corral (L'Express, issues 2712-2721, SFR Presse, 2003)||Dargaud, 2003/09, ISBN 2205053388|
|28||Dust (n/a)||Dargaud, 2005/03, ISBN 2205056425|
Since its inception, the series has steadily gained a large following in Europe, and has, in part or in whole, been extensively translated in both serialized and book versions into multiple languages, to wit, Spanish (both Spain proper and the Americas), Portuguese (including Brasil), Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Finnish, Serbo-Croatian, Hungarian, Greek, Icelandic, Turkish, Tamil, Indonesian and, more recently, Japanese with an even more recent addition in Chinese. At least one title – "L'homme à l'étoile d'argent" – is known to have seen a relatively recent translation in Arabic in the Egyptian weekly New Wind Mag (بساط الريح الجديدة), issues 1-11, 2009. In Spanish and Portuguese Blueberry has seen (licensed) publications by local publishers in the Americas, as it has in the former Yugoslavia after it disintegration into its constituent parts. In the European Union, in case of trans-border language areas, it has become customary from the mid-1980s onward, to have publishing rights reside with one publisher only. Like it was in native France, most countries have seen Blueberry pre-published in magazine serials. The Portuguese 1969 "Fort Navajo" publication from Editorial Íbis is the earliest known instance of a Blueberry title to be released directly as album, without prior serialized magazine pre-publication, contrary to the 1965 French and 1968 Spanish album releases, the three of them – all executed in the hard cover format incidentally, save for the French-Belgian Le Lombard release – becoming the only available book versions of the story until 1974.
It should be noted that album publication of "Fort Navajo", due the fact that Charlier had chosen to disseminate the title outside the French, Spanish and Portuguese language areas in magazine syndication, has posed problems for publishers in other language countries, especially in Germany and north-west Europe, when Blueberry broke out in popularity in the late 1960s–early 1970s, well before the syndication term was to expire in 1974. It is not known why Charlier had chosen this format for "Fort Navajo", as the US derived syndication format was by that time already well on its way out for European comics, after the relative immediate post-war paper shortage was no longer an issue. Since "Fort Navajo" was the first part of a five book story arc, this caused continuity, or rather chronology problems as publishers were not yet able to publish the book in their countries. The respective publishers all went about the conundrum in their own way; in Germany the book was first re-serialized as a magazine publication, before continuing with the book releases of the subsequent titles; in the Netherlands and Flanders it was decided to push ahead with book publication regardless of "Fort Navajo", and in the Scandinavian countries it was decided to forego on the publication of the first five titles altogether for the time being, instead opting to start book publication with book six, "L'homme à l'étoile d'argent", leaving publication of the first five titles for a future point in time. No matter what solution was chosen, it became one of the reasons for the messed up book release chronologies for those countries (only aggravated by both the later addition of Young, and Marshal Blueberry book titles as well as the aforementioned publishing wanderings), confusing readership, especially in Germany. It was Finnish publisher Sanoma that became the first publisher able to release the first other language book edition of the title in 1974, directly after the syndication term had expired, as "Navaho: Väijytys Punaisessa laaksossa" (OCLC 57920924, notice the Finnish adherence to the originally intended series name, by now dropped by the parent publisher), that country's very first Blueberry book publication, thereby avoiding the conundrum. Nor had the conundrum been an issue for the UK, as book publication only started in 1977.
In the United States, California based distributor Public Square Books (currently known as Zócalo Public Square) imported Blueberry books from Spanish publisher Norma Editorial, S.A. on behalf of the Spanish speaking part of the country. Having done so in the first half of the 2000s, these books were endowed with American ISBN numbers in the form of a bar code sticker, simply put over the Spanish ISBN number. For example, "Arizona Love" originally carried the Spanish ISBN 8484314103, but once imported in the US, received the new, American ISBN 1594970831. Latino-Americans therefore, have been afforded the opportunity to enjoy the then entirety of the Blueberry series (including the spin-offs), contrary to their English speaking counterparts.
Apart from Europe, the Americas, Japan and Indonesia, the series has been translated on the Indian subcontinent in Mizo by Mahlua of Cydit Communications, operating out of Aizawl, and in Tamil. It is in the latter language in particular, spoken in the south-eastern part of India, Tamil Nadu, and on the island state of Sri Lanka, that the Blueberry saga has amassed a large fanbase and where he is dubbed "Captain Tiger" (கேப்டன் டைகர்). The series has been published by Prakash Publishers under their own "Lion Muthu Comics" imprint. In April 2015, an exclusive collectors edition was published in Tamil, collecting Blueberry titles 13 through 22 – with "Arizona Love" added in first time Tamil translation – in one 540-paged book. This is considered to be a milestone release in the entire Indian comics history, as well as one of the biggest collector editions of Blueberry comics worldwide, although it had already been surpassed by the time of its release by an even more massive, entire main series – save "Apaches" – single book anthology of 1456 pages by parent publisher Dargaud in the original language, the year previously.
A "prequel" series, La Jeunesse de Blueberry (Young Blueberry), and the "intermezzo" series Marshal Blueberry have been published as well, with other artists and writers, most famously William Vance for the latter. Despite dogged efforts on the part of Giraud, the intended Blueberry 1900 sequel did not come to fruition for extraneous reasons.
A later created prequel series, dealt with Blueberry's early years, during the American Civil War, relating how the racist son of a wealthy plantation owner turned into a Yankee bugler and all the adventures after that. The material for the first three albums, conceived by the original Blueberry creators, was originally published in the 1968–1970 mass market paperback sized Super Pocket Pilote series, as in total nine 16-page short stories, eight of them constituting one story-arc set in the war. The very first short story, "Tonnerre sur la sierra" ("Thunder on the Sierra"), was actually a post-war stand-alone adventure set before the events depicted in "The Lost Dutchman's Mine". With the exception of the very first and very last, "Double jeu" ("Double Cross"), all other shorts were originally published in black and white.
In 1995, Giraud slightly contradicted Charlier's birth account of La Jeunesse by divulging that he had already created the "Tonnerre sur la sierra" story by himself, before Charlier actually came up with the Civil War approach, "It was I who scripted the first episode of La Jeunesse de Blueberry. It very much resembled a regular series episode, but much smaller. Charlier subsequently presented me with another idea: the one concerning the Civil War. I found it an excellent idea; Writing started right away."
