The best Franco-Belgian comics (OK, OK, mostly Belgian!)

Bande dessinée (BD, in short) is something you see a lot in French places where books are sold. It’s very popular, and it’s not just for kids. It’s a bit like a comic book, but without the superheroes. If your French is a bit rusty, it’s a fun (and easy) way to read a “book”.

Tintin – Created by Hergé, Tintin is a young Belgian (not French!) reporter, always escorted in his travels by his dog Milou and the Capitaine Haddock. He is a great traveller who has visited, among other countries, the Congo, China, Tibet, Peru, and even walked on the Moon!

Astérix – The series, created by Uderzo and Goscinny, first appeared in 1959. It follows the exploits of a village of indomitable Gauls as they resist Roman occupation. They do so by means of a magic potion, brewed by their druid, which gives the recipient superhuman strength. The protagonist, the titular character Asterix, along with his friend Obelix, have various adventures, and the series is one of the most popular Franco-Belgian comics in the world.

Gaston LagaffeGaston (in English) is a comic strip created in 1957 by the Belgian cartoonist André Franquin in the comic strip magazine, Spirou. The series focuses on the every-day life of Gaston Lagaffe (whose surname means “the blunder”), a lazy and accident-prone office junior.

Lucky LukeLucky Luke is a Belgian comics series created by Belgian cartoonist Maurice De Bevere, better known as Morris, and for one period, written by René Goscinny. Set in the American Old West, it stars the titular character, Lucky Luke, the cowboy known to “draw faster than his shadow”. About half of the series’ adventures have been translated into English.

Les Schtroumpf – The Smurf (in English) is a tiny, blue-skinned humanoid creature in white clothing, created by Peyo, and followed by his numerous peers who look just like him, with an elderly leader who wears red clothing and has a white beard, called Papa Smurf. The characters proved to be a huge success, and the first independent Smurf stories appeared in Spirou in 1959.

Boule et Bill – The series, created by Jean Roba relates the homely adventures of a seven-year-old boy Boule and his dog Bill, a Cocker Spaniel, as well as that of Boule’s mother and father, and Caroline the turtle. Bill, while slightly anthropomorphised, basically acts as a normal dog, and the whole series places comical adventures in the realistic setting of a normal family in a normal town, with normal lives.

Which French comics have your read? Which is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below.

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Published: May 14, 2013

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