In the parallel universe where great creators never die young and Joe Maneely lived to become one of the mainstays of the Marvel Age, Yves Chaland was not killed in a car accident in 1990 at the age of 33 but continued chronicling the adventures of his Tintin‑alike Freddy Lombard.
Back in our universe, Humanoids is issuing a beautiful 240-page hardcover collection of all five Freddy Lombard stories. Considering they were created and originally published in the 1980s, they have a curiously retro flavour in many respects – and, fair warning, modern readers may take issue with aspects of the portrayal of Africans in the second story, The Elephant
Graveyard (dodgy even in 1984). In the afterword, Jean-Luc Fromental advocates the view that Chaland’s art is evolving backwards, so to speak, towards a purer ligne claire style like that of Hergé at his 1950s peak. But if you come to Freddy Lombard with fresh eyes, you can appreciate the fluidity of Chaland’s earlier, more cartoony art, which goes a long way to reconciling the two competing schools of bandes
dessinées and has a dynamic quality akin to the best of Jaime Hernandez or Darwyn Cooke. Despite the obvious similarities to Tintin, Freddy is a much less strait-laced character and Chaland’s work, even in its questionable moments, can be much more vibrant than Hergé’s.
Whether you love Tintin or hanker for something more gutsy, this sumptuous collection is a real treat and a fitting monument to its talented creator.