schtroumpf.jpgJust learned from Thierry Capezzone that Belgian comics writer and legendary editor of Spirou magazine, Yvan Delporte passed away this morning, at the age of 78. My impression of him is that he was always something of a cantankerous, and very vocal, character on the Belgian comics scene, and his merits as editor of Spirou during what must be described as its most important period, from 1955-68, are well known: he introduced the special section for more mature readers “Le Trombone Illustré” in 1977 and collaborated with a number of the staff artists regularly, both as idea man – for example on Franquin’s “Gaston Lagaffe” whose 50th anniversay we are currently celebrating, as well as his darkly caustic swan song “Idées noires” – and as bona fide writer.

In this last capacity his most notable contribution is to Peyo’s Smurfs, and his most significant work is certainly Le Schtroumpfissime (1965) a good-natured but nevertheless pointed political allegory that tells the story of the egalitarian ur-communist society of the smurfs descends into tyranny when their benevolent patriarch leaves on a long research trip. A both funny and chilling story of the precarious nature of human civilisation, and a minor masterpiece of the Franco-Belgian tradition.

À votre santé, M. Delporte!

Delporte’s on Wiki and Lambiek. The image is from Le Schtroumpfissime, naturally.