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.
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.
Part I HERE
The comic strips can be followed HERE