Introduction

in European Comic Art

In an article titled ‘Fantômandrake à St-Germain-des-Prés’ published in Giff-Wiff, the French comic fanzine of the 1960s, the critic Claude Beylie promoted an exhibition of the work of the American artist Lee Falk being held at the American Cultural Centre on the rue Dragon (3–15 June 1966).1 Beylie sketched in words a picture of the colourful tourist scene of St Germain, before going on to celebrate an exhibition that brought together drawings and archival images from the creator of the Mandrake and the ‘Fantôme’ strips. After adding some biographical details on Falk, Beylie concluded with the following witticism: ‘Un espoir fou vous traverse: qu’un jour le Fantômandrake traverse la Seine, sur un tapis volant, et aille s’installer au Musée du Louvre, d’où il fera, d’un coup de baguette magique, disparaître la Joconde?’ [A mad hope comes across your mind: that one day the Phantom and Mandrake cross the river Seine on a magic carpet and alight in the Louvre where, with the touch of a wand, he magics the Mona Lisa away].2 Anecdotes and jokes tell us a great deal, and this is no exception.

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