Sunday, 7 June 2015

L'Art de Plongée - Les Enquêtes Auto de Margot

This week I'm showcasing some beautiful artwork done in the Ligne Claire (Clear Line) style pioneered by TinTin creator Hergé.

Writer/artist Olivier Marin combines a love of Ligne Claire and classic cars in his series Les Enquêtes Auto de Margot. The series begins in 1959 where Margot is an aspiring journalist trying to make a career at a male-dominated motoring magazine. The sequence I'm featuring comes from the fourth volume, Le Pilote aux Deux Visages. Marin shares the art chores with Callixte (Damien Callixte Schmitz) who is also the colourist. (Click for larger images.)

The story opens in Tuscany in 1962 where Margot is honeymooning with her husband Louis. They discover a door and a wheel from a Fiat 500 washed up on the beach. They find out that there had been an accident during a race and a car had gone over a cliff. At first the driver was reported to have been killed but later it was claimed that he had survived but with severe injuries. Margot tracks down the disfigured, wheelchair-bound driver but is shocked to see him leave the wheelchair and walk about. Determined to find out more, she decides to go diving and look for the Fiat, much to the dismay of Louis.

As the book is still on sale I'm not going to give away any more of the story. If you want to find out what happens you'll have to track down a copy (and learn French if necessary!).

On Callixte's blog you can see some bonus material from a special edition that shows that he did his research on the scuba gear. Margot is using the classic Mistral regulator and we can see the name in the last panel featured.

The mystery diver has the three-tank set-up often used by Cousteau and his team. I was particularly interested to see that Margot's kit is equipped with a J valve.

Like a lot of divers, I learnt about these when I did my Open Water course but have never used one. The J valve shut off when the tank reached 500psi (34 bar) of air and the diver would pull down on the lever to re-open the valve. This was the signal to end the dive and head for the surface. Modern pressure gauges have rendered the J valve obsolete.


  1. Great post and nice research. The artwork is incredible with lots of attention to details. Of course Margot is easy to look at too. Thanks for the explanation of how the J-Valve works.

  2. One common mistake again. The guy with the three bottle setup says "plus d'oxygene". wich means "no oxygen anymore". If he would be diving at that depth with oxygen he would be dead. For the rest an excellent classic BD "Bande Dessinee" with some fine details to the divinggear but also the boat and the car.

  3. Thank you for a nice sample! I went and bought the volume as well as the three preceding ones because I wanted more. Fast-paced adventure, with a whiff of the bandes dessinées that I read as a child in the sixties, and a hero or heroine that rushes headlong into trouble. I actually remember seeing back then all these cars on the street in France. One big difference though, Margot is far curvier and sexier than would have been thinkable then in periodicals for under-age persons at that time.

    If publishing this comment, please delete this line and the following:
    I am a lifelong fan of the French-language bandes dessinées, and recently manga, and your blog sent me to search in my bookshelves (a fresh view on what I have read - one tends to read what one expects rather than what is actually there) and on Internet for similar scenes or episodes. The resulting memo files make up a far too large package to be offered as a comment on your site.

    If you are interested in the result (series, titles, picture of cover, sometimes sample page…) as a look outside the Anglo-Saxon world, as a suggestion for what could be taken up in a future blog, please give me an e-mail address or other means to reach you so that I can send that to you. My e-mail is collected by your comment form, isn't it? No strings attached, it’s up to you to do what you like, I’m just happy to share information.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I'm always happy to receive suggestions for future content. I can't access your profile so I'll post my email here (but modified to avoid bots!): robertmoubert at


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