Do You Speak French? What Does it All Mean?!

My beloved aunt recently returned from abroad. Hearing word of her arrival, I hailed a gypsy cab and hastened to the docks. It was there that she rewarded me with a new hat of waxed cotton and a stack of Belgian comics.

Among them were two of Hergé’s Tintin books: De Avonturen Van Kuifje: Maannen op de Maan (Tintin: Explorers on the Moon) and an English edition of Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls. Always thrilled to add to the Tintin collection (which I’ve been reading since I was about 11 or 12).  

But there was also Willy Vandersteen’s Bob et Bobbette: Le Fantasque Fantastique. I’m completely unfamiliar with the author or series (of which 287 titles are listed on the back).

And it’s all in French.

So, if any of you know any French, please let me know a little bit more about what’s happening here on the very first page. Because I’d like to understand tonight’s nightmares as best I can:

For a much larger image, click here.

UPDATED: Now that we know a little more about the first page thanks to Gobo, let’s take a look at the last four. Yes, that’s a lion:


Page W

Page X
Page Y

Page Z

Thanks! And what about you? Do you have any comics in languages other than English? Any favorite international titles to recommend?  Let us know!


  1. Panel 1: Where are we going Lambique?

    Panel 2: We’re going somewhere that has a link to what I have in my hand. 

    What is it a beet on a stick?

    Panel 3: Look under the scarf

    You’re piqued my curiosity

    Panel 4: EEEEEEK!

    Panel 5: BILLIONS!

    Panel 6: You broke my eardrums!

    It’s your fault! I’m allergic to bones!

    Ugh, my brain is scrambled

    Panel 7: I insist Lambique tell us what the deal is with that skull!

    Me too!

    Panel 8: My friends, you are looking at Hippolyte Lambique, my great-uncle

    Panel 9: Barabas found this skull on an archaeological dig around Black Mountain near Kalmatout

    Panel 10: DNA analysis proved it was one of my ancestors


  2. Phew, thank goodness I was first, I’d hate to have done all that and had someone else beat me to it

  3. I had some french comics as a kid, both Tintin and Asterix and Obelix.  I really should look into the BD scene here in Montreal more, but my french isn’t as good as it used to be and I’m a little apprehensive.

  4. I would furthermore like to commission a "Re-letter this page" contest with a prize for the funniest entry, the prize being my appreciation.

  5. Three semesters of French in college and can’t remember a damn thing.  Shame, really.

    This looks really cool.

    Thanks for the translation, gobo. 

  6. I once had an Italian language Spider-MAn comic. It was titled: L’Uomo Ragno. It’s since been lost in time, but it was a fun thing. It was 80s Marvel Graphic Novel size (Squarish and about 2x the size of a normal comic) but with newsprint pages. I imagine it was form the 70s or 80s. It was bright yellow and I think the interoir was a Vulture story and a generic "criminal" story. That’s all I ever got out of it.

  7. I’m guessing Milliards might be the name of the woman in the front, that or it’s some French from France slang, technically it means billions though.

  8. I picked up two volumes of Diabolik while I was studying in Italy. No idea what they say, but I always had a soft-spot for the so-bad-it’s-good Danger: Diabolik! film by Mario Bava.

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Thanks, Gobo!  

    I might post another page or two tomorrow. The story gets even weirder from the looks of it.   

  10. Good!  i need to know what happens

  11. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Wait, "IIIIIII!" translates to "EEEEEEK" or were you taking liberties?  😉

  12. It’s your fault, I’m allergic to bones!  Is a great line, no matter the language. 

  13. @Paul I was taking liberties, it was just *generic shriek*

  14. Someone my father knew gave him a giant box full of Danish Donald Duck comics.  Knowing that I like comics, he immediately gave them to me.  I have no clue what to do with them.  So, they’re currently resting in a closet in my parents’ house.  Anyone speak Danish?

