Zembla (comics)

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Zembla is a French comic book character and series created by Augusto Pedrazza and Franco Oneta for French publisher Editions Lug in 1963. It centers around a jungle hero.


Zembla was created at the initiative of editor-in-chief Marcel Navarro to compete with the highly successful Tarzanesque, Akim, published by Lug's competitor, Editions Aventures et Voyages.

The first episode of Zembla was drawn by Akim artist Pedrazza, but not being able to juggle the workload of two popular series, he had to bow out and the task was delegated to artists Franco Oneta and, later, his brother Fausto Oneta, who from that point on, remained the two main artists and creators, with a few, occasional fill-in artists.

Zembla’s adventures began in Special-Kiwi No. 15 in June 1963, before moving into its own monthly title the following month. A year later, a companion title, Special-Zembla, was launched. Zembla was eventually cancelled with No. 479 in 1994. Special-Zembla lasted until No. 175 published in 2003.

Zembla is now part of Hexagon Comics which has published a collection of his adventures translated into English.


Zembla is a typically powerful jungle lord who has the ability to communicate with the beasts of the African jungle. His companions include the white lion Bwana, Petoulet the kangaroo, Satanas an irritable wildcat, Wombo the gorilla, a grouchy and inept circus illusionist named Rasmus, teenager Ye-Ye and the beautiful Queen Takuba, who might see Zembla as more than a mere friend. This cast of characters remained unchanged over the life of the series. Zembla’s adventures pit him not only against ordinary villains but also mad scientists, world conquerors, intelligent gorillas, lost civilizations, guns and drugs smugglers, poachers, etc.

Zembla's origins were revealed in a story published 1972. It turned out that Zembla is the child of Paul Marais, a French adventurer who was forced to flee into the jungle to escape the police after a tragic brawl. Injured, Paul was rescued by Ula, a native princess. Unfortunately, her father wanted his daughter to marry Thudor, so Ula and Paul had no choice but to elope. Eventually, their son, Zembla, was born. However, an enraged Thudor managed to find the two lovers and killed them both. Thudor would have also murdered the baby if a lioness whose cub he had previously killed had not leapt to his defence. The baby was then raised by the lions and became known as Zem-bla, meaning the Lion-Child in their language.


In a new series of adventures published in 2000-2003, Zembla was modernized. He was shown to care deeply for his native land, now dubbed the Republic of Karunda. He is concerned about the constant encroachment of the modern world upon the jungle. This new Zembla used his considerable wealth to fund an ecological task-force.

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