Blueberry (comics)

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Blueberry
Blueberry as drawn by Jean Giraud
Publication information
Publisher Dargaud, Le Lombard, Fleurus, Hachette, Novedi, Alpen Publishers
Format Graphic novel
Genre
Publication date 1963–present
Main character(s) Mike S. Blueberry (born as Michael Steven Donovan)
Creative team
Writer(s) Jean-Michel Charlier (1963-1990), Jean Giraud (1995-2012)
Artist(s) Jean "Mœbius" Giraud
Creator(s) Jean-Michel Charlier
Jean 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."[1] In any situation, he sees what he thinks needs doing, and he does it.

It has been remarked that during the 1960s, Blueberry "was as much a staple in French comics as, say, The Avengers or The Flash here [in the USA]."[2]

Synopsis[edit]

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.

Characters[edit]

Publication history[edit]

Original publications in French[edit]

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.[3] Therefore Jijé proposed his protégé Giraud as the artist.[4] 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.[5] 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[6][7] - 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!"[3]

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.[8]

After Charlier's death, Giraud wrote and drew five albums, from Mister Blueberry to Dust, until his own death in 2012.

Translations[edit]

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!"[1]

Table of English translations in the order of original French titles
# French title French release (yyyy/mm)[9] 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
28 Dust 2005/03 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).

Non-English translations[edit]

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 have huge fan base in Tamilnadu(one of Indian state), where he is called as Tiger (கேப்டன் டைகர்). In Tamil கேப்டன் டைகர்(Tiger) published by Prakash Publishers under "Lion Muthu comics" brand.

Prequels and sequels[edit]

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)[edit]

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.

Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean Giraud

  • 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)

Jean-Michel Charlier and Colin Wilson

  • 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

François Corteggiani and Colin Wilson

  • 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

François Corteggiani and Michel Blanc-Dumont

  • 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)

Marshal Blueberry[edit]

Jean Giraud and William Vance, page layout by René Follet

  • 1: Sur ordre de Washington (1991)
  • 2: Mission Shermann (1993)

Jean Giraud and Michel Rouge

  • 3: Frontière sanglante (2000)

Legacy and Awards[edit]

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.[10]
The Blueberry saga published by Epic was nominated for Best American Edition of Foreign Material for the 1992 Harvey Awards.[11]
The Blueberry Saga #1: The Confederate Gold published by Mojo Press was nominated for Best Archival Collection for the 1997 Eisner Awards.[12]

Adaptations and merchandise[edit]

A 2004 film adaptation, Blueberry[13](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.[14] 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.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b R.J.M. Lofficier: Before Nick Fury, There was... Lieutenant Blueberry in Marvel Age #79 October, 1989.
  2. ^ Lofficier, Jean-Marc (December 1988). "Moebius". Comics Interview (64) (Fictioneer Books). pp. 24–37. 
  3. ^ a b Afterword by Jean-Michel Charlier in Blueberry 2: Ballad for a Coffin. Epic Comics. 1989 ISBN #0-87135-570-1
  4. ^ Lambiek Comiclopedia. "Jean Giraud". 
  5. ^ BDoubliées. "Pilote année 1963" (in French). 
  6. ^ TVtropes.com
  7. ^ Video.google.com
  8. ^ Bdoubliees.com
  9. ^ According to Bedetheque.com
  10. ^ Comic Book Awards Almanac. "Adamson Awards". 
  11. ^ 1992 Harvey Award Nominees and Winners
  12. ^ 1997 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners
  13. ^ IMDB.com Movie (Renegade)
  14. ^ Blueberry - Edition Collector, Fnac

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]