© J.-J. Procureur
Born in Uccle on 10 June 1927, Michel Tacq, known as MiTacq, spent his childhood in Farciennes, where his father had set up a foundry, and in Brussels, where he studied at the Sainte-Marie Institute in Schaerbeek.
At the age of ten he started to draw and tell stories in his school books. After a stay in France during the first few years of the war, he returned to Farciennes in 1942 and continued his studies with the Chaplains of Work in Charleroi.
After the Liberation, he went to Saint-Luc in Brussels for six months, but he was soon forced to work with his father and two brothers, painting and decorating buildings, to support the family.
At the youth club in Farciennes, Michel, signing himself MiTak, drew and exhibited a comic strip each week of a sort of "Tintin" of his own invention: the young "Tam Tam". José Henin, one of the leaders of the movement, published the first two adventures of this character, who was still very naïve, in his magazines in 1944 and 1945: "Les Voyages de Tam Tam" and "Tam Tam fait la guerre". The third planned book ("Bataille d'Afrique") was not published, but the apprentice illustrator found another printer in 1946 ? "De Beiaard" Haegeman-Cousy, in Sottegem - who allowed him to re-launch the hero in a pure science fiction adventure ("Allô... étoile du matin?...") in 1946.
Whilst looking for work during these years of poverty, MiTacq drew a few rare illustrations for Spirou, L'hebdomadaire Des Grands Recits and the scout publications Plein-Jeu and Carrefour, until the day he stepped into the office of Georges Troisfontaines at World's Press in 1951.
Until 1954, he drew about twenty "Oncle Paul" stories (initially signed Balou, his totemic name, then he chose MiTacq permanently) and did a variety of illustration work for La Libre Junior and the didactic drawings in "Coin du petit curieux". At the same time he illustrated a "Marabout-Junior" ("Seul maitre à bord", number 3 in the new collection) for his scout colleague and friend Jean-Jacques Schellens, before planning to launch a comic strip with him, "La Patrouille des Castors".
World's accepted the idea, but left the scriptwriting to Jean-Michel Charlier, who reconstructed, in part, the little troop which had been planned and ensured that the first twenty-one episodes were written for the magazine Spirou, from 1955 to 1978.
After this, MiTacq continued the series, alone or with scriptwriter friends (Wasterlain, Stoquart), until his death in Loverval, on 22 May 1994.
Upon the birth of Pilote, Charlier suggested to his partner that he could illustrate the adventures of an adolescent, "Jacques Le Gall", whom he was proposing to confront with certain contemporary mysteries (Nazi or Templar treasures, Hindu adventures, Mediterranean traffickers). This series, with a heavy, frightening atmosphere, would only have six episodes between 1959 and 1967, continued later in Spirou, then in books published by Dupuis.
In the mid-1960s, the illustrator found himself confronted more and more often with delays in writing from his scriptwriter, who was overwhelmed by all the different jobs he had in France. To occupy his free time, he created "Stany Derval", a globe-trotting motorcyclist and adventurer, and threw himself into this joyfully. The scriptwriters André H. Beckers, Héric (alias André-Paul Duchâteau), Maurice Tillieux and Jacques Stoquart participated in this saga, which MiTacq published episodically between 1967 and 1979, on almost three hundred comic strips.
Having found the freedom to continue with "La Patrouille des Castors" at his own pace, without being dependent on Charlier, the artist abandoned his cartoon double, with regret, to return to his dear scouts, but he had a personal pleasure in slipping him in sometimes, as a passing character.
An essentially realist artist, influenced by Pierre Joubert to begin with and sometimes helped by his friend René Follet, MiTacq amused himself by writing a few humorous stories for special issues of Spirou, as well as various animal parodies of his main heroes, renamed "La Patrouille des Zoms", on which Yvan Delporte collaborated for the scripts.
The complete works of this quiet creator have been brought together in fourteen large volumes "Tout MiTacq", published by Dupuis. A generous crusader of friendship between men of all races, MiTacq ranks among the classics in the borderless universe of comic strips.