Blueberry as drawn by Jean Giraud
|Publisher||Dargaud, Le Lombard, Fleurus, Hachette, Novedi, Alpen Publishers|
|Main character(s)||Mike S. Blueberry (born as Michael Steven Donovan)|
|Writer(s)||Jean-Michel Charlier (1963-1990), Jean Giraud (1995-2012)|
|Artist(s)||Jean "Mœbius" Giraud|
Blueberry is a Franco-Belgian comics western series created 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.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Characters
- 3 Publication history
- 4 Legacy and Awards
- 5 Adaptations and merchandise
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
The story follows Michael Steven Donovan, nicknamed "Blueberry", a name he chooses when fleeing from his Southern enemies (which is inspired when he looks at a blueberry bush), starting with his adventures as a lieutenant in the United States Cavalry shortly after the American Civil War. He is accompanied in many tales by his hard-drinking deputy, Jimmy McClure, and later also by Red Woolley, a rugged pioneer.
Donovan is the son of a rich Southern farmer and starts as a dedicated racist. He is framed for a murder he did not commit, flees and is saved by an African-American. He becomes an enemy of discrimination of all kinds, fights against the Confederates, and tries to protect the rights of Native Americans.
Original publications in French
Blueberry has its roots in Giraud's earlier Western-themed works such as Frank et Jeremie, which was drawn for Far West magazine when he was only 18, and his collaboration on Jijé's Jerry Spring in 1961, which appeared in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Spirou. Around 1961-1962 Jean Giraud asked Jean-Michel Charlier, whether he wanted to write scripts for a new western series for Pilote. Charlier refused at first, since he never felt much empathy for the genre. In 1963 the magazine sent Charlier on a reporting assignment to Edwards Airforce Base in the Mojave Desert, California. He took the opportunity to 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 thought there would be a conflict of interest, since he was a regular artist at Spirou, a competing comic magazine. Therefore Jijé proposed his protégé Giraud as the artist. Charlier and Giraud have also collaborated on another Western strip, Jim Cutlass.
Blueberry was first published in the October 31, 1963 issue of Pilote magazine. 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. 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!"
Charlier and Giraud continued to add to the legend of Mike Blueberry in Pilote and other titles even into the 1990s. During that time the artistic style has varied greatly, much as with Giraud's other works. In the same volume, sweeping landscapes will contrast sharply with hard-edged action scenes and the art matches the changing mood of the story quite well. Like much of the Western genre, Blueberry touches on the constant conflict between violence and tranquility, nature and civilization, and the obligation of the strong to protect the weak.
Between 1963 and 1973 Blueberry stories were first published in Pilote or Super Pocket Pilote prior to issuing them in album format.
After Charlier's death, Giraud wrote and drew five albums, from Mister Blueberry to Dust, until his own death in 2012.
The first English translations of Blueberry comics were published in Europe during the late seventies by Egmont/Methuen. Since then English translations were published by many other companies (Epic Comics, Comcat, Mojo Press, Dark Horse Comics) resulting into all kinds of formats and quality—from b/w, American comic book sized budget collections to full color European style albums with many extras. Since 1993 no Blueberry comics have been published in English. Moebius painted new covers for the Epic line of Blueberry. Actually this was the first time Blueberry was published under Giraud's pseudonym, Moebius. As R.J.M. Lofficier, the translator of the books wrote: "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!"
