Sunday, 16 August 2009

Rahan – le courage et la peur

This time around I'm going to look back over another of my surviving French comics, a collected edition from September 1982 of a character named Rahan. Now I have to confess I have done no research and have no idea whether he is a well-known character, or even French, neither do I know anything about the writer or artists except one.

First off then, Rahan appears to be a kind of prehistoric Tarzan with a very 70's hair-do! The cover to this 76 page album has a very dramatic painting of our hero being swept up by the horns of a charging Triceratops. The painting is by Romero, better known as a long-time artist of The Evening Standard's Modesty Blaise strip and Axa for The Sun.

Of the four strips inside, all in full colour, only the last is drawn by Romero. There is some very nice artwork here too as Rahan faces off a troop of hostile chimpanzees and rescues a falling baby from a tree (I'm not sure what it was doing up there – I only look at the pictures, I can't read this stuff)! The other strips are drawn by an artist named Andre Cheret although the style of each seems slightly different, the second drawn with heavier lines and bolder images. My guess is these were drawn at different times as his art was evolving and that this is probably a later reprint edition collecting past strips. The first story features the cover image as Rahan saves a tribe from the rampaging attacks of a rogue Triceratops; naturally it is no contest for our hero. The second strip has Rahan enter a secret lagoon where a hostile tribe attack and try to see him off. He sees them off instead and then leaves anyway; this isn't cerebral stuff! The other strip in the collection sees Rahan being put in a cage and dropped into a sea full of sharks. Octopuses, flesh-eating fish and so on for reasons I cannot fathom (see what I did there?).

All the strips are written by the same author, Roger Lecureux and while I cannot claim to read them as such, the power of comics means that reading the images to discern the story still elicits a sense of the adventure and trials of this French hero. There is back up feature about the evolution of early horses which at least seems to be themetically linked to the time period of the main stories. And the album also came with a free gift which I no longer have, a plastic skeleton model kit of L'Homme de Neanderthal complete with club. I read recently that Pat Mills has said that Slaine is by far the best-selling 2000AD strip in the European markets and I guess Rahan, while less darker in tone, fits that style too.

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