French author Jean Graton, who created the Michel Vaillant comic strip in the late 1950s, died Thursday in Brussels at the age of 97, Dupuis editions announced in a press release.
The series, which recounted the adventures of a racing driver, was declined in 79 volumes, including the last nine (season 2), signed by his son Philippe.
Since 2012 other writers and designers have perpetuated the hero’s adventures.
In total, some 25 million Michel Vaillant albums have sold around the world, Jean-Louis Dauger, director of brand development, sold at the end of 2019 to Dupuis editions, told AFP.
Jean Graton is presented as “the last sacred monster of the golden age of Franco-Belgian comics”.
“His friends and colleagues were called Goscinny, Uderzo, Charlier, Peyo, Roba, Franquin,” the statement continued.
Born in Nantes (western France) on August 10, 1923, Jean Graton was brought up by a father who ran a motorcycle club who took him to the 24 hours of Le Mans.
When he was 8, his first drawing appeared in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir: “it was my daddy repairing his motorcycle,” he recalled in an interview.
Arrived in Brussels in 1947, he gave birth to his hero Michel Vaillant for the first time in the Journal de Tintin ten years later. And in 1959 appeared the first album of the series.
Throughout his career, he drew his inspiration from racing circuits by going to the races himself. “He was the first to understand that to tell stories, you had to be inspired by reality”, commented Dupuis editions.
Jean Graton had been made Commander of Arts and Letters, in France, and Knight of the Order of Leopold, in Belgium.
Thursday morning in Brussels, “he passed away peacefully surrounded by his family,” said the press release.