    Oh, and Paul, I love me some TINTIN.  I found them during college in those three-in-one digest books and even with the shrunken art, loved them.

  15. Tintin and Asterix et Obelix are probably as reponsible as anything the education system did for my french reading skills.  For those who don’t know Asterix and Obelix, the only question you need to ask yourself is:"How do I feel about Gerard Depardieu?"

  16. 2 really awesome french BDs(graphic novels): LE COMPLEXE DU CHIMPANZÉ and LES MONDES D’ALDÉBARAN.

  17. Oh, that’s right! I also had a Russian version of Ultimate X-Men #7 from when I interviewed at Marvel. I’ve since given it away. It was… about what you’d expect.

  18. PAGE W

    Panel 1: AIE! He doesn’t seem impressed

    Panel 2: Back monster! If you want to take Sarah, you’ll have to deal with us!

    Monster? Me? And to think I’ve been a tame cat all these years

    Panel 3: That didn’t make him laugh!

    You think so?

    Panel 4: We don’t have time! Poor Sarah!

    Panel 6: NO! SARAH! NO! Poor little one

    Panel 7: I can’t look! She’s a goner!

    Panel 8: Wait… wait… incredible!

    Panel 9: Sarah!  Good god! Barabas, how is this possible?

    Panel 10: This confirms my suspicions, your girl has some exceptional talents, Victor

  19. PAGE X

    Panel 1: What talents Barabas? Can you also see these angels?

    In effect, Sarah can call them.  She also has visions she can reproduce in her drawings

    Panel 2: Look! The angels are disappearing in the sky!


    Panel 3: Jerome back just in time! Met circus on the road!

    Panel 4: Look for lion. Bring Back. No problem, they said. Gentle like a lamb.

    Bye gentle kitten!

    Panel 5:  Despite my best efforts I don’t see any visions Barabas

    Do you have a lightbox?

    Panel 6: Yes, right here, why?

    I want to try something. If I superimpose the pictures…

    Panel 7: Good blood!

    Panel 8: Jewish prisoners from WW 2!

    Panel 9: World War 2? What do you mean? Why were my people prisoner?

    How many times have you traveled to the future?

    Panel 10: It was the first time. I took a chance, I was looking for medicine for Sarah. I landed in 2005. 


  20. PAGE Y

    Panel 1: Should I tell him? Do I have the right? Should I not interfere in his life? Screw it, I’ll tell him

    Panel 2: The professor told Bernsohn about how the took over Europe during World War 2 and killed 6 million jews, political prisoners, gypsies and homosexuals.

    Panel 3:  Is that what waits for us?  That’s terrible! Sarah might see this? Poor child

    Panel 4: There’s a positive side to all this, Victor. Your daughter isn’t mentally ill.

    Panel 5: She’s gifted with paranormal abilities. She can see the future and invoke angels. She’s a very unique little girl

    Panel 6: Heu, can I see the time machine Victor?

    Panel 7: Superb device, but what is your secret Victor?

    Panel 8: Secret? Haha! In 24 hours the earth turns on its own axis. If you travel quickly in the opposite direction you go into the past, and the reverse into the future

    Panel 9: Childlike, in effect. But Genius! You’re a whimsical fantastic, Victor!

    Panel 10: The time to say goodbye has arrived. Barabas found an explanation  of Para-Energy and Hippolyte Lambique has been saved from the dungeon of Black Mountain

    Panel 11: My friends, thank you for everything. Save travels! But how will you get back? 

    That’s up to me, it’s true. Theophile is waiting for me to bring back a diamond ring!

    Panel 12: Victor, don’t you have… bzz… bzz… bzz…

  21. PAGE Z

    Panel 1: 3, 4, 5, 6. Yes! That’s everyone!

    Panel 2: Thanks for bringing us back Theophile, here’s your reward

    A Diamond ring! I am very happy!

    Panel 3: Oh! The setting opens like an ancient snuffbox!

