Thorgal

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Thorgal

Cover of Le Barbare  (2002 Lombard Editions).
Art by Grzegorz Rosiński.
Created by Jean Van Hamme
Grzegorz Rosiński
Publication information
Publisher Lombard Editions (French)
Cinebook Ltd (English)
Formats Original material for the series has been published as a strip in the comics anthology(s) Tintin magazine.
Original language French
Genre
Publication date 1980 – present
Creative team
Creator(s) Jean Van Hamme
Grzegorz Rosiński
Reprints
Title(s) See: Albums
The series has been reprinted, at least in part, in Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, German, Greek, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, and Turkish.

Thorgal is a critically acclaimed[1] Belgian comic book series by the Belgian writer Jean Van Hamme and the Polish graphic artist Grzegorz Rosiński. It first appeared in serial form in "Tintin" magazine in 1977, and has been published in hardcover volumes by Le Lombard from 1980 on. Translations exist in English, Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian, Polish, Czech, Danish, Finnish (in the Finnish "The Phantom" comic), Swedish (in the Swedish "The Phantom" comic), Norwegian (in the Norwegian "The Phantom" comic[2]), Turkish, Greek and other languages. In 2002, a new story was invented for a point-and-click adventure game, titled Thorgal: Curse of Atlantis, that was released for Windows by Cryo Interactive Entertainment.

The comic unites many themes and legends into one consistent world, ranging from Norse mythology and Atlantean fantasy to science fiction, and including such genres as dark drama, horror and adventure stories.

Thorgal is one of the most popular French language comics. In 2006, album 29, Le Sacrifice was the fifth best selling new comic in French, with 280,000 copies published.[3]

Central characters of the series[edit]

  • Thorgal Aegirsson: Son of Varth and Hayne, grandson of Xargos -captain of a spaceship on a way to Earth in search of energy sources. Raised by Vikings (after the spaceship crashed on Earth) but not one of them, he shows traits of character and morality that many Vikings consider those of a weak man. In reality, if need be, he is a courageous and skillful warrior and an exceptionally skilled archer. His life's goal is to find a place for himself and his family to live in peace. For a time they strip him of his memory, and he becomes the pirate lord Shaigan, though his compassionate personality remained unchanged.
  • Aaricia: Thorgal's wife and daughter of Viking leader Gandalf the Mad. She is bound to Thorgal from the moment of her birth by a magic object named Tjahzi's Tears. Aaricia is a spirited, strong willed woman, and she loves her family dearly despite all the mishaps Thorgal's fate has brought to their lives.
  • Jolan: Thorgal's son who possesses supernatural powers - the heritage of Thorgal's mysterious ancestry. During the majority of the series, his power is limited to molecular agitation (usually disintegrating objects), and although at first not entirely in control of it, he gradually learns to use it deliberately.
  • Louve: Thorgal and Aaricia's daughter. She has the ability to communicate with animals.
  • Kriss of Valnor: young, beautiful, unscrupulous and deadly warrior, also a skilled archer. She first appears in the 9th album, "The Archers" and re-appears intermittently in the following albums. She is in some ways Thorgal's greatest foe, trying to hurt him and his family out of pure hate, but sometimes showing hints of admiration and even secret love for Thorgal. When Thorgal loses his memory, she tricks him into believing they are married, and convinces Thorgal he is the ruthless pirate lord Shaigan. She becomes pregnant with his son shortly before Thorgal regains his memory and leaves to find his family. Later, she ends up as a slave in Byzantium and sacrifices her life to help Thorgal's family escape from the same slave pits. However, even after her demise she continues to haunt Thorgal's family. Her father Kahaniel of Valnor sired her to be able to reincarnate in his first-born male descendant, Aniel.
  • Aniel: the child son of Thorgal and Kriss of Valnor, conceived while Thorgal lived as the pirate lord Shaigan Without Mercy. He and his mother fell prey to Byzantian slavers, and his vocal cords were cut to forestall crying, leaving him mute. Later, Kriss and Aniel escaped the slave pits with Aaricia, Jolan and Louve, who had also been brought there. When Kriss was wounded by her pursuers and prepared to make her last stand, she asked Aaricia to take care of her son. Aaricia agreed and took Aniel in as one of her own children.

