Friday, August 19, 2011

Les Pionniers de L'esperance II

Les Pionniers de L'esperance (The Pioneers of Hope) began on 14 Dec 1945 in Vaillant and ended in September 1973 in Pif Gadget. Every reference I have found credits the ‘creation’ to Roger Lécureux and Raymond Poïvet. After a close reading of the strip from Le Petit Journal, where it began 21 December 1947 and ran until 1953, I’m convinced that this is all wrong.

[R. Poirret]

The first strip had no credits but the second said on the banner “Dessins de R. Poirret sur un scenario de R. Lécureux.” ‘Poirret’ could be a misspelling of Poïvet but studying the artwork leads to another possible conclusion; these were two different cartoonists. Poirret’s name appears in the banner for 2 years but the strips are not signed until 1951, when, for a short period the strip is taken over by artist Lucien Nortier. Raymond Poïvet takes over from Nortier on 11 February 1951, putting his signature directly on the strips. Soon after that the banner was returned to the top with credit going to Roger Lécureux and Raymond Poïvet.

The reason I think R. Poirret and Raymond Poïvet may be different artists is because of the art itself. Poirret was a great stylist from the start, with a style based not so much on Alex Raymond’s work as it was on Austin Brigg’s style (Austin Briggs became Raymond’s assistant on Flash Gordon in 1940.) Poïvet’s first signed strip showed an artist struggling clumsily to find a style, borrowing elements from Alex Raymond, R. Poirret, L. Nortier and Hal Foster’s Tarzan. He was competent but the work was not even as good as Nortier’s in the beginning. For at least 5 months the wonderful work of Poirret is replaced by a serial squashed into 12 square panels which is signed Raymond Poïvet . Eventually Poïvet’s style and anatomical knowledge improved, although it was based more on Raymond than Briggs, and he began opening up the possibilities with the use of larger panels. By July 1951 his work was as good as Poirret’s.

It is Poïvet who is remembered today, and with good reason, by the end of the comics run he had developed into a fine illustrator and was producing lovely pages in the Flash Gordon style. I think it is Roger Lécureux and R. Poirret (whoever he was) who deserve the credit for originating Les Pionniers de L'esperance.

[R. Poirett]

[Raymond Poïvet]


The comic strips can be followed HERE


  1. In my opinion you're right on the money. Poirret certainly had a more thoroughly-developed style than Poivet. Given the similarity of the names, and Poivet's long association with the strip, it's not hard to believe that some early historian mistakenly conflated the two and his error was repeated by later writers.

  2. Poïvet's fully developed style was wonderful and its probably those years that are remembered by most older readers.

  3. First, thanks for this good blog, second, I’ll try to put all this in a proper English, but, as I’m not use to, so, sorry for all the unenglishness.

    I’m not at all convinced by your theory about R. Poirret being a different artist than R. Poïvet. Your demonstration is brilliant and I was seduce at first. But, there are no traces of a R. Poirret, and all sources that I checked gave Raymond Poïvet as unique artist on the serie (some French websites and mainly three different ‘encyclopédie de la bande dessinée’ – French edition).
    ‘Le dictionnaire mondial de la Bande Dessinée’, Patrick Gaumer, Larousse, 1998, gave this information: Poïvet had a studio in witch he teach lessons ‘l’atelier 63 aka le Studio Trèfle’ (clover) who seems to have been in activities around 1948. Some of the ‘studients’ were : Uderzo, Forest, Mandryka, Druillet, Gigi (Gigi being the only name that I could double check).
    Poïvet was working for numerous publications in the 40’s and the 50’s and my guess is he could have use help to match the deadlines.
    Anyway, it’s just another theory…

    It appears that the idea of ‘les Pionniers de l’Espérance’ was gave to the publisher by Alexandre Ananoff, who helped Hergé for is trip to the Moon.

  4. Thanks for another view and for some further excellent information. You may be right. Possibly Poïvet was the illustrator from the beginning and the wide variation in style which is obvious was due to a number of ghost help on the strip. I have to wonder (my French is not that fluent)if Poïvet and Poirret have the same pronunciation.

  5. For the firsts syllabes, yes, even if the dierese on Poïvet is tricky because you could use it or not, that depends of the family habits. But, most people would pronunce Poïvet = Poivet.
    if you french is enough for reading, I can send you scans of Poïvet entry in Larousse's Dictionnaire mondiale de la Bande dessinée.

  6. Thanks, I would very much like you to send the Larousse entry on Poïvet. I can read French quite well but speaking the language is a different kettle of fish. My email is on the right undeer 'About Me.' I have added a link to the bottom of this post to Le Petit Journal for anyone who would like to investigate the early years of this great comic on their own.