The ingenious animal created by Franquin turns 70 this year. Batem, which has kept it alive for 35 years, is at the Salon du livre for meetings and signings. Interview.
His pseudonym he owes to Walthéry, the creator of Natacha. But his character he inherited from André Franquin. Batem has signed on to the Marsupilami adventures for 35 years after Gaston Lagaffe’s father entrusted him with the fate of his fabulous animal.
The real name Luc Collin, the Belgian cartoonist who is currently at the Salon du livre en Ville in Geneva, explains the choice of his nickname. “There is an old tradition in the Belgian Ardennes that when two people with the same first name are in a group, the youngest is called ‘baptism’, not to be confused. The older Luc, who called me, had learned this tradition from Walthéry, so it’s a bit because of him that I signed on Batem ”.
But when he took over Marsupilami in 1987, his name was not known at all. As a 27-year-old, he works in a studio specializing in audiovisual adaptation and merchandising of comics. He has therefore already outlined the amazing animal for this kind of production. “One day Jean-François Moyersoen contacted me. He comes to my house and explains to me that he bought the rights to the Marsupilami from Franquin, by agreement of the latter, and that he wants him to have his own series. Drawn by me! I had certainly already met Franquin, who had even suggested that I draw Lagaffe to illustrate a competition, but I could not believe what I was told. I fled to the kitchen, came back after a while and said yes ”.
“Franquin is my own Mbappé”
It was an incredible turning point in Batem’s life. “I often fought before, came from nowhere, and there I was offered to take over a character from my idol. When children do not understand the admiration I have for Franquin, I explain to them, if they are football fans, that it was as if Mbappé not only met them but asked them to come and play on his team. . Franquin is my own Mbappé.
Batem will not have much time to doubt: he will only have three months to draw his first album “La queue du Marsupilami”, based on a script by Greg. “It gave me the opportunity to go to Franquin often, and my happiness, even today, is to have seen him, the one who could be tormented, get better and better over our meetings. Because he did what he loved to do: teach a young man. He drew greedily because what he drew was only for me, to show me how Marsupilamia moves, walks, laughs ”.
35 years later, Batem has drawn 33 volumes of the adventure of the ingenious beast and always made sure to respect Franquin’s spirit. “There was the period when the Marsu came out of his jungle with the characters Rémi and Collin, replacing Spirou and Fantasio. It was the publisher’s will, but it was a mistake. I brought the animal back to the heart of Palombia. Especially when the jungle is a gold mine to draw, it is constantly renewed.
Still a fascinating character
Franquin had asked him to stop Marsupilami the day he would have had enough, “But I do not have time to bother myself, I immerse myself every time in this universe with joy, and I do not forget that I live an adventure by having the chance to bring this character to life. Younger people do not always know that it was not me who created Marsupilami. In return, I have seen readers of a certain age pass in front of my signing stand, hesitate and then say: no , it can not be Franquin.There was also a child who did not know comics but who wanted a drawing.I asked him which, he looked a little at the album and said to me, the yellow man who with the stains.Even without knowing it, Marsupilami fascinates at first sight ”.
In 2014, Dupuis bought the rights to Marsupilami, which may therefore reappear in Spirou’s adventure. “I could have feared it, but I think the publisher is not going to abuse it and that he wants to distinguish between the two series.” And by the way, what does Batem think about the controversial revival of another Franquin hero, Gaston Lagaffe? “You will understand that I can hardly comment on the question. But I remember Franquin asked me to draw Gaston. It was obviously not to resume the series, so it was very different ”.
For the 70th anniversary of Marsupilami, a volume from the collection “A life in drawings” was dedicated to Batem and the character was released in January, a magnificent work in which we learn a lot about this work. As for the 34th volume of the series, it was to be released in 2023, still written by Colman, just like the last 14. Its working title is “Adios Amigo!” batem, ham dedication Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Ibis Hotel dedicated to comics in Carouge. He will also hold a conference there followed by a pancake party on Sunday at. 11:30 (unfortunately it is already full): “I must, I think, draw the Marsupilami in pancake, I have no idea what it will give”.
Besides Batem, many writers dedicate until Sunday 22 May at the Ibis Hotel in Carouge (Route De Saint-Julien), including Albertine, Bertschy, Barrigue, Daniel Koller and Kalonji. The hotel also offers Cartoon nap. Lying on the bed in one of the bedrooms, we watch a movie in the attic showing an author (Frederick Peeters, Albertine and Exem) making a drawing. There is also a workshop on How to draw Ramuz in comics with three authors who have done it: Fabian Menor, Quentin Panchard and Nicolas Sjosjetd.