Other important characters[edit]

  • Ogotai aka Varth: the war-loving, merciless "god" brought by the sea into the land of Qâ (a presumably South American pre-Columbian civilization). He leads his people into countless conquests of the neighboring tribes and orders endless human sacrifices to himself. He has superior intelligence, knowledge of highly advanced technology, and supernatural powers, which he uses to trick people into believing he is a true god. In reality, he is a grief-stricken, crazed man, driven by the vengeance against the planet he believes responsible for the death of his beloved wife and son.
  • Tanatloc aka Xargos: another "god" living in the land of Qâ. He is the nemesis of Ogotai, with whom he shares a secret past. He is kept hidden from his people.
  • Darek and Lehla: brother and sister children of banished Vikings who met Aaricia and her family after they had been banished from their village following Shaigan's raids against their people. They joined Thorgal and his family on their journey, but after a few adventures they decided to stay behind on an island Thorgal and Louve had just liberated from a tyrant (Issue 24, Arachneà). Lehla has become Jolan's first sweetheart, and their parting was a heart-felt one.
  • The Key Guardian: a powerful magician, who is (or maybe just assumes the form of) a beautiful woman. The gods have entrusted her with the task of guarding the passages between worlds. She walks between the worlds, wearing nothing but a golden girdle that grants her powers and immortality. She has (like many other female characters appearing in the series) a crush on Thorgal, but she respects his loyalty to his family.
  • Tjall (called by some people Tjall-The-Fiery): the young, hot-headed nephew of Treefoot and friend of Thorgal. An excellent archer with a good heart and a silly mind, who has a crush on Kriss. He later dies while accompanying Thorgal to the City of the Lost God (issue 12), saving him from a raging mob.
  • Shaniah: a teenage girl from a village enamored in the adult and married Thorgal. Out of jealousy she causes a great tragedy in Thorgal's life, but later redeems herself by giving her own life for his.
  • Gandalf the Mad: Aaricia's father and king of the Vikings of the North. He became the leader of his tribe after Thorgal's adoptive father's death. Greedy, cruel and mad, he makes repeated attempts at Thorgal's life, whom he perceives a threat to the legitimacy of his own rule.
  • Tiago and Ileniya: brother and sister descendants of a group of space-farers who had landed on Midgard and formed the fabled kingdom of Atlantis. They foiled their elders' plan to enslave the world and travelled together with Thorgal and his family. Soon afterwards, however, they were all taken as slaves to a Byzantinian governor and his sadistic son Heraclius, who made Ilyena his personal 'pet". When Tiago tried to stop Heraclius from abusing his sister, the nobleman murdered him; in revenge, Ileniya killed Heraclius later on and, facing imminent death, joined her brother by throwing herself off a cliff.
  • Snake Nidhogg: a powerful, mythological monster creature, which Thorgal dared to go against in his youth with the help of the goddess Frigg. Based on Níðhöggr from Norse mythology.
  • Treefoot: a warrior past his prime and with a pegleg, but still an exceptional archer and bowmaker. One of Thorgal's few friends.
  • Volsung of Nichor: A cunning, treacherous schemer. He first appears as Thorgal's competitor in Three Elders of Aran, but apparently dies in the tests they have to face. Actually, Nidhogg saves him to be her servant; his mission is to gain the Girdle of Immortality from the Guardian of the Keys. For betraying her, she transforms Volsung into a toad and keeps him with her trapped in the neverness.
  • Muff: A dog that belongs to Jolan & Louve. He appears for the last time in "The Blue Sickness", when he stayed on the island of Our Ground, together with Darek de Svear and his sister Lehla, because he was too old to travel any further.
  • Alinoë: Appeared in the volume of the same name as a violent, primitive boy with green hair and was revealed to be part of Jolan's imagination and he vanished when Jolan's mysterious bracelet was removed by Thorgal.
  • Manthor: a Viking Half-God who cures Thorgal in "Sacrifice". He is the son of Kahaniel of Valnor and the half-brother of Kriss of Valnor.
  • Vigrid: One of the lesser Gods of Asgard who is indebted towards Aaricia for having helped him after having gone blind. He repays this debt by helping her husband reach Manthor and bringing her back to her ancestral home.

Fictional character biography[edit]

After of being lost at sea, the ship of Viking leader Leif Haraldson suddenly finds its way home, guided by a mysterious light in the fog. To the supersticious Vikings, the light is seen as a sign from the gods. Once on shore, they find a sort of capsule, which appears to be the source of the mysterious light. Leif opens the capsule and finds a newborn baby boy. He names the child Thor-gal Aegirs-son, after Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, and Aegir, the ruler of the sea, because he considers Thorgal to be a gift from the Gods. Leif takes Thorgal under his care as his adoptive son.

