the roaring return of Michel Vaillant

the roaring return of Michel Vaillant

This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes in full the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic strip hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis. Its two authors, Denis Lapière and Vincent Dutreuil, slipped into the shoes of the famous racing driver on the Vaillante Académie circuit, in Fontenay-le-Comte, in Vendée…

The sun has just risen on the private racing circuit of Fontenay-le-Comte, giving a fuchsia pink color to the busy sky. It rained all night, but the clouds no longer threaten the track. The weather has turned nice. The day is likely to hold surprises.

At the Vaillante Académie, Thierry Place welcomes new trainees. We are quite impressed to discover “for real” the racing cars designed by Jean Graton in his albums. “It’s true, it always has a funny effect to discover Michel Vaillant’s blue single-seaters, smiled the master of the place. The “design” imagined for the album Honor of the Samurai has been faithfully reproduced on these racing vehicles with a 150 horsepower engine! These cars are exclusively manufactured by one of the oldest Irish manufacturers, the Crosslé Car Company, born in 1957, which is… the year of birth of Michel Vaillant!”

Intrepid paper pilot

Michael Valiant! Just saying his name fires the imagination of motor racing fans. And the comic strips begin to hum with pleasure. This intrepid paper pilot appeared in The Tintin Journal has become for sixty-five years “more than a hero, a true friend, strong, loyal and courageous”.

This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publish In the hell of Indianapolis by Denis Lapière and Vincent Dutreuil, Michel Vaillant’s next adventure set during the 1966 Indianapolis 500. To taste even more viscerally the exploits of Jean Graton’s mechanical knight, Jean-Louis Dauger, brand director and of the Michel Vaillant development, invites you to a new experience: transform yourself into a car racer and slip behind the wheel of a vintage Vaillante from the 1960s to rev up an engine that is just waiting for it. The opportunity is too good!

Michael Valiant. Editions Dupuis-GRAPH © Expression

“The objective of the Vaillante Académie, a flight school born in July 2020 and whose first session took place on May 16, 2021, is very simple, says Thierry Place. We move all those who want it from virtual to real!” Fans are truly projected into the world of comics. They begin by donning the boots, the fireproof suit in the colors of the Vaillante team, as well as the helmet and gloves.

From reality to fiction

Once the metamorphosis is complete, we take some driving lessons and start! “Please note, there is no chronometric sanction, I refuse to do so, warns Thierry Place. The comic book lovers who are there can immerse themselves quietly in the world of racing and realize on the circuit a childhood dream tinged with nostalgia. So far, our oldest trainee is 82 years old. He came from Belgium simply to have a good time sharing his passion for his favorite youth comics. Three instructors and two mechanics are there to give all the necessary advice. But the most important thing is the possibility of getting back into Formula 1 cars from the 1960s. For me, that’s the very soul of driving.”

On the Fontenay-le-Comte circuit, that day, the two authors of the next Michael Vaillant. Screenwriter Denis Lapière and designer Vincent Dutreuil each donned a white, blue and red jumpsuit, ready to race down the track while revving their engines.

The challenge of the new “Legends” collection is to bring a different perspective to motor racing

Denis Lapière, screenwriter

“What Jean-Louis Dauger and Thierry Place are doing is great, summarizes the screenwriter passionate about car racing. These two bring reality into fiction. With Vincent Dutreuil, we did exactly the opposite for the new collection Michael Valiant. Legends : we have brought fiction into reality!”

It is true that by reinstalling Michel Vaillant – and his inseparable adventure companion Steve Warson – in the heart of the Indianapolis 500 of 1966, the Lapière-Dutreuil tandem plunges back into the blessed period of F 1. “It was the time when Steve McQueen drove at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as Paul Newman or Jean-Louis Trintignant, recalls Lapière. The cars did not yet have on-board computing. It was raw, like what we’re going to do here. Very sincerely, we quibbled a lot before finding the right line, the right design, the right layout, the rhythm and the tone that we wanted to give to this new vintage series. The challenge of the new collection legends, it is to bring a different perspective to motor racing. Here, we tell you about the famous 500 miles of Indianapolis 1966, while injecting Michel and Steve as privileged witnesses!

What is so special about this American competition? “It’s a crazy race, respond the authors in chorus. In 1966, a third of the cars involved crashed. This huge pileup eliminated 11 out of 33 vehicles. But above all, it was by winning Indianapolis that Graham Hill won the grail of all racers: the triple crown, the “hat trick”. That is to say, in succession, the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 in IndyCar and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A feat of which he is the sole holder to date.

Back to origins

Taking advantage of the charm of the sixties, Lapière and Dutreuil mix in the album another plot than that of the race: at the start of the adventure, Vaillant and Warson save a young girl (who looks furiously like Françoise Hardy) from the clutches of a Band bad boys mafia. The album advances a bit as if we had mixed up the film Rush to Godfather by Coppola. “We mixed documentary and fiction, says Denis Lapière. It was a lot of research work, a titanic job!”

On this album, the great challenge will have been to return to the good old heroic days of 1960s comics, that of comic strips drawn on grain paper, with pencils, pens, brushes and ink. from China. Explanation by Vincent Dutreuil: “Why real boards on paper? The question is rather to wonder why I came to draw digitally! It had been six or seven years since I last touched a pencil on paper. For this album, I went back to it and I rediscovered the pleasure of working on an original page. The pleasure of handling paper, the tactile sensation, the grain of the paper… and the little fear that goes with it, if you miss your mark! If we are wrong, we cannot do “Ctrl + z”.»

As on the Fontenay-le-Comte circuit where you can hear the Vaillantes roar at every turn, a good album by Michel Vaillant would not be as powerful without the visual roar of the onomatopoeia that are embedded in certain boxes. In the garage where the Vaillantes are stored, on an improvised table, Dutreuil and Lapière have taken out the original plates of In the hell of Indianapolis. We (re)discover the graphic power of a “Vrooaw!”, of one “Roooaoooo” or a “Rooaap”! Dutreuil recognizes this: “Onomatopoeia constitute the soundtrack of a silent art such as the comic strip. Thanks to Jean Graton, who set up a kind of specific grammar, I was able to play with it and give great power to the racing cars which sometimes break the page as we believe them to be fast.

The Vincent Dutreuil-Denis Lapière tandem examines the original plates of their next album.

It is finally the turn of Lapière and Dutreuil to slip into the fine blue racing cars branded in the name of their hero which shave the asphalt. The apprehension gone, the two men happily accelerate on the straights and even on the bends, switching gears with a snap. After the race, as they get out of the cars, a satisfied smile lights up their faces. “You were right, Denis, admits Vincent Dutreuil, now, I understand better how the F 1 drive…” And Denis Lapière concludes with a shrug: “You are going to draw better certain passages, because you have really experienced the effects on the cars, from skidding to spinning!”

From yesterday to today, the transmission of experience, the family spirit, surpassing oneself and frank camaraderie: so many timeless values ​​that form the heart of the engine of the series Michael Vaillant.

Valiant Academy. Information: Vaillante-academie.fr. Contact: Thierry Place (thierry@vaillante-academie.fr).

This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.
This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.
This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.
This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.
This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.

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