MANY of the world’s most famous cartoon characters sprung from the drawing boards of French artists, with many as popular today as they were when first created.
Here US college student Samantha Decker, who is training to teach French in high schools, casts an eye over some of her favourites from the world of les bandes dessinées.
Comic books are much more mainstream in France than they are in the United States. Stateside, it’s considered a hobby. Across the pond, it’s just like picking up a book.
There are a number of different types of comic books for different age groups, but some have more credibility than others. Here’s a look at a few of my favourite French comic book series.
Astérix: Where to begin with Astérix? Firstly, one could argue that his series is the most educational since he is loosely based on the Gauls during the time of the Roman empire.
Though you’ll have to overlook the humour to actually learn anything from these.
His friend Obélix appears with him and also has his own comic book series. The series takes place during the Roman empire and characters are modelled after different cultures of the time.
A number of animated and live action films have been made based on the series, as well as an amusement park.
Star Academy: Star Academy is like American Idol in France, only better. The comic book series chronicles the lives of the finalists each season as they all live in a château together.
Of course, the series is fictional, but it’s a great way to cash in, combining a popular show with a popular pastime.
It’s amusing if you watch the show, otherwise, it’s quite confusing.
Iznogoud: Iznogoud is a humorous series about a grand vizier (second to the caliph) living in Baghdad many years ago.
All he wants to do is overthrow the caliph Haroun el Poussah, and he is, much to his chagrin, always unsuccessful.
Michael Youn starred in the live action adaptation of this series, which, aside from being quite humorous, also had an excellent soundtrack.
Titeuf: I first discovered Titeuf on a box of cookies I bought in France that were shaped like characters from the series.
I decided to buy a book and I was pleasantly surprised. Titeuf is a young boy who, in his comic books and hybrid comic-text novels, discovers the world around him, from a young child’s perspective.
His inaccurate observations are quite humorous. Titeuf has, like so many before him, jumped the TV series bandwagon so if reading alone doesn’t fill your desire, subscribe to French cable and toon in every day.
More… Les Monsieur Madame
The famous Mr Men and Miss cartoons in English have been translated into the popular Les Monsieur Madame series that tells the tales of a host of crazy characters from M.Sale to M.Grand, whilst you will also find Mme. Terreur and Mme. Bonheur.
Les Monsieur Madame can also be helpful when learning French as the language is simple enough to follow along, but also plays a few tricks and jokes ensuring you need to concentrate.
The tales of a cowboy, Lucky Luke, in the Wild West are still massively popular even though the first cartoon strip was drawn in the 1940s.
Lucky Luke is one of the most popular cartoon characters in Europe, and has been translated into many languages, and with around 80 albums to choose from you’ll never be spoilt for choice.
The one and only Noddy is also very popular in France, although he is called Oui-Oui here. But the famous Enid Blyton character still drives around in the his colourful car.
Il était une fois…
The Once Upon A Time… series of animations originally date from the late 1970s and told the tale of mankind. Their world wide popularity saw a series of cartoons produced over the years covering subjects such as space exploration and the future of plant earth.
Samantha Decker writes the website French Corner which offers advice on learning the language as well as vocabulary tips and all there is to know about verb conjugations and tenses.
Last Updated on 17 June, 2023.