    Panel 4:  *sneezes*

    Panel 5: It’s a prank from Sarah, the ring is full of sneezing powder!

    *more sneezing*

    Panel 7: What are you making Lambique?

    Panel 8: An improved family tree! I sawed off the branch of Hippolyte

    Panel 9: Where’s the professor, aunt?

    He’s looking for some information about Kalmthout

    Panel 10: Just before World War 1, Bernsohn left Black Mountain.  He took my advice, very good.

    Panel 11: END

  22. What the hell…

  23. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    So, time travel, the Holocaust, circus lions, a girl who can summon angels?  

    And there’s at least 286 more of these?! 

  24. But at least the girl isn’t mentally ill!

  25. I really want to know how they got to the past, what happened in the dungeon, why Lambique is cutting off Hippolyte’s branch and how the lion came into the picture.

  26. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Some other Bob et Bobbette adventure titles listed on the back:  

    "Big Mother"

    "Le Pyro-Man au piquet"

    "Le Viking impetueux" 


    "Tex et Terry" 

    "Le monstre du Loch Ness" 

    "S.O.S. Rhinoceros" 

  27. I think I may have a new favourite comic series.

  28. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Well, it looks like they went to a laboratory where they sat in on a lecture and then went to the past via the machine from the last page. The lion escaped from a traveling circus cart. You don’t want to know what happened in the dungeon.

    There is also a man dressed as a ghost and a woman engaging in a suspension ritual (a horse gets involved).  

  29. If only this was in German….and this was posted 5 years ago 🙂

  30. You asked for it, so I’ll gush:

    *spoilers of the recommendations included*

    A Tintin article would be nice. I read just a few but they seem too short and that they don’t use their potential. I could look for a review, but…you know.

    As for good "international" comics (international is a bullshit title in almost every place it appears – how can it be international if it’s only in one language and sold only in one country? The same with theme parks and comics conventions)

    Tex the lonesome rider – this is a very clean black and white kiddie-friendly version of a western – I read the one in English by Joe Kubert, and there are some in Hebrew that I couldn’t get. It was very kid-friendly which I didn’t like but maybe kids you know might like it. It’s published in Italy and I really want to read the issues – I think it’s monthly. I think I might enjoy this in a monthly basis but I need several issues to be sure to see what format they choose, and it’s not as kid-friendly as the Joe Kubert one etc.

    Super Shlumper – a book mocking superheroes and the main character is a Superman style character that came to Israel and was discovered by the IDF, and smuggled by the finder to a superhero nearby – it’s a world with a JLA type of league with heroes from all over the world – a UN of superheroes. It’s in Hebrew obviously, and the character has three books and appearences from time to time in Zbeng! Magazine – a short comics strips magazine aimed at kids.
    It offers great comments on life – they’re usually one page long but there are several longer stories. There’s one comic on an alien invasion that turns out to be an educational camp and the aliens are small kids. There’s also a time where Shlumper gets a distress call that is so severe he’s afraid of what’s going on, so he flies through space only to arrive to planet earth. There’s also one comics about two isralites that have been frozen in time and they wake up, are considered a threat – the IDF thinks they infiltrated Israel, and Shlumper also goes there and tells the IDF he’ll handle the matter.
    It turns out they were part of the great migration with Moses towards the land of milk and honey, and they are so excited that Shlumper puts them in his cape and flies them to that land as he promised. We later learn that he flew them to a different planet altogether – a desert planet where they can search for the land of milk and honey all their life, and Shlumer promises the reader that as soon as Israel is that land that he’ll fly back and bring them to it. A comment about how fucked up Israel and the surrounding areas are.
    The creator is Uri Fink – a famous and prolific local creator who got some of his work translated to different languages.