As Thorgal grows up, he is curious about his origins and often ostracized by his peers for not being a "real" Viking. On his sixth birthday, Leif gives him two strange artifacts taken from the capsule he was found in. One is a jewel made from the metal that doesn't exist. The jewel brings Thorgal on his first adventure, and binds his fate forever with that of Aaricia (his future wife). When Thorgal is twelve, the other gift prompts him to visit an old wiseman, who reveals to Thorgal his origins and true identity. He tells him that he's one of the last survivors of a group of technologically advanced space-farers who came to the planet in search of new energy sources. His people have great supernatural powers like changing the molecular composition of matter with their mind; powers that Thorgal himself seems not to have. Thorgal learns about his real parents and grandfather, and the events that preceded his birth. The old man decides to erase Thorgal's memory of their encounter and the knowledge he just learned, believing that it will be better for Thorgal to grow up as a "normal" Viking boy with no supernatural powers. Thorgal, however, continues to grow up as curious and conflicted about his true identity as ever.

Soon after this event Leif Haraldson dies and Gandalf the Mad is chosen as his successor. Gandalf repeatedly tries to get rid of Thorgal, because - as he constantly reminds everyone - Thorgal is an outsider and not of Viking blood. In reality, Gandalf feels threatened because Thorgal is Leif's heir. In the meantime, Thorgal's relationship with Aaricia, Gandalf's daughter, develops and strengthens. While her wishes do not have much influence on her father, she is able to save Thorgal from certain death (by her father's hand) through her determination and ingenuity.

The first album of the series starts some years later, when Thorgal is already an adult, and Gandalf devises a plan to kill him after realizing how deep the love his daughter has for Thorgal really is.

Collected editions[edit]

The albums consist of several story arcs and many stand-alone stories.

Jean Van Hamme (story) and Grzegorz Rosiński (art)[edit]

  • 1. La Magicienne Trahie (1980)
  • 2. L'Ile des Mers gelées (1980)
  • 3. Les Trois Vieillards du pays d'Aran (1981)
  • 4. La Galère Noire (1982) (start of the Brek Zarith story arc)
  • 5. Au-delà des Ombres (1983)
  • 6. La chute de Brek Zarith (1984) (end of the Brek Zarith story arc)
  • 7. L'enfant des étoiles (1984) (3 short stories from Thorgal's youth)
  • 8. Alinoë (1985)
  • 9. Les Archers (1985)
  • 10. Le Pays Qâ (1986) (start of the Qâ story arc)
  • 11. Les Yeux de Tanatloc (1986)
  • 12. La Cité du Dieu Perdu (1987)
  • 13. Entre Terre et Lumière (1988) (end of the Qâ story arc)
  • 14. Aaricia (1989) (4 short stories from Aaricia's youth)
  • 15. Le Maître des Montagnes (1989)
  • 16. Louve (1990)
  • 17. La Gardienne des Clés (1991)
  • 18. L'épée-soleil (1992)
  • 19. La Forteresse Invisible (1993) (start of the Shaigan story arc)
  • 20. La Marque des Bannis (1994)
  • 21. La Couronne d'Ogotaï (1995)
  • 22. Géants (1996)
  • 23. La Cage (1997) (end of the Shaigan story arc)
  • 24. Arachnéa (1999)
  • 25. Le Mal Bleu - (1999)
  • 26. Le Royaume sous le Sable (2001)
  • 27. Le Barbare (2002)
  • 28. Kriss de Valnor (2004)
  • 29. Le Sacrifice (2006)

The 29th volume - "Sacrifice" - was the last one written by Jean Van Hamme. This episode centers around Thorgal escaping the curse of Odin and finding peace in the only home he knows: the Viking village of his adopted father. In order to save his father's life, however, Jolan must strike a bargain with a half-God and enter his services upon his family's return to Midgard. The story ends with a somber but understanding farewell between Thorgal and Jolan which Thorgal simply defines as the inevitable way a grown child must take: to set out on his own path in life.