Giraud created his La Jeunesse art with the smaller digest size format specifically in mind, and adopted therefore a more loose, less "convoluted" art style which allowed him to create his pages more quickly, already applying the revised technique for "Tonnerre sur la sierra". Additionally, it was for these stories that he started to experiment with applying inks in pen – alongside the brush he had hitherto exclusively employed for the series – , a technique he would perfect later on as "Mœbius". While the resulting spontaneous art worked out fine for the smaller sized pages of Superpocket Pilote, it did suffer from the enlargement for the hereafter mentioned album releases, when compared to the larger, more detailed pages for the Pilote main series on which he concurrently continued to work. Still, the experience gained on the La Jeunesse shorts served him well, when he had to create Jim Cutlass in a hurry a decade later, utilizing a similar technique.
The publication of "La jeunesse de Blueberry" ("Blueberry's Secret") in 1975, the first album to collect the first three shorts of the Civil War story-arc, came as a surprise to Blueberry fans. Having left Blueberry on a cliffhanger with "Angel Face", when Giraud took his extended leave of absence (see above), clamor for new Blueberry titles became such, that publisher Dargaud decided to make the move as a temporary stop-gap solution. For the book publication, the original pages were blown up and by Giraud extended in width, rearranged, (re-)colored with some panels omitted in the process to fit the then standard album format of 46 pages, when discounting the two disclaimer pages. While the removal of individual panels was regrettable from a graphic art point of view – as it, besides the missing art, also broke up the integrity of Giraud's carefully designed page lay-outs, especially in "3000 Mustangs" – , it entailed no consequences for the plot of the shorts, save the first one; in "Blueberry's Secret" the in the synopsis mentioned Long Sam had witnessed the murder Blueberry was accused of and therefore able to prove his innocence, but is gunned down before he is able to do so by the real murderer, who in turn is gunned down by Blueberry, leaving Blueberry without any recourse to prove his innocence. However, for the book publication, the two panels which showed the real murderer being killed were cut, causing a discrepancy as it left readers, unfamiliar with the original publication, wondering why Blueberry was so despondent, as, from their point of view, the real killer was still alive.
The releases of the two follow-up collection albums, "Un Yankee nommé Blueberry" ("A Yankee Named Blueberry") and "Cavalier bleu" ("The Blue Coats"), four years later (in itself an indication that Dargaud had not planned to do so initially, if only for the substantial editorial effort it took in the pre-computer era to adapt the original digest size for the standard sized comic book), turned out to be in equal measure a stop-gap initiative. Unable to resolve the royalties conflict, which had dragged on for five years, Charlier and Giraud turned their back on the parent publisher, leaving for greener pastures elsewhere and taking all of Charlier's co-creations with them. Sensing that it might potentially turn out to be a costly defection, the two Young Blueberry titles were released to make the most of the fervor that had surrounded the return of Blueberry with "Nez Cassé". For Dargaud it indeed turned out to be a costly affair as the three 1979/80 titles were the last new titles they were able to release for nearly fifteen years, missing out on a period of time in which Blueberry reached the pinnacle of its popularity – seeing, besides new titles in the main series, the birth of two spin-off series as well – , even though the publishing rights of the older book titles remained where they were. As the "Thunder on the Sierra" short numbered 14 pages instead of 16, no editorial cutting was necessary for the third book. Apart from the editorial changes to fit the book format and the creation of new covers for the two additional albums, Giraud also made use of the opportunity to recreate a small number of panels to replace those he had felt unhappy about in hindsight, spread over all three albums.
Dargaud considered their three, original creator's, La Jeunesse de Blueberry book titles as part of the main series, until they regained the Blueberry rights in late 1993, and as such have therefore seen translations in most of the aforementioned languages as well. Apart from the expedited release of the two additional La Jeunesse titles, Dargaud also undertook a subsequent action in an attempt to further profit from the upsurge in popularity of Blueberry, by releasing the very first six-volume Blueberry integral edition of 1984. A co-production with French publisher fr:Rombaldi, each of the six volumes collected four titles of the then existing main series. Rombaldi was brought into the fold to act as an intermediary in order to negotiate a separate license from Novedi to have the then four Novedi main series titles included as well in volumes 5 and 6, though Dargaud performed a copyright infraction by making sure Novedi was not mentioned as copyright holder in the respective colophons. The three La Jeunesse titles were collected in volume 6. In recognition for their assistance, Rombaldi was retained for similar releases of the two other Dargaud Western series, fr:Jonathan Cartland (see also below) and fr:Mac Coy – each, like Blueberry, one of the "big five" 1970s Franco-Belgian realistic Western comics – , combining all of them in one overall, eleven-volume Les géants du l'Ouest collection, as promoted in contemporary advertisements.
The 1990 English language edition of these books by Catalan Communications in their "ComCat" line, gave track of the changes and presented the left out panels in editorials in which Giraud himself presented clarifications for the choices made. It was in effect American readership that was first afforded a clarification for the discrepancy in the first book and the editorial changes made, before European readers were, in the editorials by Lofficier of the releases. Only these first three books were published in English. The three American albums, again translated by the Lofficier couple, were also, unaltered and unedited, included in the above-mentioned anthology collection from Graphitti Designs. The Graphitti Designs "Young Blueberry" anthology title differed from the others in that it was not printed on high gloss paper, but on matte paper as in the original ComCat publications, indicating that by then inclusion in the Graphitti Moebius collection was already accounted for and that the original print run of the interior pages was adjusted accordingly.