    I didn’t read the third book but I read that it’s not just Shlumper and that there are other comics in that book. The second one isn’t as good as the first but is worth checking out. The first is brilliant and has great coloring and very good lettering and use of motion lines etc. Seek that out just for the coloring, but be warned that the book deteriorates in quality as Shlumper advances towards his space adventures – it’s build "start" "Earth adventures" "space adventures" – after realizing his help is needed in space as well. It’s a natural progression of the character.

    Asterix and Obelix are nice but they’re not exactly "foreign" because they get translated to Hebrew and English. It’s a humor book mainly.

    Who’s There?! – a short issue-sized comicbook about the writer’s grandparents. He released a "sequel" that looks really good from the photos they released but I still didn’t buy it/read it.

    Falafelman – A humorous superhero – a fat red-haired security guard who lives with a very smart skinny geek who works for the Mosad or Shabac – can’t remember, turns into Falafelman because he enters one of the geek’s machines because a falafel ball rolled into it, and is shut there by a monkey with a blender-hand (if I remember correctly) that he annoyed – another one of the geek’s experiments. He can shoot oil-soaked falafel balls from his hands and I think he has some other abilities – there’s the usual becoming strong, faster I think etc.
    They get a car from the Mosad or Shabac and search for crime. There are three issues, but I only read the two – I intend to read the third.
    The second one is awful and simplistic where antisemitism is incarnated in a monster Falafelman has to fight – the monster is led by Ahmadinejad – very crude and reminiscent of Dani Din books.

    Thoughts of Darkness #1 – a dying man in a hospital bed thinks about his life – brilliant. Get that. The art is very simple and crude but the writing is great.

    Tzachi and Shlomo break the fourth wall #1 – there are no "sequels" but the creator created several other comics he gave away on FCBD – he really put effort into them but I never got to read any (he made them like issues and in color instead of he usual giant thin page with black and white drawings).
    It’s a humorous issue – hilarious one – where two characters that a kid in school is drawing come to life, and he with his girl friend need to fix it – because reality starts collapsing around them. The big character seems to be a tribute to another comics character but I’m not sure. There’s a big and fat bald guy who smokes a cigarette and has a pink bow on his head, and there’s a stick figure character that hits the previous character all the time. Get that.

    The bold adventures of Halalnik (or The bold adventures of Spacenik) – a kid in some space academy is learning to drive a spaceship, but gets his spaceship messed with due to his annoying rival. He somehow reaches an alternate reality/dimension where he finds some people in need of assistance and helps them. A nice space adventure – worth reading. There’s a second book I intend on reading and there might be a third one but I don’t remember. The company released a different comic with a different character called Billy Acres and the goldminers’ treasure – it was translated to English and is called "an interactive graphic novel" – I don’t know what that means and I didn’t read it but I intend to.
    Here’s the creator (Lee Blum) :

    Eddi Balagan (Or Eddi Mess) – a Dennis the Menace type character in school who has two or three friends and the book is about them. The book is a collection of strips – usually one page I think, that took 7 years to complete. Worth a look.

    The sheikh’s tomb – about a character’s interaction with that "monument" over different preiods of his life. It’s short and like one giant issue (think of Superman Peace on Earth but smaller), and the art is great – the writing is nice and the concept is interesting.

    Zoola #1 – the ugly duckling grows up to be a rapper and he tries to steal something from a cat who happens to be a very famous master thief who has a rivalry with another cat who’s also a master thief.
    He is forced to go to an expedition to retrieve some jewelery that’s being guarded by a dragon, and the cat’s assistants join him to make sure everything goes well. It was first published in chunks over time in Zbeng! Magazine.

    Yakari Et Grand Aigle – by Derib + Job – I found a copy translated to Hebrew in my local library. In Hebrew it’s called Yakari and big/great eagle – something like that. Yakari is an indian (native-american) kid who has dreams where a big eagle visits him and gives him presents or tells him about the future. The eagle tells him that he will meet him in real life if he’ll become more like the eagle, the kid manages and meets him – gets a feather from him that is taken away by his tribe because they feel he doesn’t deserve it (it’s a sign of courage or some such), and the eagle tells him not to worry and that his tribe will give him that feather themselves which comes true after Yakari performs a brave act that the whole tribe sees. It’s 49 pages I think and it’s very short – a collection of that would be great. I recommend seeking that out but I only read that short simple book.

