Superdupont: The Revival

November 26th, 2015 § 0 comments


This was one of those assignments that had me scratching my head. Superdupont is a beloved French figure, but as a caricature of indefatigable Gallic redneckery, seemed basically an inside joke for the hexagonal nation, and not particularly exportable. Stranger still, Europecomics decided to go with a 2015 reboot from artist François Boucq, with script help from Marcel Gotlib and Karim Belkrouf, rather than the character’s 1972 debut from original creators Marcel Gotlib (a mainstay of humor cartooning) and Jacques Lob (the writer of Snowpiercer), who made it a classic in the pages of Pliote and Fluide Glacial. But foreign rights move in mysterious ways.

As a result, little time is spent reacquainting readers with the title character. Instead, the story revolves around the kidnapping of his newborn son. The French subtitle was Renaissance; my initial suggestion of “Rebirth” was rebuffed. I can see why they went with “Revival,” though in retrospect I think the right (and obvious) choice was Superdupont: The Reboot.

Superdupont, son of the unknown soldier buried under the Arc de Triomphe, affectionately ribs all the vieille France, Gaullist values of the generation preceding his creators. Patriotic, chauvinist, potbellied, gourmand, a champion of good living, fine reds, and French cheese, he can often be found in cape and beret striking a Superman-type pose in the three colors of the national flag, a baguette of bread under one arm. He smokes Gauloises, sports carpet slippers (charentaises), and—but of course!—is an expert in that martial art of Marseille sailors, French kickboxing, or savate. His nemesis is a secret terrorist organization called “Anti-France,” whose agents—all foreigners, naturally—speak the fictional gibberish Anti-Français, a mishmash of English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and German. Meant to mock hick xenophobia, this aspect would seem to take on new topicality in the era of the National Front. I didn’t really find that in the story, though I did appreciate its onomatopoeia cannon, reifying the heard word into menacing (comedic) presence.

superdupont sfx attack 1

superdupont sfx attack 2

Sound effects in comics are inherently if not hopelessly dual in nature: at once textual and pictorial, visual and aural, diegetic and non-. Making words meant to mimic sound into material projectiles and forcing characters to confront them maintains that duality.

The unique and truly French super hero is back, like a phoenix from the ashes, to save France once again and to restore it to greatness in a world going to the dogs. Superdupont’s reboot gets a kick-start with the birth of his son who, astonishingly, has inherited the supernatural powers of his father. Perhaps together they can finally bring down the enemies of their wonderful homeland!

This graphic novel is now available as a digital exclusive from EuropeComics on a number of platforms (Izneo, Kindle, Kobo, Google Play, and Comixology).

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