|#||French original book release (publisher, yyyy/mm, ISBN1)||French chapter titles (original order and magazine publication)||English saga title/French story-arc||English title and data||Note|
|1||La jeunesse de Blueberry (Dargaud, 1975/01, ISBN 2205007785)||
||Young Blueberry||Blueberry's Secret (ComCat comics, September 1989, ISBN 0874160685; Moebius #6, Graphitti Designs, 1990, ISBN 093621122913)||Three chapters in one book. Chapter titles:
|2||Un Yankee nommé Blueberry (Dargaud, 1979/01, ISBN 2205014854)||
||A Yankee Named Blueberry (ComCat comics, March 1990, ISBN 0874160871; Moebius #6, Graphitti Designs, 1990)||Three chapters in one book. Chapter titles:
|3||Cavalier bleu (Dargaud, 1979/10, ISBN 2205014854)15||Chapter titles:
||The Blue Coats (ComCat comics, July 1990, ISBN 0874160936; Moebius #6, Graphitti Designs, 1990)||Three chapters in one book. Chapter titles:
||one-shot (Lieutenant Blueberry)||
After "Angel Face" was completed in 1974, Giraud took an extended leave of absence from Blueberry, because he wanted further explore and develop his "Moebius" alter ego, the work he produced as such being published in Métal Hurlant magazine, in the process revolutionizing the Franco-Belgian world of bandes dessinées. Having ended "Angel Face" on a cliffhanger, Giraud's return to Blueberry five years later with "Broken Nose" became a media event of considerable proportions and demand for Blueberry reached an all-time high. It was then that the creators decided to revisit the Young Blueberry adventures as well, which had ended its run in Super Pocket Pilote. However, Giraud was nowhere near able to take on yet another major series himself, as he was still working on his Incal series as Moebius, besides having embarked on Blueberry again.
There actually had been an additional, more prosaic reason as well for the decision to do so. After Giraud had finished "La dernière carte" he, having been very much invested throughout most of his adult life in New Age beliefs and practices (which included the use of mind-expanding substances), had already left for Tahiti to join the commune of mystic Jean-Paul Appel-Guéry, the latter had set up there. After a stay of nearly two years, Giraud moved to the United States in late 1984 and set up shop firstly in Santa Monica, and subsequently in Venice and Woodland Hills, California. It was in this era that his work was published by Marvel/Epic for the US market. Publisher Novedi feared, not entirely unjustified – as the release lag between the two books had already increased from eighteen months to three years – , that it endangered the publication regularity of the main series, and resurrecting, or more accurately, creating the Young Blueberry series, was the back-up strategy they had in mind. Novedi had solid reasons to do so, as any new Blueberry title in that particular period of time enjoyed an (all-language) European first print run of 500.000 copies – thus discounting any later reprint run – , for European standards a very respectable print run.
Publisher and creators subsequently embarked on a search for a suitable artist to take on the task. It was then that fate intervened when Giraud, before his departure to Tahiti, discovered the work of the still unknown ex-pat Colin Wilson from New Zealand, who was publishing a science fiction comic series Dans l'Ombre du Soleil – for which Wilson did both the writing and the art – for the French Circus comic magazine, which featured the character "Raël" (also the first story title) that shared a stunning resemblance with Blueberry. Wilson was actually was a huge Giraud fan himself and had modeled his "Raël" character after a Western hero he had created for the New Zealand fanzine Strips, and who in turn was modeled after Blueberry. Ironically in hindsight, it were the original black & white La Jeunesse de Blueberry shorts that introduced Wilson to Blueberry as some Super Pilote Pocket issues had somehow found their to way to New Zealand, then a country without a comic tradition to speak of, according to Wilson. His admiration for Franco-Belgian bande dessinée artists, Giraud in particular, became in 1980 the driving force for Wilson to try his luck as such in Europe, aside from the fact that his native country did not afford any opportunities to become one professionally. "Those drawings of Giraud convinced me to leave New Zealand", Wilson reiterated in 1986, "If that's what European comics are like then I wanted to be a part of it". It was comic artist François Corteggiani who brought Wilson to the attention of Giraud by sending him a few pages of the "Raël" comic, and who in turn brought them to the attention of his co-worker Charlier (or vice versa as sources are not in concordance with each other).
Unaware that his work was already brought to the attention of his idol and his co-worker, Corteggiani arranged Wilson's first face-to-face meeting with them in September 1983 in Paris. "To have a discussion with Giraud, what a chance!", said a delighted, but non-French speaking Wilson, "That's why I immediately said yes to François Corteggiani". Much to his own surprise, Wilson was almost immediately asked if he was interested to take on the new Young Blueberry series. After having accepted, he developed a close and warm working relationship with Charlier, and the Wilson/Gale couple befriended both him and his wife Christine, with household visits back and forth. The Charlier couple not only helped their friends (neither of them French-speaking and staying on a tourist visa in Amsterdam at the time) to settle firstly in Brussels, Belgium, and subsequently in the Provence, France, but with practical work details as well, as Wilson later recalled, "Janet and I were tremendously lucky, Charlier was in many respects something of a kind uncle to us. He did not make a fuss about anything. He really stuck out his neck for me by involving me, a virtually unknown young artist, in a success series. I know he could be tough as nails with publishers. We were fortunate though, that he negotiated on our behalf as well, and we profited very much from the deals he struck." Wilson was signed for five albums. Corteggiani himself was yet to leave his mark on the La Jeunesse de Blueberry series later on. Wilson became the second, and last Charlier artist, after Giraud, whom the author provided with script pages in a timely fashion, once even receiving a page overnighted from Kuwait where the author then was on documentary assignment, just to keep his artist working.
After a short apprenticeship (during which he produced Blueberry study art) to fine tune his art style, already close to that of Giraud, in order to have it move even closer to that of Giraud, embarked with fervor on the project with his first outing "Les démons du Missouri" ("Missouri Demons"), which essentially became the rationale for the Young Blueberry adventures to become a spin-off series onto their own. Working seven days a week for ten to twelve hours, Wilson produced five to six pages a month, using a combination of pen and brush for he inks, just as his idol had done for his Jeunesse stories and which had become the inspiration for Wilson to abandon the Rotring technical utensils he had originally used in New-Zealand.
