The Bellybuttons

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The Bellybuttons
Les Nombrils
Issue 3802 (February 2011) of Spirou magazine, featuring (left to right) Jenny, Karine (in her new look) and Vicky.
Publication information
Publisher Dupuis (French)
Cinebook (English)
Format Ongoing series, serialised in Safarir and Spirou magazines
Genre Graphic chick lit for
young adults
Publication date 2004 – present
Number of issues Number of albums:
3 (in English)
7 (in French)
Creative team
Writer(s) Dubuc (Maryse Dubuc)
Artist(s) Delaf (Marc Delafontaine)
Creator(s) Delaf and Dubuc

The Bellybuttons (French: Les Nombrils) is a French Canadian comics series written by Maryse Dubuc (credited as "Dubuc") and illustrated by her husband, Marc "Delaf" Delafontaine.[1] Dubuc and Delafontaine are based in Sherbrooke, Quebec.


Artist Delaf (left) and writer Dubuc (right) at Salon international du livre de Québec in Quebec City, 2010

As Les Nombrils, the series was introduced in 2004 in issue #188 of the Québécois humour magazine Safarir;[2] it was later picked up in 2005 by the Franco-Belgian comics magazine, Spirou. Spirou's publisher, Dupuis, published its first BD album, Pour qui tu te prends ?, in 2006.[3]

An English version of the series, with its title directly translated to The Bellybuttons, was introduced in 2009 by British publisher Cinebook.[4]

By 2009, Les Nombrils has become one of the best-selling BD album titles on the market, with its third volume, Les liens de l'amitié, having sold over 220,000 copies.[5]

The series was on hiatus from late 2009 until February 2011, when Les Nombrils returned to Spirou in issue 3802.[6]


The series, characterised as "chick lit in graphic novel format" by Cinebook,[7] focuses on three girls—two glamorous and vain, and one homely and down-to-earth—who test their friendships against popularity, boys and jealousy.[1] To each other, they are considered frenemies—at times they help each other out, while at other times they compete for the same man.

In both languages, the name of the series is derived from the body piercing jewellery that the main characters Jenny and Vicky wear in their navels. The title also refers to Jenny and Vicky referring themselves as the "world's bellybutton".

The tagline for the series is "Life is Cruel. Deal with it." In the original French version, "La vie est cruelle. Et puis après ?" (Life is cruel. So what?)[1]


Central characters[edit]

Cover of the first "Bellybuttons" volume, Who do you think you are?: Jenny, Vicky and Karine (in her old look).
  • Jenny is a redhead who dresses herself in a glamorous and revealing fashion. She thinks that the world revolves around her. She is also not too bright, often turning to reference material to find answers to even the simplest questions. She also considers pets to be more fashion accessories than living beings. Despite her glamour, Jenny lives with an impoverished family in a broken home—her mother is an alcoholic; her father's whereabouts are unknown; and her little sister Jenna (who looks a lot like Jenny) turns to her for advice.
  • Vicky is an affluent black brunette. She is fluent in English (in the original French version) because of her origins. However, despite being one of the popular girls in her clique, her older sister, Rebecca, sees her as an inferior person.
  • Karine is a very tall, thin, blonde girl who's often the foil in Jenny and Vicky's jokes. Karine has a boyfriend, Dan, who Jenny and Vicky try to steal or at least keep away from her. Karine plays basketball at her school; however, her abnormally-long torso and arms are a major disadvantage on the fashion scene. After breaking up with Dan (who cheated on Karine as he was also seeing Mélanie, in a series of events that almost landed Karine in jail), Karine drastically changed her look, dyeing her hair black and switching to a more-fashionable black colour scheme.

Supporting characters[edit]

  • Dan is Karine's boyfriend in the first four volumes, who with Karine is a target of Jenny and Vicky's practical jokes, as they attempt to woo Dan away from Karine and more towards them. However, the love triangle takes more of a shape of a pentagon, as he later has a crush on Mélanie, leading Karine to think that she is betrayed.
  • John John is a male motorcyclist who Jenny and Vicky have a crush on; he is never seen without his motorcyclist helmet on. And with good reason—John John is a Siamese twin, with part of his twin's head fused onto his own. Jenny and Vicky don't know the truth, but Karine does, after an online search to see why he always has his helmet on.
  • Murphy is a geekish, teenage boy, not treated well by puberty: his face is plagued with a bad case of acne, he talks with a hoarse voice (as indicated by fonts), and he always threatens suicide when he doesn't get his way—usually in the form of going out with Karine. While his crush on Karine waxes and wanes, he eventually succeeds in getting a girlfriend of his own—the equally-geeky Lizon.
  • Mélanie is a woman who studies African culture as a hobby. She successfully wooed Dan into joining her on a study trip to Africa to help volunteer to help the people and animals there. However, her real motive was to keep Dan away from Karine, having him all to herself. She succeeded, leading Karine to break up with Dan, but she also failed, as Dan saw Mélanie's evil ways.
  • Albin (Alain Delon) is an albino street musician who plays original, personalised songs with his guitar. Following Karine's breakup with Dan, Albin would become her new boyfriend. However, as the relationship kindled, it was discovered that Albin was nicknamed "Le démon blanc" ("The White Devil"), as he was accused in the past, perhaps wrongly, of the murder of his classmates in a fire at a cottage one winter. The lone survivor of the fire heard Albin say "Je vais faire un monde meilleur" ("I will make a better world"); however, Albin and the survivor, who later became a member of Albin's band, said that it wasn't true.


