BD: Dufaux tries to impose his mark on Blake and Mortimer

In “Le cri du Moloch”, a sequel to “L’onde Septimus”, Olrik certainly plays a central role, but it is nothing compared to what the great Belgian screenwriter would have really wanted. Explanations.

Seven years ago, screenwriter Jean Dufaux offered a direct sequel to one of Edgar P. Jacobs’ most famous albums, “The Yellow Mark”. In “The Septimus Wave”, we learned that an alien vessel buried under London seemed to want to take advantage of the Mega wave invented by Professor Septimus to reactivate. Olrik, a former guinea pig of Septimus, paid with his person (and his reason) to destroy the threat. But the last few boxes suggested that the danger was not completely over.

This is confirmed in “Le cri du Moloch”, which picks up the story where we left off, with Olrik interned in an asylum, his mind completely lost. The alien spaceship was not the only one to bide its time on Earth, as Mortimer will discover, who associates out of scientific curiosity with an opponent of Blake in the previous volume, Professor Scaramian. But playing with fire, we burn ourselves and the Moloch will free itself from its chains, threatening the entire planet. Unless Olrik …

A very cinematic story

The designer Antoine Aubin has given way to Christian Cailleaux and Étienne Schréder (the latter having already participated in “L’onde Septimus”). If the faces sometimes float from one box to another (as is the case in many “Blake and Mortimer”, even those of Jacobs), we quickly forget that, taken by a very cinematographic story, more stripped, while remaining in the tradition of “La maque jaune” and notably retaining its astonishing palette of colors. The homage to the legendary Jacobs album is obvious and this was Jean Dufaux’s primary goal, as he explains to us.

“After decades of writing album scripts, I wanted to pay tribute to the comics that marked my childhood, primarily those of Jacobs. I thought “The Yellow Mark” was an album strong enough to be a matrix giving birth to sequels. I also really wanted to develop the character of Guinea Pig ”(Olrik’s nickname under the influence of Septimus). “People are more and more passionate about the personality of the villains, as we have seen with the Joker who overshadows Batman.”

If there is one constant in Dufaux’s work, it is the complexity of his characters, never quite wicked or kind. His series “The Lament of the Lost Landes”, launched with Rosinski, had for mantra, “Love is at the heart of evil”. We find this in his albums of Blake and Mortimer, Scaramian, Lady Rowana and of course Olrik being able to pass from the role of enemies to that of allies. “Certainly, but I would have liked to go much further, to really impose my mark, to put myself in it.”

Olrik’s youth denied

Thus, Dufaux tells us that his story should have been quite different. “The first box was to show Olrik at his father’s funeral, then I was talking about his youth, but Jacobs’ publisher and heirs refused. Writing these two “Blake and Mortimer” was therefore a real struggle. I also wanted to bring Sheikh Abdel Razek from the “Mystery of the Great Pyramid” to London, in order to psychoanalyze Olrik, who was also refused. I make Queen Elizabeth II appear for the first time, but first I was told no, I had to struggle. It was the first time in my career that I took over an existing comic book hero, it taught me a lot about the complexity of the thing. It is edifying, moreover, to see that Jacobs did not make a fortune with his albums but that the recovery of his heroes after his death has turned into an incredible editorial machine.

Jean Dufaux had to insist on including Queen Elizabeth II in the album.

© Éditions Blake & Mortimer / Studio Jacobs (Dargaud-Lombard sa), 2020

Despite these serious constraints, Dufaux was therefore keen to go through with his homage to Jacobs, helped by the good collaboration with the designers, “by putting my teenage emotions in it, like the” Flying saucers “(flying saucers) that we saw in the comics. The main thing is to remain sincere in your writing ”. This “Cri du Moloch” has moreover become a vibrant tribute to writing, Dufaux’s profession: there are these signs traced all over London and this conclusion by Mortimer: “Take away the writing, nothing remains. your ambitions, your stay on this Earth… ”. “The queen, moreover, does not thank Blake by giving him a medal, but a book…”, smiles Dufaux.

“I am the dunce of the class”

Has Dufaux finished with Blake and Mortimer? “There would be more to say, to do, especially on the role of women, who pass and only pass in albums. This would disrupt the codes of the series. There were sketches, that’s all. But no, me, I’m the dunce of the class among those who have taken over Blake and Mortimer, nothing will be asked of me. But it has been an interesting page in my career, which has taught me a lot about author-publisher relations and which I will discuss at greater length when writing my memoirs ”.

Jean Dufaux could not create the Blake and Mortimer of which he dreamed, as Schuiten had the right to do with “The last pharaoh”. But he need not be ashamed: this “cry of the Moloch” concludes what is not only a beautiful tribute to Jacobs, but a tale the reader should enjoy reading. Which is not that obvious!

“The adventures of Blake and Mortimer: the cry of Moloch”, Tome 27, by Jean Dufaux, Christian Cailleaux and Étienne Schréder, Éd. Blake and Mortimer, 56 pages, released November 20.

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