As it had in 1980 when Giraud was working on "La longue marche" with an assistant (see below), rumors quickly abounded in the tight-knit bande dessinée community that Giraud intended to abandon Blueberry. This time around however, and unlike 1980, the rumors found their way to the outside world, causing anxiety in the fan community. Despite the publisher's standing policy of releasing comics directly in album format, it was decided to have "Les démons du Missouri" pre-published in the newspaper France-Soir, one of the largest newspapers in France at the time, in an effort to counteract the growing disquiet. A first for Blueberry insofar daily newspapers were concerned, black & white publication began at the start of 1985, with Wilson feeding the newspaper with half-pages as he went along. The first half-page was accompanied by an editorial from Charlier, in which he tried to allay the fears of the fans (see quotebox). The format was for good measure repeated in 1987 with Wilson's second outing, "Terreur sur le Kansas" ("Terror over Kansas"), for the same newspaper, but abandoned afterwards when Wilson had become an established Blueberry artist himself. France-Soir saw two half-pages (1b and 2a) from "Terreur sur le Kansas" published that were not incorporated in the album, released later that year, for print technical reasons (see also The Blueberry biography in this regard).
Despite the initial trepidations of fans, Wilson's Blueberrys were favorably received, achieving print run numbers approximating those of the main series, as well as seeing translations in nearly as many languages, with English being the glaring one of the few exceptions as of 2017. Wilson has divulged that Novedi released the first album in a first French printing of 150.000 copies (Novedi had by then taken over the publication for France as well) and a Dutch first printing of 50.000 copies, a huge step up from the initial French only 12.000 copy release for the "Raël" album. The French edition however, sold out in a matter of weeks, and an additional 20.000 copies followed suit in a hurry. Compared to the main series, the first printing was conservative for the French edition and ample for the Dutch edition. It even had a positive side-effect on his science fiction series Dans l'Ombre du Soleil, which saw German, Dutch and Danish translations after he had embarked on Blueberry. Wilson though, had to abandon this series in 1989, having added two more titles, because Blueberry demanded all his attention and energy, aside from the fact that it was the more successful one by far, allowing the couple to move to the Provence. It were not only the fans who were relieved, Wilson too had his trepidations alleviated when he met the fans face-to-face for the first time at several comic convention book signings after the release of the first album, grateful for their gracious reception and acceptance of his Blueberry, even though most of them concurrently and emphatically expressed their relieve that Giraud would continue to be the artist for the main series.
While Wilson was working on "Terreur sur le Kansas", he was asked by Giraud, who had shortly returned to Europe, to finish up on "Le bout de la piste" as well, as he was pressed for time, preparing to leave for California where he just had set up shop. Wilson did part of the inking of "Le bout de la piste", while his girlfriend Janet Gale, who had followed him from New Zealand, took on the coloring. Giraud himself assigned her the task, being impressed by the work she had done on her fiancé's album. Gale was actually a relative novice, as she only started coloring on her fiancé's Dans l'Ombre du Soleil series, having been unable to find legitimate employment in Europe due to her visa status. She would continue to color all her future husband's Blueberry books, as well as several albums from other artists released by Novedi. Giraud himself was from the moment Wilson took over the series no longer involved creatively, aside from occasionally giving his young colleague some advise, but did receive a "small inventor's fee" per title, as he himself had coined it.
While several European countries (including outliers like Iceland and Turkey) had, no post-original creators title – discounting the newspaper serialization of the first two Wilson titles – has seen serialized comic magazine pre-publication in France/French-Belgium itself, where the titles were instead directly released as books. By the time the 1990 "Le raid infernal" was released however, virtually every other country had followed suit due to the demise of the serialized magazine format.
Like parent publisher Dargaud, publisher Novedi considered the Young Blueberry books part of the main series at first until 1990, before they were instituted as a separate spin-off series, mostly for the practical reason of wanting to avoid further pollution of release numbering and chronology. Dargaud's stance was adhered to in other European countries, among others in Spain where then regular Blueberry publisher Grijalbo/Ediciones Junior released their 1988-1996 Las aventuras del teniente Blueberry eight-volume integral collection, encompassing all hitherto released Blueberry albums, including those of Wilson. Like Dargaud had to do for their previous Les géants du l'ouest collection, the Spanish had to separately negotiate licenses from Koralle and Novedi for their Blueberry releases, but unlike the Dargaud release, these publishers were dutifully mentioned as copyright holders in the colophons of the respective volumes. Wilson's "Terreur sur le Kansas" became the first album to be released as a separate La Jeunesse series title in 1987, as indicated on its back cover. It was therefore not Dargaud who took the initiative for the move, but rather Novedi, due to the fact that Dargaud had lost the publishing rights for new Blueberry titles, actually missing out on the first five, most successful, titles of the new series as explained. But Dargaud did adopt the format, once these rights had returned to them in late 1993.
Catalan Communications had planned to publish "Missouri Demons", "Terror over Kansas", and beyond in English as well, as additions to their Young Blueberry series in the "ComCat" line from 1991 onward (alongside Hermann's Comanche Western incidentally, another favorite of Wilson), which was already indicated on the back covers of the three original ones published in 1989-1990. The former had in effect already received an ISBN number. Publication came to naught however, due to the near concurrent, but otherwise coincidental, demises of both Novedi and Catalan Communications in late 1989 and 1990 respectively.
