André-Paul Duchâteau, a Leading Light in the world of Comic Strips
"The Simenon of the 9th Art” as he was described by "Le Figaro", was born in Tournai on 8 May 1925. At the age of sixteen, he published his first crime novel Meurtre pour meurtre, with the support of Stanislas-André Steeman, the cult author of L’assassin habite au 21. In the 1940s, he signed novels and short stories that always revolved around death. Some of his crime novels were even published in the United States in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. The author wrote his first comic scenarios in the 1950s in the issues of Mickey Magazine. From 1955 onwards, he worked with the French illustrator Tibet on the adventures of the journalist-detective Ric Hochet, initially published in the weekly magazine Tintin. This was followed by dozens of albums from 1963 onwards, in which the action was based in France or Belgium. In addition to his collaboration with Tibet, which spanned 55 years, he worked with Daniel Hulet on the series Pharaon, with William Vance, the author of the series XIII, and with Grzegorz Rosinski, the illustrator of Thorgal. As a novelist, he also wrote "La 139e victime", "Mourir à Angoulême", or "De Cinq à sept avec la mort", awarded the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, in 1974. Not settling for novels or comic strips, he was editorial coordinator at Éditions Rossel, editor-in-chief for the Journal de Tintin in 1976, literary director of Éditions du Lombard, and head of the Detectives comic strips collection for Éditions Lefrancq in 1989 and scriptwriter for television.
In an interview in 2010 for Actua BD, he disclosed his favourite albums: those "that have colour, an incredible shade, that we worked on together in the 1970s. They were also the ones that Tibet liked most. I especially liked Les Spectres de la nuit and L’Ennemi à travers les siècles. But, there was also Le Monstre de Noireville, a semi-fantasy album. I really enjoyed starting out with a standard fantasy situation and working on the plot in order to arrive at its exact opposite. The public and Tibet insisted that after finding himself faced with astounding facts in a plot, Ric Hochet found a rational and logical solution to the mystery." This is reminiscent of the adventures of Harry Dickson, known as the American Sherlock Holmes, by the Belgian author Jean Ray.
Always impeccably dressed, Ric Hochet's father was a learned gentleman with an insatiable curiosity. "The most important thing is to be inquisitive…" he used to say. "And to continue to be as enthusiastic as a child!" After a long life of comic strip bubbles, André-Paul Duchâteau passed away on 26 August 2020 at the age of 95 years.
© Le Lombard/ Charles Robin