|#||French title||French release (yyyy/mm)||English saga title||English title and data||Note|
|1||Fort Navajo||1965/09||Lieutenant Blueberry: Fort Navajo Series||Fort Navajo (Egmont/Methuen, 1977)||Published in Belgium|
|2||Tonnerre à l'ouest||1966/01||Thunder in the West (Egmont/Methuen, 1977)|
|3||L'aigle solitaire||1967/01||Lone Eagle (Egmont/Methuen, 1978)|
|4||Le cavalier perdu||1968/01||Mission to Mexico (Egmont/Methuen, 1978), The Lost Rider (Dargaud)|
|5||La piste des Navajos||1969/01||not translated|
|6||L'homme à l'étoile d'argent||1969/10||The Man with the Silver Star (Dargaud, 1983)|
|7||Le cheval de fer||1970/01||Lieutenant Blueberry||The Iron Horse (Epic, 1991)|
|8||L'homme au poing d'acier||1970/03||Steel Fingers (Epic, 1991)|
|9||La piste des Sioux||1971/01||General Golden Mane (Epic, 1991)||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title: The Trail of the Sioux|
|10||Général tête jaune||1971/10||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title same as book title.|
|11||La mine de l'allemand perdu||1972/01||Marshall Blueberry||The Lost Dutchman's Mine (Epic, 1991)||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title same as book.|
|12||Le spectre aux balles d'or||1972/07||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title: The Ghost with the Golden Bullets|
|13||Chihuahua Pearl||1973/01||Blueberry||Chihuahua Pearl (Epic, 1989)||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title same as book.|
|14||L'homme qui valait 500 000 $||1973/07||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title: "The Half-a-Million Dollar Man"|
|15||Ballade pour un cercueil||1974/01||Ballad for a Coffin (Epic, 1989)||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title same as book.|
|16||Le hors-la-loi||1974/10||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title: The Outlaw|
|17||Angel Face||1975/07||Angel Face (Epic, 1989)||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title same as book.|
|18||Nez Cassé||1980/01||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title: Broken Nose|
|19||La longue marche||1980/10||The Ghost Tribe (Epic, 1990)||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title: The Long March|
|20||La tribu fantôme||1982/03||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title same as book.|
|21||La dernière carte||1983/11||The End of the Trail (Epic, 1990)||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title: The Last Card|
|22||Le bout de la piste||1986/09||Two chapters in one book. Chapter title same as book.|
|23||Arizona Love||1990/10||Arizona Love (Dark Horse Comics, 1993)||Divided into sequels: Cheval Noir #46-50. Black and white, American current size comic book format.|
|24||Mister Blueberry||1995/11||not translated|
|25||Ombres sur Tombstone||1997/11||not translated|
|26||Geronimo l'Apache||1999/10||not translated|
|27||OK Corral||2003/09||not translated|
- In the case of some Epic versions (Chihuahua Pearl, Ballad for a Coffin, Angel Face, The Ghost Tribe, and The End of the Trail), Titan Books has issued the identically same albums for the UK market, with a few months delay.
- Mojo Press published a black and white, American comic book sized budget collection: The Blueberry Saga #1: The Confederate Gold in 1996. It contains the following stories: Chihuahua Pearl, "The Half-A-Million Dollar Man", Ballad for a Coffin, The Outlaw, Angel Face. It also contains a 14 page non Blueberry comic.
- Some issues of Graphitti Design's series presenting Moebius dealt with Blueberry. Moebius #9 contains the The Lost Dutchman's Mine and The Ghost with the Golden Bullets, along with non-Blueberry westerns (King of the Buffalo, Jim Cutlass: Mississippi River).
Since its inception, the series has slowly gained a large following in Europe, and has been extensively translated into several languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Finnish, Serbo-Croatian, Hungarian and Turkish. Apart from Europe, in India it has been translated in Mizo by Mahlua of Cydit communications, Aizawl and also in Indonesian.
Blueberry Saga has a huge fan base in Tamil Nadu - a south-Indian state - where he is known as Captain Tiger (கேப்டன் டைகர்). The series has been published by Prakash Publishers under their own banner "Lion Muthu comics".
Prequels and sequels
A "prequel" series, La Jeunesse de Blueberry (Young Blueberry), as well as the sequels Marshal Blueberry and Mister Blueberry have been published as well, with other artists and writers, most famously William Vance.