In the Danish version of the series, the albums were released in a different order, starting with the albums of Thorgals youth.[4] The first album in the series La Magicienne Trahie is number 22 in the Danish series.[5]

In Denmark number 22-23 (1-2) were first published by the publisher Interpresse with the special name 'Cormak', probably to imitate the popular series Conan. Soon the name were changed back to "Thorgal" because Carlsen Comics took over the series.[6]

Subsequent volumes were written by Yves Sente. These albums initially focus on Jolan rather than Thorgal.[7]

Yves Sente (story) and Grzegorz Rosiński (art)[edit]

  • 30. Moi, Jolan (2007)
  • 31. Le bouclier de Thor (2008)
  • 32. La bataille d'Asgard (2010)
  • 33. Le bateau-sabre (2011)
  • 34. Kah-Aniel (2013)

Spin-Offs[edit]

Due to the popularity of the series, there have been several spin-offs.

Yves Sente (story) and Giulio De Vita (art)[edit]

Les Mondes de Thorgal - Kriss de Valnor (The Worlds of Thorgal - Kriss of Valnor)

  1. Je n'oublie rien! (I Do Not Forget Anything!) (2010)
  2. La sentence des Walkyries (The Sentence of the Valkyries) (2012)
  3. Digne d'une reine (Fit for a Queen) (2012)
  4. Alliances (Alliances) (2013)

Yann (story) and Roman Surzhenko (art)[edit]

Les Mondes de Thorgal - Louve (The Worlds of Thorgal - Louve)

  1. Raïssa (Raissa) (2011)
  2. La Main coupée du dieu Tyr (The Severed Hand of the God Tyr) (2012)
  3. Le Royaume du chaos (The Kingdom of Chaos) (2013)

Yann (story) and Roman Surzhenko (art)[edit]

Les Mondes de Thorgal - La Jeunesse de Thorgal (The Worlds of Thorgal - The Youth of Thorgal)

  1. Les Trois Soeurs Minkelsönn (The Three Minkelsonn Sisters) (2012)
  2. L'oeil d'Odin (The Eye of Odin) (2014)

English version[edit]

Thorgal, Child of the Stars was published by Donning Company Publishers in 1986 with ISBN 0-89865-501-3.

Cinebook Ltd has begun reprinting the series[8] starting with Child of the Stars and Aaricia in 2007.

  1. Child of the Stars (ISBN 9781905460236) - (collects Child of the Stars and Aaricia)
  2. The Three Elders of Aran (ISBN 9781905460311) - (collects The Three Elders of Aran and The Black Galley)
  3. Beyond the Shadows (ISBN 9781905460458) - (collects Beyond the Shadows and The Fall of Brek Zarith)
  4. The Archers (ISBN 9781905460670) - (collects Alinoë and Les Archers)
  5. The Land of Qa (ISBN 9781905460809) - (collects Le Pays Qâ and Les Yeux de Tanatloc)
  6. City of the Lost God (ISBN 9781849180016) - (collects La Cité du Dieu Perdu and Entre Terre et Lumière)
  7. The Master of the Mountains (ISBN 9781849180238) - (contains Le Maître des Montagnes)
  8. Wolf Cub (ISBN 9781849180351) - (contains Louve)
  9. The Guardian of the Keys (ISBN 9781849180504) - (contains La Gardienne des Clés)
  10. The Sun Sword (ISBN 9781849180573) - (contains L'épée-soleil)
  11. The Invisible Fortress (ISBN 9781849181037) - (contains La Forteresse Invisible)
  12. The Brand of the Exiles (ISBN 9781849181365) - (contains La Marque des Bannis)
  13. Ogotai's Crown (ISBN 9781849181426) - (contains La Couronne d'Ogotaï)
  14. Giants (ISBN 9781849181563) - (Contains Géants)
  15. The Cage (ISBN 9781849181860) - (Contains La Cage)

Other Media[edit]

In 2002 Le Lombard published a video game for Microsoft Windows Thorgal: Curse of Atlantis, developed by Cryo Interactive Entertainment.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Rosinski". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  2. ^ (Norwegian) List Thorgal publications in the Norwegian "The Phantom" comic.
  3. ^ Ratier, Gilles. "ACBD bilan 2006". ACBD.fr. Archived from the original on 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  4. ^ "Thorgal - ComicWiki" (in (Danish)). Comicwiki.dk. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  5. ^ "Thorgal - ComicWiki" (in (Danish)). Comicwiki.dk. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  6. ^ "Thorgal - ComicWiki" (in (Danish)). Comicwiki.dk. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  7. ^ (Polish) Miaśkiewicz, Waldemar (2007). "Rola pierwszych żon (A review of I, Jolan)". Nowa Fantastyka (12). p. 76. 
  8. ^ Thorgal at Cinebook

External links[edit]