While Charlier's death in July 1989 did not cause succession problems for the main series as explained, it did not held true for the Jeunesse series as both Charlier's heir, Philippe Charlier, and the publisher considered Wilson too much of an inexperienced novice to take on the writing of a major series himself, or as he himself had later put it, "I doubt if "Raël" or "Mantell" accounted for anything at Dargaud [sic.] in this regard". However, the search for a replacement for Charlier, turned out to be a rather tall order, as none of the established names in the Franco-Belgian comic world were found willing to fill the shoes of the legendary Charlier, whereas non-established names were rejected for pretty much the same reasons why Wilson was not considered as replacement. It was then, in order to break the gridlock, that Wilson suggested François Corteggiani as replacement, deeming it "logical", as he assumed Corteggiani to be an admirer of Charlier. Corteggiani had been one of the lesser names in the Franco-Belgian comic world, having predominantly written a couple of short-lived humorous comic series and one realistic series, the heavily Godfather Trilogy inspired mafia saga De silence et de sang – which he had abandoned in 1986 after only two volumes, only to take it on again ten years later, piggybacking on his newfound notoriety as Blueberry writer. However, both critical and commercial success have always eluded Corteggiani, and by the time he was approached by Novedi and Philippe Charlier, he had suspended his own career as a bande dessinée artist, instead becoming a tenured script writer for the French Disney studios. To his credit, Corteggiani refused at first, for the same reason his more established colleagues had already done previously, but eventually conceded on the insistence of Wilson. Wilson had personal reasons to do so, as Corteggiani was a personal friend of the Wilson-couple, aside for the practical reason that he was living in the vicinity of the Wilson-couple at the time. When the non-French speaking Wilson couple first arrived in Europe, they met Corteggiani at the annual Italian Lucca Comics & Games festival. Corteggiani took a shining on the newcomers and took them under his wing. It was Corteggiani, using his vast Franco-Belgian comic world social network, who introduced Wilson to publisher Glénat, resulting in his first European comic series Dans l'Ombre du Soleil, in the process negotiating on behalf of his friend. And as already related, it was Corteggiani who, while keeping tabs on the work of his friend, introduced Wilson's work to the Blueberry creators. Wilson reasoned that by suggesting Cortegianni for a major series, he could return the favor he had provided him a few years earlier, by getting his friend's bande dessinée career back on track. Actually, he and Wilson had already started their own Thunderhawks comic series before Charlier died, an aviation comic set shortly after the first world war in the American South-West, but which had to take a backseat due to the fact that the Blueberry series took precedence.
Corteggiani's first order of business was to finish up on the script for "Le raid infernal" which was halfway completed by Charlier at the time of his death. This he did to the satisfaction of all parties involved, including Wilson, and Corteggiani was retained as the Jeunesse writer ever since.
The publication of Wilson's fourth album "La poursuite impitoyable" in 1992 was surprisingly still under the Novedi imprint, over a year after the publishing house had ceased to exist. This can only be explained by the fact that Wilson was originally signed for five albums by Novedi, and that the official receivers of the defunct publisher wanted the revenues for the legal and financial finalization of the bankruptcy. The album therefore became a posthumous Novedi release. All legal issues were apparently resolved by the time of the publication of the fifth Wilson album, "Trois hommes pour Atlanta" one year later, as it was released by Novedi's successor Alpen Publishers, becoming the only Jeunesse title they were able to release, before they themselves lost publication rights to Dargaud in late 1993.
François Corteggiani and Colin Wilson
François Corteggiani and Michel Blanc-Dumont
No post-original creators editions have seen the day of light in the English language as of 2016, but, like the source series, the Young Blueberry spin-off series did see translations in numerous languages, the three titles by the original creators and the Wilson outings specifically, but appreciatively less so for the subsequent releases. The latter is amply exemplified by the Corteggiani/Blanc-Dumont versions, which are not that favorably received – unlike the Wilson versions, whose first three outings were notably well received, in no small part due to the fact that they were still being written by co-creator Charlier – as indicated by its steadily diminishing popularity; had volume 12 still seen a first-print run of 100.000 copies in France in 2001, by 2015 that number had dwindled to 40.000 (which in France is approaching the cut-off point for a standard comic album being economically viable to become published) when volume 21 was released, aside from the fact that several publishers had foregone the publication of these book titles in their countries altogether. As of 2016, the spin-off series by Corteggiani and Blanc-Dumont remains only published in French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Danish and Italian, a far cry from the nearly two dozen languages the main series had once been published in.
This spin-off series was the second attempt, this time by Alpen Publishers, to further capitalize on the huge popularity both the main, and Wilson's Blueberry series enjoyed at the time. Written by co-creator Giraud, the series was set around the events depicted in The Lost Dutchman's Mine and dealt with scrupulous gun runners arming Apaches, thereby instigating an uprising. Chosen by the publisher for the art work was William Vance, an accomplished Belgian comic artist in his own right and renowned for his XIII comic series. Vance, with whom Giraud had virtually no dealings in person, drew the first two outings in the series, but declined afterwards to continue, partly because he was required to finish an album in only four months (in Europe, one year was the typical mean to complete a comic book of 48 pages, but not rarely exceeds this time span in recent decades) and that he was unaccustomed to Giraud's style as script writer. Additionally, even though the first book sold 100.000 copies (while respectable, relatively modest compared to the contemporary print runs of the two other series, they being printed in numbers at the very least double that), fans received the book with mixed feelings as Vance's style was a too radical departure to their tastes from that of Giraud. This actually was part of the reasons why Wilson's work for Young Blueberry was so favorably received and partly the reason why Blanc-Dumont's was not. While conceding that he found Vance's particular style "seductive but sometimes artificial" – having been pleased with the first album, but less so with the second – , Giraud himself was disappointed and hurt by the defection of a professional like the established Vance for reasons of aesthetics and integrity, as he wanted the series to be executed by only one artist, deeming the defection "disastrous" for the series. The unresolved story cycle lingered in limbo for seven years, before Giraud in person found fr:Michel Rouge – whose style was closer to his – willing to finish the cycle.
That Rouge's style resembled that of Giraud, was hardly a surprise, as Rouge was actually not a stranger to Blueberry. Twenty years earlier, when Rouge was still a quite unknown and aspiring comic artist, Giraud took him on as an apprentice and had him ink pages 15–35 of "La longue marche" in 1980 – thereby doing for an aspiring artist what Jijé had done for him nearly two decades before that. At the time it gave rise to the rumor that Giraud was planning to abandon his co-creation and that Rouge was groomed to take over the series. Though a rumor, there was a nuanced morsel of truth in it, as Rouge clarified two decades later, "No, he did not want to abandon Blueberry, but rather sought support and perhaps the opportunity to create books, like the ones he is currently doing [Mister Blueberry]. At the time, he was already playing with the notion of doing parallel series." Though not Blueberry, Rouge did take over that other famed contemporary Franco-Belgian western comic series, Hermann's Comanche. Unfortunately, Rouge was not able to regain the popularity that series once enjoyed, when it was still penciled by Hermann, and the series was suspended indefinitely after Rouge had only added five titles to the series. Rouge's words notwithstanding though, and while he has never acted upon it in earnest, Giraud did later admit that there were "temptations" in that period of time.