    Shay Charka – a local creator that publishes in Hebrew. .
    He has a character called Buba that is a stupid greedy character, and the comics try to teach about "verdicts" people gave to questions asked in the works that interpret the bible (Talmud etc.).
    It isn’t preachy or "come to our side" propoganda, and it’s humorous.
    I read only part of them – one book didn’t work too well in explaining the verdicts, but can’t remember which one it was I think it was "Buba", but "The Buba Affair" (loose translation) is great.
    Mitishelah is also good – an Obelix type character that is sent to Greece to give the Torah to the greeks – he was told to find a king but finds a nation torn with different rulers. He is accompanied by his lamb.
    Jozafan A (in Hebrew it’s Yeotzafan alef) is also good but short. I think my enjoyment was increased by reading about the things talked about in this comic – it’s in biblical times where a short and very bad investigator accompanied by a giant assistant tries to crack several cases but his solutions are always wrong (reminds me of Inspector Clouseau). I feel that the book needed more cases and that it needed to veer more from the accounts of those crimes in the bible. Also it would be nice if they chose less known crimes – the ones here are fairly known, and if they had a purpose for their trip – they walk from place to place and camp outside from time to time, and if the formula was changed sometimes – he gets it totally wrong and people tell him the solution – it gets repetitive.
    There are only four short cases and the main characters aren’t developed enough, but it’s worth a read.

    You can see some of the Israeli comics here: – a lot of those I didn’t buy yet, several I have but didn’t read yet, and several aren’t good enough yet but have potential.
    There are a lot more that aren’t listed there – search for Uri Fink and see how much he published.

    I might have forgotten several works.

  31. Pretty cool Paul.  My Sister comes home from Germany tomorrow with some GL and Wolverine, of course in German.  I’m looking foraward to doing some translating (ironically something I hated in School).  Pretty cool.

  32. @ PaulMontgomery: iIf you need translation for Kuifje: Mannen op de maan (Lit: men on the moon) let me know ;D

  33. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Kourmori – Thanks! But as it turns out, my aunt ended up picking up an English version of a Tintin book I didn’t have in my collection and a Belgian version of one that I did. So I can actually compare my English and Belgian editions of Men on the Moon. No translation needed. It actually worked out really well.  

  34. A friend brought be back a copy of a French Defenders comic once and also this pulpy spy called Diaboliqu or something like that. I have always wanted to rewrite the spy one and turn it into a Humor comic.

  35. I passed French in high school ’cause I dated the TA.

    (Insert inapproriate French kissing joke here.)


  36. I’m going to France on Sunday for two weeks!!!

  37. @s30 – grab a six pack and go to Eiffel Tower at night for the disco. Don’t mind the soldiers.

  38. Forgot to add: if you want a good croissant go to Belgium, and if you want a Belgian Waffle, don’t buy them in Belgium. The boat has a bathroom but it’s nasty.

  39. Any one for the genius that is Jacques Tardi?

    Of all the BD artists he is my personal favourite.  Is particularly strong on war and crime books, but is most famous for the wonderful ‘Les aventures extraordinaire d’Adele Blanc-Sec’ – the Belle Epoch investigator of the occult.  Unfortunately the few English translations of his work are out of print, although there was an 8-page story (The Murder of Hung) printed in ‘The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics’ last year (published by Running Press). 

    Good news: CBR announced in March that Fantagraphic books are starting an ongoing series of reprints of Tardi’s work… although there’s been no sign of them so far…

    Anyway – check out what M. Tardi is all about on the web: