Thursday, 19 March 2020

Michel en Plongée

Teenage detectives have been a staple of children's fiction for decades. One example from France is Michel Thérais who featured in 39 books published between 1958 and 1985 as part of Hachette's Bibliothèque Verte (Green Library). They told of fifteen-year-old Michel who lived in Corbie, a village in Picardy near Amiens. His parents were Lucien, a well-known scientist and chemist, and Claire. His eleven-year-old brother and sister, twins Yves and Marie-France, would often cause him problems. Michel's companions were his cousin Daniel, sixteen-year-old Arthur, a former classmate now working as a mechanic, and swimming champion Martine.

Michel en Plongée was the 14th book in the series and first published in 1964. The cover and other illustrations were by Philippe Daure whose work appeared in all but one of the books.

The back cover text read as follows:

Etrange, l'idée de Michel!
Pourquoi passer des vacances dans un hameau à moitié englouti sous les eaux?
Dès le premier soir, la ferme de l'oncle Anthonime reçoit des visiteurs bien inattendus! La mystérieuse accusation qui pèse sur l'oncle de Michel met en jeu l'honneur de toute la famille.
La vérité, dit-on, est au fond du puits. C'est peut-être au fond du lac que Michel devra la chercher, au prix de quelles aventures et de quelles difficultés!

and in English coutresy of Bing Translator:

Strange, Michel's idea!
Why spend a holiday in a hamlet half-engulfed under the water?
From the first evening, Uncle Anthonime's farm welcomes unexpected visitors! The mysterious accusation against Michel's uncle involves the honour of the whole family.
The truth, they say, is at the bottom of the well. It is perhaps at the bottom of the lake that Michel will have to look for it, at the cost of what adventures and what difficulties!

On his website, artist Philippe Daure notes that this was the first time the artwork filled the whole cover. On previous books he'd always left some white space for the text.

In 1973 the book was reissued with new cover art by Daure:

In the 1980s he reworked elements from the front and back covers of the 1973 edition to produce a new piece of artwork:

It's interesting to note that he updated Michel's mask but left him with the old Cousteau three-tank system.

The final book of the series, Michel Fait Surface also featured diving and one of the interior illustrations shows some more modern scuba equipment.

Author Georges Bayard (1918-2004) studied to be a teacher, graduating in Amiens in 1937. The war saw him joining the army as a reserve officer before serving in the resistance. His activities earned him the War Cross and the Medal of Resistance. He rejoined the army in 1944 where he remained until 1952, earning his English interpreters certificate.

In addition to teaching, he became involved in publishing, first by translating English works for French readers before embarking on his own writing career. In addition to the Michel books, his other work included two more series for Hachette, Cécile (also for the Green Library) and César (for the Pink Library). This excellent site describes Cécile and César as a female Michel and Michel with short pants respectively. Three of the César books feature artwork by Philippe Daure.

English and American readers might be interested to know that the Green Library also featured the Jennings books (Bennett et Mortimer), The Dana Girls (Les Soeurs Parker) and The Three Investigators (Les Trois Jeunes Détectives).

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Buckle up for the Art of Diving!

It's been a while since I posted anything but hopefully you'll see a few more things from me soon.

Something slightly different for this post - some belt buckles. This style of  buckle was popularised by Cowboy films but they in turn were developed from plate-style buckles used as far back as the American Civil War.

This Dacor buckle also featured a design on the rear.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

The Humorous Art of Diving - A Mixed Bag of Boltinoff

Here's a final selection of Henry Boltinoff's short strips. (Click for larger images).

Freddie the Frogman appeared in issue three of Showcase from 1956 which featured, appropriately enough, "The Frogmen!"

The rest of this selection all appeared in early issues of Aquaman in 1962/3 although Lucky was a reprint having previously appeared in a 1957 issue of Superboy.

I don't know if this Shorty is supposed to be the same one who featured in the previous Boltinoff selection.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

The Return of S.N.O.R.K.E.L (At last!)

Back in March/April 2017 I presented a comic strip called S.N.O.R.K.E.L. from the pages of TV21. I promised to bring you more of Johnny Webb's adventures but for some reason this never happened. Well, better late than never I hope.

It turns out that, after the 15-week opening adventure, the strip was on borrowed time and only ran for another four weeks. I think economic reasons were behind the demise of S.N.O.R.K.E.L. and it was replaced by an imported (and presumably cheaper) strip  -  The Blue Angels (original title Buck Danny).

Apologies for anyone who's been on tenterhooks for the last two-and-a-half years but your wait is finally over - here's Johnnie! (Click for larger images).

As it turns out, this wasn't quite the end for Johnny (or Johnnie depending on which issue you read!) and a text story appeared in the 1972 TV21 Annual. It only had two illustrations and only one of those featured any underwater action. It also made the back cover of the annual with a copy of Alan Willow's cover to issue 39, complete with dodgy looking sharks!

Die-hard S.N.O.R.K.E.L. fans can read the text story here.

Friday, 4 October 2019

The Handheld Art of Diving

Back in 1983 divers could while away their surface intervals with this state of the art game from Casio!

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Three of a Kind - More Morane

Following a post from 2016, here are three more titles featuring French adventurer Bob Morane. (Click for larger images).

The Emerald Eye

Do I need to translate this one?!

The Sunken Galley

And here's a bonus second over for The Sunken Galley.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Once Upon a Dive

A mixture of fairy tales, children's stories and educational features, Once Upon A Time proudly proclaimed on the cover of its first issue that it was "the loveliest paper in the world!" Published by City Magazines from 1969 - 1972, the magazine boasted full-colour throughout its 163 issues and featured some beautiful work by artists such as Ron Embleton, Don Lawrence, Phil Mendoza and Jesús Blasco to name but a few.

The first two pieces featured here are by Andrew Howat. The originals are currently for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery: School of Sharks and Sea Turtle and Diver. They also have a brief biography of Howat. (Click for larger images).

The Art of Diving would just like to stress that it does not condone touching marine life!

I'm not sure who the artist is on this next piece. The Art of Diving would also like to stress that it does not condone the collecting of coral!

This final piece was one of three items grouped together under the heading Well, Fancy That!

The statue of Christ featured in an earlier Art of Diving post back in 2014.