Originally intended to become a full-fledged series, the three Marshal Blueberry titles have remained the only outings in the series, though they too have seen several foreign language publications. Although not in France itself, several European countries have seen serialized magazine pre-publication of the first two titles. The third 2000 title though, was invariably directly released in book format for virtually all countries. No English language editions were released. Incidentally, in 2013 Giraud returned the favor Vance had provided for his co-creation, when he took on the art work of volume 18 for his XIII series, and which has seen English translations.
Jean Giraud and Michel Rouge
A third spin-off series, coined Blueberry 1900, was conceived by original creator Giraud in the early-1990s, intended as a bonafide sequel series. Set, as the series title already implied, in the era of the William McKinley presidency, it would not only have featured a 57-year old Blueberry, but his adult son as well, albeit in a minor role. The story line, intended to encompass five books, was to take place around events surrounding the assassination of President McKinley. Pegged for the artwork was French comic artist François Boucq whom Giraud had met at a comic event in honor of his lifelong friend Jean-Claude Mézières, and concurrently discussed the project with. Actually, Giraud had previously approached Michel Blanc-Dumont, whose "lyric" art work for Jonathan Cartland he adored, for the project around 1993, then still tentatively called Blueberry 20 ans après (Blueberry, 20 years later). Blanc-Dumont, despite being reciprocally an admirer of Giraud's art and aside from being still invested in his own Western comic, thought the project not suitable for him, deeming the script outline too Mœbiusienne for his taste, and had already suggested Boucq instead. Boucq showed interest and was enthusiastic about the project, and indeed embarked on the production of pre-publication art studies, but deemed a cycle of five books too much, managing to negotiate it down to a cycle of three books.
However, Philippe Charlier, son of the late Jean-Michel Charlier and proprietor of "JMC Aventures" – the foundation and legal copyright owner, set up back in 1990 with the specific intent to safeguard the creative integrity and legacy of his father, both in a spiritual as well as a commercial sense, but which had become dormant after the failed experiment at Alpen Publishers – , was nowhere near as enthusiastic as Boucq was. He became increasingly alarmed and downright aghast when reading commentaries, Giraud made in contemporary magazine interviews, clarifying his intentions and premises for the proposed series of a Blueberry residing with the Hopi tribe, meditating under the influence of mind-expanding substances, while President McKinley was levitating in the White House due to a Hopi spell. As heir and steward of his father's co-creations and legacy, being the 50% co-owner of the Blueberry brand, he still had the unequivocal right to veto any and all proposals regarding the trademark Blueberry and did not hesitate for a moment to exercise his prerogative in this case, going as far as taking Giraud to court, resulting in that the project fell through. As per a horrified Charlier Jr. in a contemporary statement, "The script is unbelievably horrifying. It is an effrontery, constructed out of implausible circumstances. Like in the new [OK Corral] story cycle, we find a totally passive Blueberry, only meditating, while the president, enchanted by Indians, is levitating in the White House". As he indicated, though he had given his seal of approval in this case, Charlier Jr., also became wary and disapproving of Giraud depicting the former lieutenant as a passive loafer in the OK Corral story arc, only aggravated from his point of view by the fact that Giraud could not refrain himself from including some elements from Native-American mysticism in "OK Corral" and "Dust" – though not anywhere near as extensive as he had apparently intended for Blueberry 1900.
Philippe Charlier, conservative by nature like his father, had, unlike his father, no patience whatsoever with Giraud's "New Age" predilections (also serving as an additional rationale for his decision to proceed with Alpen Publishers back in 1990, instead of Les Humanoïdes Associés, renowned for its catalog of more adult, "esoteric" comics, like those of Boucq and Alejandro Jodorowsky), particularly for his admitted fondness for mind-expanding substances. It was he (after his father's death), who testified in court, that his father had always "detested" Giraud's work as "Mœbius" and that he considered that work as "treason". While Philippe was unable to stop the OK Corral cycle, because of the "longest living survivor" main series covenant Giraud and Charlier Sr. had signed, he was able to stop Giraud in his tracks in court for Blueberry 1900 because it had never been presented by Giraud as a main series effort, but rather as a brand expansion (notice the legal difference), and on this Charlier Jr. had veto rights. Reinforced by the for him favorable court ruling, Charlier Jr. was therefore subsequently able to veto Giraud's 1999 scenario outline for a Fort Mescalero movie, which was to feature Blueberry in extensive substance-induced hallucinatory scenes, besides Giraud's intention to have the Jim Cutlass series merge with the Blueberry main series, due to the fact that later volumes of that series also increasingly incorporated likewise scenes, arguing that such a merging would indeed constitute another brand extension.
How far Giraud actually already was in his thinking was exemplified by the inclusion of his art featuring Blueberry with Hopi tribesmen, endowed with the caption "In Hopi Towns", as the interior flyleaf illustration for the regular 1990 "Arizona Love" French book release, reprinted as such, without the caption, in the last 1991 Graphitti Designs release, Moebius #9. Additionally, Giraud had sneaked in some Blueberry 1900 elements (including floating Washington dignitaries) in the non-Blueberry, Native-American themed, short story "The Words of Chief Seattle", which saw English publication in Epic's second Blueberry book release, "Ballad for a Coffin".
However, Giraud's fascination with shamanism went even further back than that, when he was introduced by Jodorowsky – during the failed Dune-project – in 1974 to the writings of Carlos Castaneda, who had written a series of books that describe his training in shamanism, particularly with a group whose lineage descended from the Toltecs. The books, narrated in the first person, related his experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui "Man of Knowledge" named Don Juan Matus. Castaneda's writings made a deep and everlasting impression on Giraud, already open to Native-Mexican folk culture due to his three previous extended trips to the country (he had visited the country a third time in 1972, also see Giraud on Carlos Castaneda), and it did influence his art as "Mœbius", particularly in regard to dream sequences, though he was not quite able to work in such influences in his mainstream Blueberry comic. Yet, unbeknownst to writer Charlier, he did already sneak in some Castaneda elements in "Nez Cassé". Castaneda's influence reasserted itself in full in Giraud's later life, having worked in elements more openly after Charlier's death in "Geronimo l'Apache", becoming, as indicated, a major element for Blueberry 1900.
