The comic books and artworks set to be sold at Christie’s Paris encompass some of the most celebrated figures in comic book history, says Christie’s specialist Béatrice Epezy: ‘From Hergé’s Tintin and Captain Haddock — exceptionally illustrated on the original Journal de Tintin — to Albert Uderzo’s legendary Asterix And Obelix.’ Here, we look at three other masters of the genre.
A friend of and frequent collaborator with Tintin creator Hergé, Belgian artist Edgar P. Jacobs is recognised as one of the world’s greatest comic book authors.
‘Published as part of Blake and Mortimer series, this plate is taken from the 1956 comic book The Yellow M — a work which marked a turning point in Jacobs’ career, rapidly becoming amongst his most iconic,’ says Béatrice Epezy.
The Yellow M’s eighth plate illustrates a key moment in the Blake and Mortimer stories, the two leads making their first official intervention into a tense investigation. It is also the first time that Blake and Mortimer were drawn in the same frame.
‘It’s the sort of piece a comic book lover dreams of finding,’ explains Epezy. ‘This plate comes from a legendary work, represents the artist’s graphic skill, and records a historic moment in the Blake and Mortimer stories — it’s an incredibly rare find.’
‘Known for his distinctive style, Bilal is regarded as one of France’s most accomplished living cartoonists,’ says Epezy. Works by the artist have been recognised by big-name institutions such as the Louvre, which dedicated an exhibition to Bilal in 2012.
‘Christie’s sale features 10 plates by Enki Bilal, amassed by a young enthusiast who began collecting comic books from the early 1980s,’ says Epezy. Drawings in the collection are taken from popular graphic novels including The Carnival of Immortals and The Hunting Party.
‘Today, the biggest names in contemporary cartoons are increasingly producing large-format illustrations, which allow them to fully express the extent of their creative and graphic skill,’ Epezy explains.
Amongst them is Jean-Pierre Gibrat, a French cartoonist captivated by the French occupation, whose work Exode is featured in the Christie’s sale. ‘This large scene depicts a patchwork of invented characters,’ says Epezy. Highly detailed — from the work’s foreground to its sketched horizon — these characters are ‘so developed we might believe them to be real,’ she adds.