the roaring return of Michel Vaillant

This summer, Le Figaro Magazine fully pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis. The two authors, Denis Lapière and Vincent Dutreuil, put themselves in the shoes of the famous racing driver on the circuit of Vaillante Académie, in Fontenay-le-Comte, in the Vendée…

The sun has just risen on the private racetrack of Fontenay-le-Comte, giving a fuchsia pink color to the crowded sky. It rained all night, but the clouds no longer threaten the track. The weather has turned beautiful. The day will likely hold surprises.

At the Vaillante Académie, Thierry Place welcomes new interns. We are quite impressed to discover “in real life” the race cars that Jean Graton has designed in his albums. “It’s true, it always has a funny effect to discover Michel Vaillant’s blue single-seaters, smiled the master of the place. The “design” conceived for the album Honor of the Samurai has been faithfully reproduced on these 150 hp engine racing vehicles! These cars are produced exclusively by one of the oldest Irish manufacturers, the Crosslé Car Company, born in 1957, which is… the birth year of Michel Vaillant!”

Fearless Paper Pilot

Michael Valiant! Just saying his name captures the imagination of motorsport fans. And the comics begin to hum with pleasure. This fearless paper pilot appeared in Tintin’s journal has become for sixty-five years “more than a hero, a true friend, strong, loyal and courageous”.

This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publish In the hell of Indianapolis by Denis Lapière and Vincent Dutreuil, Michel Vaillant’s next adventure set during the 1966 Indianapolis 500. To experience even more intensely the exploits of Jean Graton’s mechanical knight, Jean-Louis Dauger, brand director and of the development of Michel Vaillant presents you with a new experience: transform yourself into a car racer and get behind the wheel of a vintage Vaillante from the 60s to fire up an engine waiting for it. The chance is too good!

Michael Valiant. Editions Dupuis-GRAPH © Expression

“The goal of the Vaillante Académie, a flying school born in July 2020 and whose first session took place on May 16, 2021, is very simple, says Thierry Place. We move anyone who wants it from virtual to real!” Fans are really projected into the comic book world. They start by donning the boots, the fireproof suit in the colors of the Vaillante team, as well as the helmet and gloves.

From reality to fiction

Once the metamorphosis is complete, we’ll take some driving lessons and get started! “Note, there is no chronometric sanction, I refuse to do this, warns Thierry Place. Comic book enthusiasts out there can immerse themselves in the world of racing in peace and realize a childhood dream with a touch of nostalgia on the track. So far, our oldest intern is 82 years old. He just came from Belgium to have fun sharing his passion for his favorite childhood comics. Three instructors and two mechanics are there to give all the necessary advice. But the most important thing is the opportunity to return to the Formula 1 cars of the 60s. That to me is the soul of driving.”

On the circuit of Fontenay-le-Comte, that day, the two authors of the next Michael Vaillant. Screenwriter Denis Lapière and designer Vincent Dutreuil each donned a white, blue and red jumpsuit, ready to race around the track with their engines running.

The challenge of the new “Legends” collection is to give car racing a different perspective

Denis Lapière, screenwriter

“What Jean-Louis Dauger and Thierry Place are doing is amazing, summarizes the screenwriter with a passion for car racing. These two bring reality into fiction. With Vincent Dutreuil we did the exact opposite for the new collection Michael Valiant. Legends : we have made fiction reality!”

It is true that by reinstalling Michel Vaillant – and his inseparable adventure companion Steve Warson – in the heart of the 1966 Indianapolis 500, the Lapière-Dutreuil tandem plunges back into the blessed period of F1. “It was the time when Steve McQueen drove the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as did Paul Newman or Jean-Louis Trintignant, Lapiere recalls. The cars did not yet have on-board computing. It was raw, like we’re going to do here. Quite honestly, we argued a lot before we found the right line, design, layout, rhythm and tone that we wanted to bring to this new vintage series. The challenge of the new collection legends, it is to bring a different perspective to motorsport. Here we tell you about Indianapolis’ famous 1966 500 miles, as we inject Michel and Steve as privileged witnesses!

What is so special about this American competition? “It’s a crazy race, the authors respond in unison. In 1966, a third of the cars involved crashed. This massive buildup eliminated 11 of the 33 vehicles. But mostly by winning Indianapolis, Graham Hill won the grail of all racers: the triple crown, the “hat trick.” That means successively the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indianapolis 500 in IndyCar and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. An achievement of which he is the sole holder to date.

Back to the origin

Using the charm of the sixties, Lapière and Dutreuil mix in the album a different plot than that of the race: at the beginning of the adventure, Vaillant and Warson rescue a young girl (who looks furiously like Françoise Hardy) from the claws of a tire bad boy mafia. The album progresses a bit like we got the movie mixed up Rush until Godfather by Coppola. “We mixed documentary and fiction, says Denis Lapiere. It was a lot of research work, a titanic job!”

On this album the great challenge will have been to return to the good old heroic days of the 60’s comics, those of comics drawn on grain paper, with pencils, pens, brushes and ink from China. Commentary by Vincent Dutreuil: “Why real plates on paper? The question is rather to ask yourself why I started drawing digitally! It had been six or seven years since I last touched a pencil to paper. For this album I went back to it and rediscovered the joy of working on an original page. The pleasure of handling paper, the tactile sensation, the grain of the paper… and the little fear that comes with it, if you miss your line! If we’re wrong, we can’t do “Ctrl + z”.»

Just like on the Fontenay-le-Comte circuit, where you can hear the Vaillantes roar at every turn, a good Michel Vaillant album wouldn’t be quite as powerful without the visual roar of the onomatopoeia embedded in certain boxes. In the garage where the Vaillantes are stored, on a makeshift table, Dutreuil and Lapière have the original plates of In the hell of Indianapolis. We (re)discover the graphical power of a “Early!”, of a “Roooooooo” or a “Cry”! Dutreuil recognizes this: “Onomatopoeia is the soundtrack to a silent art like the comic strip. Thanks to Jean Graton, who set up a kind of specific grammar, I was able to play with it and give great power to the race cars that sometimes break the page because we think they are fast.

The tandem Vincent Dutreuil-Denis Lapière examines the original records of their next album.

It’s finally Lapière and Dutreuil’s turn to slip into the fine blue race cars branded in their hero’s name and skim the tarmac. The fear was gone, the two men accelerate happily on the straights and even in the corners, shifting gears in an instant. After the race, when they get out of the cars, a happy smile appears on their faces. “You were right, Dennis, admits Vincent Dutreuil, now I understand better how the F1 drives…” And Denis Lapière concludes with a shrug: “You’ll get better at drawing certain passages because you’ve really experienced the effects on the cars, from skidding to spinning!”

From yesterday to today, the transmission of experience, the family spirit, surpassing oneself and genuine camaraderie: so many timeless values ​​that are at the heart of the motor of the series Michael Vaillant.

brave Academy. Information: Vaillante-academie.fr. Contact person: Thierry Place (thierry@vaillante-academie.fr).

This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.
This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.
This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.
This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.
This summer, Le Figaro Magazine pre-publishes the new adventure (to be published in September) of the comic book hero created in 1957 by Jean Graton: In the hell of Indianapolis.

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