Boucq was disappointed with the project falling through, disagreeing with Charlier Jr.'s assessment, "Quite the contrary, depicting him as an old man, forced us to endow him with a special kind of dignity". Yet, for him it turned out to be a blessing in disguise eventually, as it became an inspiration for Jodorowsky (co-creator of Giraud's acclaimed Incal series, and already a frequent Boucq collaborator), to co-create with him their own acclaimed western comic. fr:Bouncer (published by Les Humanoïdes Associés). And even the fictional "Fort Mescalero" has resurfaced as Blueberry's very first Far West posting in the 2007 prequel book Apaches, aside from the fact that much of what he had envisioned for this project actually turned up in the 2004 Blueberry movie. As a warming-up for Blueberry 1900, Boucq and Giraud had already collaborated on a Native-American themed project when they both contributed to the 1995 "Laissé Pour Mort", a to 500 pieces limited CD/Portfolio release from Parisian-based publisher Stardom, Giraud's own publishing house/art gallery, ran at the time by his second wife Isabelle. Later, in 2008, Giraud submitted a "Blueberry-meets-Bouncer" contribution to the to 250 pieces limited "Bouncer" portfolio from short-lived publisher Osidarta, aside from providing a foreword.
Despite Charlier Jr.'s vehement resistance, Giraud himself seemed to have never abandoned the notion of doing Blueberry 1900 as was evidenced in a 2008 interview, when he was asked if he would ever return to Blueberry after he had once stated in a prior magazine interview that he was done with his creation upon the conclusion of the OK Corral story arc. "Looking back at it," stated Giraud, "I realized that I really wanted to continue Blueberry. This would probably not be the case if I were to re-start a cycle of 5 albums, because I do not think I have the energy left for another ten years of work. Actually, I want to take up the idea of Blueberry 1900 again, which has a very realistic side, sometimes a more crazy one: the Indians were a magical people, that was part of their culture, and I want to stage the collision between our world, through the conquest of the West, and the world of Indians who resist. It is often shown how events took place in a strategic sense, but I wish to plunge into Indian sociology, like it was done in Dances with Wolves, by replacing our materialistic vision of the world, and by explaining the clash of cultures that took place. Of course, there is a certain challenge in doing the story this way, because I might possibly yank the rug from under the feet of the reader. I still have to rework the script and do the page divisions, but I think it will take between 100 and 200 pages." Giraud's death in 2012 ended all notions of a Blueberry 1900 installment, and quite possibly any further installment of the main series as well.
"In my function as literary editor, I also amused myself by mounting a massive hoax. It was meant to expand a bit upon the knowledge of Blueberry's past that I had introduced in the full Jeunesse stories. As an aside, I humbly apologize to the respectable professors and other eminent historians who have rock solidly believed in it, and who have overwhelmed me with requests for my sources. The idea came to me at the National Archives in Washington, when I was looking for old pictures for a television show. One of them caught my eye on a pile of documents dating from the Civil War. It showed a young, anonymous officer, serving in the cavalry of the Union, who resembled the young Blueberry as drawn by Jean Giraud. It was too beautiful! I could not resist! I acquired a lot of other pictures of the era, representing southern plantations, black slaves in cotton fields, scenes of the Civil War, trains, forts, Mississippi Show Boats ... And, using them as starting point, I wrote the detailed biography of Mike Steve Donovan, alias Blueberry, which can now be read at the start of the album "Ballade pour un cercueil". I mingled many real facts and characters that had really existed into my imaginary biography. Thanks to the photos brought back from Washington, it became a flagrant truth. To complete this forgery, that amused me immensely, I commissioned my graphic artist Peter Glay for the superb false historical portrait that you can also admire. A detail that should not be lacking in all this pizzazz, the officers represented on Blueberry sides are, in reality, comic artists Jean-Marc Reiser and Jean Tabary, who were relatively unknown at the time, but who have come a long way since the time they posed as Blue Coats! This hoax worked beyond all hopes: thousands of readers believed in the real existence of Blueberry, following the publication of this false, with authentic photos illustrated, biography. That my victims may forgive me: si non è vero è bene trovato!"— Charlier, in a latter-day accounting for his Blueberry biography.
In 1974 Charlier had a sixteen-page background article added to "Ballade pour un cercueil" (OCLC 893750651), when the book was first released. The article concerned a fictitious biography of Mike Steve Donovan, alias Mike S. Blueberry, detailing his life from birth to death, and written from a historic, journalistic point of view. When asked about it a decade later, Charlier clarified that once it became clear to him that Blueberry had become the central character of the series he had conceived, he then already postulated in his mind the broad strokes of the complete life and works of his creation, including the reasons for Blueberry's broken nose and odd alias. By the time "Ballade pour un cercueil" was ready for its book release, Charlier deemed the moment had arrived to entrust his musings to paper. There had been a practical reason as well for this. The story already ran 16 pages over-length and as contemporary printers printed eight double-sided comic book pages on one sheet of print paper, the addition of the 16-page biography was not that much of a bother for their production process. "Ballade pour un cercueil" therefore became one of the first Franco-Belgium comic albums to break the mold of the hitherto standard 48-page count format.
Currently somewhat of a staple in European comics, at that time the inclusion of an informative background section in a comic book of that size and wealth of detail was hitherto unheard of and a complete novelty, and what Charlier had not foreseen was that many in the pre-internet era mistook the biography for real, factual history, propagating it as such in other outside media as well. Charlier, who also was an investigative journalist and a documentary maker with a solid reputation for thorough documentation, had previously already written several, shorter historical Old West background editorials for the 1969-1970 Super Pocket Pilote series (issues 4-9) as companion pieces for the Jeunesse de Blueberry shorts, which were historically accurate – and, incidentally, working much of the material contained therein, especially the photographs, into the biography for the post-war era – , and readers therefore assumed that the biography was likewise.
