Gil Jourdan

Created by Maurice Tillieux (1921-78)

Don't let the kid stuff artwork fool you.

Gil Jourdan was a very popular, and surprisingly hard-boiled, series of Belgian graphic novels in the sixties and seventies relating the adventures of young ("I started very early") private eye GIL JOURDAN. They make for thrilling reads, full of witty dialogue, fast-paced P.I. action and, thanks to the creator's love of automobiles, some pretty spectacular car chases. Tillieux drew the adventures of his unflappable detective Gil Jourdan in a classic, seemingly harmless cartoony style.

Yet, at the same time, he was revolutionizing Belgian comics by doing serious, unflinching stories obviously intended for adult readers, pulling few punches. In fact, the first two albums were banned in France for depicting drug trafficking and ridiculing the ineffectiveness of the police to do anything about it.

Amazing Comics referred to artist/creator Tillieux as "the Howard Hawks of kiddie comics," although, given his love of cars, and his deftly wielded light touch, perhaps Stephen J. Cannell might have been more apt.

And make no mistake -- despite the occasional slapstick moment, Gil was no mere Tintin in a trenchcoat. He was a crafty investigator, a snappy dresser with a degree in criminology, a caustic sense of humour and a fierce loyalty to Libellule, his ex-con assistant, and Queue-de-Cerise (French for "Cherry Stem"), his fiercely loyal, motorbike-riding tomboy secretary. His police contact, and sometime-foil, is Inspector Crouton, a thirty year career cop, honest but not overly swift, who owed much of his professional success to Gil's brains and occasional helping hand. Nor did his adventures play out in a squeaky clean world -- Gil's world was one of dusty bars, unkempt homes and littered streets.

Tillieux often recycled old strips, right down to dialogue and artwork. An earlier detective character of his, news reporter Félix, was almost a carbon copy of Jourdan, who made his debut in the September 20, 1956 issue of Spirou (one of the most famous comic magazines in Europe, still existing today), and appeared on and off in various publications for the next twenty years or so. Right from the start, Tillieux managed to capture the essence of Cold War France in the fifties, thanks to his eye for detail and his very influential, and much imitated, semi-realistic drawing style. In 1969, after twelve Gil Jourdan albums, Tillieux abandoned graphic work, leaving other, lesser, writers and artists to continue the series. Gil made his last appearance in a Tintin Spécial in 1978, about the same time Tillieux was killed in an automobile accident.

HUH?

  • In the English translation, Gil's last name inexplicably loses a "u" to become "Jordan."

UNDER OATH

  • "Although she does wear trousers in their first adventure, this is more for convenience than anything else. In other stories, like "Surboum pour 4 roues", she is shown wearing a dress and other feminine attire. On the other hand she have a passion for two-wheelers: in one adventure she drives a scooter, in another an actual motorbike."

-- Marc Treuthardt

ALBUMS

  • Libuelle s'évade (1959)
  • Popaï et vieux tableaux (1959)
  • La Voiture immergée (1959)
  • Les Cargos du crépuscule (1961)
  • L'Enfer de Xique-Xique (1962)
  • Surboum pour 4 roues (1963)
  • Les Moines rouges (1964)
  • Les 3 taches (1965)
  • Le Gant à 3 doigts (1966)
  • Le Chinois à deux roues (1967)
  • Chaud et froid (1969)
  • Pâtée explosive (1971)
  • Carats en vrac (1971)
  • Gil Jourdan et les fantômes (1972)
  • Sur la piste d'un 33 tours (1973)
  • Entre deux eaux (1979)

COLLECTIONS

  • TOUT GIL JOURDAN #1: PREMIERES AVENTURES (1985, Dupuis)
  • La pousuite
  • Libeulle s'évade (1959)
  • Popaine et vieux tableaux
  • La voiture immergée (1960)
  • Les vacances de Crouton (previously unpublished).

  • TOUT GIL JOURDAN #2 : ENQUETES FRANCAISES (Dupuis)
  • Les cargos du crépuscule
  • Surboum pour 4 roues
  • Les moines rouges (1964)
  • Les momies de Saint-Sulpice (previously unpublished)

  • TOUT GIL JOURDAN #3: AVENTURES EXOTIQUES (Dupuis)
  • L'enfer de Xique-Xique
  • Le gant à trois doigts
  • Le Chinois à deux roues
  • L'armée évanouie (previously unpublished)

  • TOUT GIL JOURDAN #4: DIX AVENTURES (Dupuis)
  • Chaud et froid
  • Le grand souffle
  • La maison du mystere
  • Pâtée explosive
  • La guerre en calecon
  • La bouteille
  • Entre deux eaux
  • L'homme au pull blanc
  • Coup d'éclat
  • Les santons
  • Bob Slide et autres histoires morales (previously unpublished)

  • TOUT GIL JOURDAN #5: DUO POUR UN HÉROS (Dupuis)
  • Carats en vrac
  • Gil Jourdan et les fantomes
  • Sur la piste d'un 33 tours

Plus two unpublished stories

  • TOUT GIL JOURDAN #6 : TROIS DéTECTIVES (1987, Dupuis)
  • Lestrois taches
  • La rue perdues (1978, Tintin Spécial)

ENGLISH COLLECTIONS

Tin-Tinned out yet? Here's the real deal. Includes two complete stories, "Murder by High Tide" (La Voiture immergée) and "Leap of Faith" (Les Cargos du crépuscule)."

  • TEN THOUSAND YEARS IN HELL (2017; Fantagraphics)....Buy this book

Includes two complete stories, "Ten Thousand Years in Hell" (L'Enfer de Xique-Xique) and "Boom or Bust."

RELATED LINKS

Our preliminary list of French eyes.

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Merci à Mark Treuthardt for his comments.


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