Métal hurlant and (À suivre) : two magazines that have revolutionized the world of comics in their time, a transition period (1975-1997), made of upheaval, of questioning, of unprecedented societal changes.
More than 150 original drawings from both magazines are presented here, tracing their editorial and artistic epic. From an original idea by Michel-Édouard Leclerc and Jean-Baptiste Barbier, curator of the exhibition, we invite you to dive into the unique universe of a generation of authors, with the help of Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Benoît Peeters telling us these stories coming together.
The exhibition is punctuated by interviews, unreleased so far, of authors revealing us secrets about their drawings, layouts and graphics, their influences and their techniques, but also telling the story of these adventures and their commitments.
In the late 1960s, cartoonists needed to be heard, to express themselves. Witnessing the changes taking place in society, they were eager for freedom. What they longed for above all, was that comics got grown up in every sense of the word, and they claimed this status. According to them, it should be a medium intended to all, dealing with all kinds of topics. It is in this context that Métal hurlant, then (À suivre) stood out, supported by the dissident spirit of other magazines such as L’Écho des savanes.
Published from January 1975 to July 1987 (133 issues), Métal hurlant was brought to life by Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Philippe Druillet and Jean Giraud (aka Mœbius), later teamed up with Bernard Farkas for a couple of years. As for Étienne Robial, he is the starting point of all the graphic and visual identity of the magazine. He has also been called upon to carry out the visual identity of this exhibition and its catalogue.
All major cartoonists from the mid-1970s published within the pages of Métal hurlant, bringing comics to a new life. What characterized the magazine was its freedom of mind, its graphic design, chaos and innovation, the strong science-fiction and fantasy content. « Our small magazine changed the way we look at science-fiction » says Jean- Pierre Dionnet.
A new generation of graphic forms came up around Métal hurlant, with an only rule : « absolute freedom. »
« Métal hurlant [...] came about one of these rare moment where one has the feeling of a train setting out to an unthinkable journey » says François Schuiten.
Regarded as one of the « founding fathers » of Métal hurlant, Jean Giraud – who is known under the pseudonym of Mœbius since the early 1960s – is a great source of inspiration for writers who came afterwards in the magazine, and even more than this. A great traveller, reader, multiplying experiences, his cartoon style fills the image and calls out your eye. Capable of fully changing his style on a single plate, he renewed the vision of science-fiction by inventing a « future past », as Jean-Pierre Dionnet calls it.
Another emblematic figure of the magazine, Druillet broke the frame of the comics page, creating a disproportionate art, as seldom achieved. The viewer, hit by a new-scale image gets lost in the maze of details. Druillet was probably « the first designer to show the impossible [...], the only one to show the unshowable », says Jean-Pierre Dionnet. His grand and masterful adaptation of the novel Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert (1862) is one of his greatest successes.
rock / sci-fi
Rock coming about in the pages of Métal hurlant coincided with Philippe Manœuvre’s arrival in 1976. Having made his début in Rock & Folk, he will make up a successful duo with Jean-Pierre Dionnet in the editorial team until 1985.
A whole generation of « Rock comics » writers grew through contact with him : Frank Margerin (his character Lucien took off thanks to Philippe Manœuvre, who was among the firsts to notice him), Denis Sire, Dodo & Ben Radis, Serge Clerc, to name only a few.
A spirit of turmoil, emulation and avantgarde prevailed at Métal hurlant.
Nothing was too good for its founder members. To main stories succeeded texts, chronicles, short stories... Cartoonists such as Beb-deum, Eberoni, Nicollet or Gauckler alongside Montellier, Chaland or Gillon.« I think it is the first artistic movement that is similar to chaos [...], that is, organized chaos in spite of ourselves [...]. I decided that the magazine would be like an orchestra where all musics would possibly mix », says Jean-Pierre Dionnet.
The monthly (À suivre) was published by Casterman as soon as February 1978. As a starting point, the director of the Belgian publishing house – Didier Platteau – expressed the idea that Casterman could develop its own magazine and renew its readers. Hugo Pratt and Jacques Tardi were among the first authors to be part of the adventure starting in Paris. Jean-Paul Mougin will be the editor and Bernard Ciccolini its artistic director. As for Métal hurlant Étienne Robial created the original layout and set the basis of the graphic design of the magazine, which will almost reach its twenty years (239 issues).
The pathway between magazines like Métal hurlant and (À suivre) was the birth of the graphic novel. Initiated by the American cartoonist Will Eisner in 1978, through the circulation of his work A Contract with God, it consists in inserting for the first time literature into comics. As Jean-Paul Mougin wrote in his first editorial : « With all his novelistic density (À suivre) is a wild burst of comics into literature. »
narration / black & white
Clearly displayed right from the start, the two ambitions of (À suivre) appeared in its graphic style – the use of black and white – and the requirement of a narrative quality, with no limits on page numbers. And it is the birth of the series Ici Même by Tardi and Forest, the adventures of Corto Maltese by Pratt, those of Alack Sinner by Muñoz and Sampayo, Silence by Comès, Les Cités obscures by Schuiten and Peeters, etc. Other important writers contributing to the success of the magazine, were Philippe Paringaux, Jerome Charyn or Alexandro Jodorowsky.
turmoil / heritage
Following the example of Métal hurlant, (À suivre) will soon work as a think tank, allowing the emergence and coexistence of authors with very different styles, but all of them eager to follow a fictional line. Alternately humorous, whimsical, erotic, dark, committed, realistic or totally imaginary, their worlds were set side by side and influence one another in a new and creative spirit. Gradually competing with direct albums publications, both magazines will struggle to renew their readership, leaving room for new authors quite as talented as Zep, Blutch or Joann Sfar.