Still, having written the biography within the historical context as postulated in the comic, fully expecting his readership to understand it as such, Charlier originally had not the intention to perform a prank at the expense of his readers, despite him later presenting it as such in the above statement, mischievously poking fun at the "respectable" and "eminent", but gullible, believers – and which was in concordance with biographer Ratier's observation of the author "taking liberties" with actual events for dramatic effect, aside from the fact that his "it was meant to" statement also implied his original intent and the incongruous circumstance that he had already left the employ of Dargaud and Pilote in 1972 as already mentioned. "I have written a fictitious biography on Blueberry, accompanied by photographs found in American archives, and the whole world went for it!", declared a baffled Charlier previously, having already stated on an even earlier occasion, "To this very day, because of "Ballade pour un cercueil" in which we gave Blueberry with a photographs illuminated biography, I still receive letters from readers – not from kids mind you, but from grownups – asking how on Earth we have managed to track down the real Blueberry. There are people who take it for real fact." The photos were indeed authentic, though their captions were not. To complete the appearance of a bonafide in-universe biography, a Civil War-era style group portrait, featuring Blueberry and flanked by the by Charlier mentioned comic artists, was included, ostentatiously recently discovered and from the hand of American artist Peter Glay, but in reality created by Pierre Tabary under the pseudonym. Tabary, brother of Jean, was a French book illustrator of some renown himself, also working for Pilote as illustrator for their magazine editorials at the time. Incidentally, a salient detail was that events, as related in the biography, in Blueberry's life directly upon war's end, but before he arrived in the Far West, eventually became those of Jim Cutlass, the other Giraud/Charlier western.
J.M. Lofficier has translated the biography in English, specifically for inclusion in the Graphitti Designs anthology collection (it was not featured in the Epic editions), published in the fourth volume of the collection, Moebius #4. Lofficier however, took it upon himself to slightly edit Charlier's original text in order to reflect Blueberry's life as featured in the post-1974 publications (despite being reprinted numerous times, not only in French but in other languages as well, Charlier himself has never revisited his original text again), and as such it is not an entirely faithful translation as some elements were added, whereas some others were omitted, such as the aforementioned notion of Blueberry ultimately heading a unit of Apache scouts.
The series has received (world) wide recognition in the comics community, and the chief factor for Giraud receiving his first recorded international award in 1972. Listed are only those rewards, the author(s) received specifically for Blueberry, as Giraud in particular received an additional multitude of awards and nominations for his work as "Mœbius" from 1977 onward, including awards encompassing his entire body of works.
While Giraud has garnered universal praise and acclaim for his work as "Moebius", Blueberry has always remained his most successful and most recognized work in mainland Europe, despite its artist developing somewhat of a love/hate relationship with his co-creation in later life, which was exemplified by him regularly taking an extended leave of absence from his co-creation. That Blueberry has always remained his primary source of income, allowing him to fully indulge in his artistic endeavors as Moebius, was admitted as such by Giraud as early as 1979, "If a album of Moebius is released, about 10.000 people are interested. A Blueberry album sells at least 100.000 copies [in France]," and as late as 2005, "Blueberry is in some ways the "sponsor" of Moebius, for years now."
After Giraud had returned to France pursuant his extended stay in the United States, generic interest in his work steadily grew and resulted in an increasing number of latter-day exhibitions at museums and conventions, featuring his original art. However, due to his international renown as "Mœbius", virtually all of these exhibitions focused on his work as such, even if Blueberry art was included in some of them. Nonetheless, at least three such exhibitions were known to have been Western/Blueberry specific.
A 2004 film adaptation, Blueberry(U.S. release title is Renegade), was directed by Jan Kounen and starred Vincent Cassel in the lead role, with Giraud himself making a walk-on cameo appearance in the movie. Many purists were appalled by this film.
Notable events of 2018 in comics. See also List of years in comics.
This is a list of comics-related events in 2018. It includes any relevant comics-related events, deaths of notable comics-related people, conventions and first issues by title.Blueberry (film)
Blueberry (French: Blueberry: L'expérience secrète) is a 2004 French acid western directed by Jan Kounen. It is an adaptation of the Franco-Belgian comic book series Blueberry, illustrated by Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius) and scripted by Jean-Michel Charlier. However, the film has little in common with the source material. The film starred Vincent Cassel as the title character along with Michael Madsen and Juliette Lewis. Although the film is a French production, the film is in English to match the story's setting in America's Wild West in the 1870s. Since the character of Blueberry remains obscure in the States, the film was released on DVD in America in November 2004 under the title Renegade and marketed very much as a conventional Western.Jean Giraud
Jean Henri Gaston Giraud (French: [ʒiʁo]; 8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012) was a French artist, cartoonist and writer who worked in the Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées (BD) tradition. Giraud garnered worldwide acclaim under the pseudonym Moebius (; French: [məbjys]), as well as Gir (French: [ʒiʁ]) outside the English-speaking world, used for the Blueberry series – his most successful creation in the non-English speaking parts of the world – and his Western themed paintings. Esteemed by Federico Fellini, Stan Lee and Hayao Miyazaki among others, he has been described as the most influential bandes dessinées artist after Hergé.His most famous works include the series Blueberry, created with writer Jean-Michel Charlier, featuring one of the first anti-heroes in Western comics. As Mœbius he created a wide range of science fiction and fantasy comics in a highly imaginative, surreal, almost abstract style. These works include Arzach and the Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius. He also collaborated with avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for an unproduced adaptation of Dune and the comic book series The Incal.
Mœbius also contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction and fantasy films, such as Alien, Tron, The Fifth Element and The Abyss. Blueberry was adapted for the screen in 2004 by French director Jan Kounen.Lion Comics
Lion Comics (Tamil: லயன் காமிக்ஸ்) is a Tamil comic book series published by Prakash Publishers, in South India. Both Lion Comics and its sister publication 'Muthu Comics' (முத்து காமிக்ஸ்), are published monthly in Tamil language. In fact, Muthu Comics is the forerunner to Lion Comics, even though the latter has taken over as the leading brand of the comic publication. The Editor/publisher of the concern, Mr. S Vijayan, is based in Sivakasi, where the comics publishing house also is based out.
Almost all of the stories published are Tamil translations of primarily European and rarely some American comic series, including those from the British Comics Publisher of the same name - Lion. Tex Willer, along with Lucky Luke and Mike Blueberry are the most popular cowboy heroes; Steel Claw and The Spider were the more popular superheroes during the comic house's best of times.