The Young Blueberry (La Jeunesse de Blueberry)
A prequel dealing with Blueberry's early years, during the American Civil War—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 few albums were first seen in digest size Super Pocket Pilote during the late sixties. Later these were blown up, rearranged, colored, to fit the album format. Some panels were omitted in the process. The 1990 English language edition of these stories, by Catalan Communications under their "Comcat" line, give track of the changes and present the left out panels. Only the first three stories were published in English, although the company planned to publish The Missouri Demons and Terror over Kansas, as can be seen on the back covers of the ones published. The three albums were also published in a single hardcover version.
- 1: La jeunesse de Blueberry (1975)—Blueberry's Secret (ComCat comics, September 1989)
- 2: Un Yankee nommé Blueberry (1978)—A Yankee Named Blueberry (ComCat comics, March 1990)
- 3: Cavalier bleu (1979)—The Blue Coats (ComCat comics, July 1990)
- 4: Les démons du Missouri (1985)—The Missouri Demons
- 5: Terreur sur le Kansas (1987)—Terror Over Kansas
- 6: Le raid infernal (1987)—The Train from Hell
- 7: La pousuite impitoyable (1992)—The Merciless Pursuit
- 8: Trois hommes pour Atlanta (1993)—The Three Men from Atlanta
- 9: Le prix du sang (1994)—The Price of Blood
- 10: La solution Pinkerton (1998)
- 11: La piste des maudits (2000)
- 12: Dernier train pour Washington (2001)
- 13: Il faut tuer Lincoln (2003)
- 14: Le boucher de Cincinnati (2005)
- 15: La sirene de Vera-Cruz (2006)
- 16: 100 dollars pour mourir (2007)
- 17: Le Sentier des larmes (2008)
- 18: 1276 âmes (2009)
- 19: Redemption (2010)
- 20: Gettysburg (2012)
- 1: Sur ordre de Washington (1991)
- 2: Mission Shermann (1993)
- 3: Frontière sanglante (2000)
Legacy and Awards
The series has received wide recognition in the comics community, and the chief factor when Giraud received the Swedish Adamson Award for Best International Comic Series in 1979.
The Blueberry saga published by Epic was nominated for Best American Edition of Foreign Material for the 1992 Harvey Awards.
The Blueberry Saga #1: The Confederate Gold published by Mojo Press was nominated for Best Archival Collection for the 1997 Eisner Awards.
Adaptations and merchandise
A 2004 film adaptation, Blueberry(U.S. release title is Renegade), was directed by Jan Kounen and starred Vincent Cassel in the lead role. However, many purists were appalled by this film. It arguably did not stay true to the action-based, gritty comic, but rather featured an esoteric, trippy presentation of shamanism (if anything, more resembling the Mœbius style).
In addition to the comic strips, Blueberry and his fellow characters can be found on posters, clothing, and other items.
- R.J.M. Lofficier: Before Nick Fury, There was... Lieutenant Blueberry in Marvel Age #79 October, 1989.
- Lofficier, Jean-Marc (December 1988). "Moebius". Comics Interview (64) (Fictioneer Books). pp. 24–37.
- Afterword by Jean-Michel Charlier in Blueberry 2: Ballad for a Coffin. Epic Comics. 1989 ISBN 0-87135-570-1
- Lambiek Comiclopedia. "Jean Giraud".
- BDoubliées. "Pilote année 1963" (in French).
- According to Bedetheque.com
- Comic Book Awards Almanac. "Adamson Awards".
- 1992 Harvey Award Nominees and Winners
- 1997 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners
- IMDB.com Movie (Renegade)
- Blueberry - Edition Collector, Fnac
- Erik Svane, Martin Surmann, Alain Ledoux, Martin Jurgeit, Gerhard Förster, Horst Berner: Blueberry und der europäische Western-Comic (Zack-Dossier 1; Berlin: Mosaik, 2003). ISBN 3-932667-59-X:lion muthu comics blogspot.com