In 2010, Dubuc won the Joe Shuster Award in the "Outstanding Writer" category for her work in the fourth Les Nombrils album, "Duel de belles"; she was the first francophone winner in this category since the awards were created in 2005.[8][9] She was first nominated in 2009 in the "Outstanding Writer" and "Outstanding Colourist" categories for her work in Les liens de l'amitié.

In 2011, this volume was chosen by Communication-Jeunesse as the book most-preferred by Québécois readers aged 12 to 17.[10][11]

In 2012, Delaf and Dubuc were nominated for that year's Joe Shuster Award for the fifth volume, Un Couple D’enfer - Delaf for the Artist category, and Dubuc for the Writer category;[12] neither won that year.[13]

In October 2012, Delaf and Dubuc won the top prize in the Meilleur Album Jeunesse (Best Album for Young Readers) category for Un Couple D’enfer at the Festival Chambéry BD in Chambéry, France.[14][15]

Other languages[edit]

In addition to English, Les Nombrils has been translated into these languages. Unless specified, all translate to "Bellybuttons".

Language Local Title Publisher Source
Czech Pupiky Albatros Media / CooBoo [16][17]
Slovak Pupčeky Albatros Media / CooBoo [18]
Danish Navlerne Egmont Serieforlaget
(backup feature in "Tempo" magazine)[19]
Zoom Forlag
Dutch Mooie Navels
("Pretty Belly buttons")
Dupuis [21]
Icelandic [22]
Italian Le Ombeliche [23]
Norwegian Jentelus
("Cooties", lit. "girl lice")
Ombligos Dibbuks [25]
Swedish Navelskådarna
("The Navel-gazers")


As of October 2013:


  • The Bellybuttons: 1 - Who Do You Think You Are? (ISBN 9781905460885) May 2009
  • The Bellybuttons: 2 - It's Ugly Out There! (ISBN 9781849180177) Feb. 2010
  • The Bellybuttons: 3 - The Bonds of Friendship (ISBN 9781849180702) Feb. 2011
  • The Bellybuttons: 4 - Clash of the Beauties (Unreleased)


[3], unless specified.


  1. ^ a b c "The Bellybuttons; catty and cruel tales from the schoolyard...". November 27, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  2. ^ Per trivia question on Safarir's Facebook page; September 25, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Les Nombrils". Dupuis. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  4. ^ "Bellybuttons, The". Cinebook. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  5. ^ Ratier, Gilles. "Bilan 2009". ACBD. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  6. ^ From the official "Les Nombrils" Facebook page, posted February 23, 2011.(French)
  7. ^ "Cinebook ... at the London Book Fair 20–22 April 2009" (PDF). Press release. Cinebook. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  8. ^ "2010 Outstanding Writer – Maryse Dubuc". Joe Shuster Award. June 22, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  9. ^ Martin, Laura (8 June 2010). "Un prix canadien pour Maryse Dubuc". La Tribune (in French). Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Les Nombrils" Facebook page, June 8, 2011.(French)
  11. ^ Communication-Jeunesse: "Palmarès des livres préférés des jeunes 2010-2011", June 9, 2011.(French)
  12. ^ The Joe Shuster Awards: "Full list of 2012 Nominees / La liste complète des nominés 2012", May 9, 2012.
  13. ^ Comic Book Daily: "Joe Shuster Awards: 2012 Winners", September 17, 2012.
  14. ^ Per Les Nombrils' official Facebook page, October 19, 2012. (French)
  15. ^ Chambéry BD: "Palmarès 2012"(French)
  16. ^ Albatros Media: "Pupiky" (Czech)
  17. ^ Les Nombrils' Facebook page, April 4, 2011.(French)
  18. ^ Les Nombrils' Facebook page, June 11, 2012.(French)
  19. ^ Navlerne -
  20. ^ Les Nombrils' Facebook page, May 18, 2011.(French)
  21. ^ Dupuis: "Mooie Navels"(Dutch)
  22. ^ Les Nombrils' Facebook page, March 4, 2012.(French)
  23. ^ Les Nombrils' Facebook page, May 3, 2011.(French)
  24. ^ Les Nombrils' Facebook page, May 23, 2011.(French)
  25. ^ Norma Comics: "OMBLIGOS 01: ¿TÚ QUIÉN TE CREES QUE ERES?"(Spanish)
  26. ^ "Jeunes belles et vaches nombrils intégral"
  27. ^ Les Nombrils' Facebook page, July 26, 2011.(French)
  28. ^ "Nombrils t.05 (1/3)noir cauche nombrils (Hardcover)"
  29. ^ "Nombrils t.05 (2/3)rouge enfer nombrils (Comic)"
  30. ^ "Nombrils t.05 (3/3 pformat) nombrils (Paperback)"

External links[edit]