Art and story

Born in Ixelles on 5 May 1931, deceased in Paris on 29 October 1999, Michel Greg has done everything the world of comic strips has to offer: illustrating and scriptwriting with overwhelming production in terms of quantity as well as quality, studio animation, discovering numerous talents, being the chief editor of TINTIN during ten of his most glorious years, being a literary editor in chief at Dargaud, acting as the representative of the European comic book in the United States, writing novels and enjoying life to the full.

At the age of 16, the Belgian boy born as Michel Régnier publishes his first comic strip (Les Aventures de Nestor et Boniface) in the newspaper VERS L'AVENIR, but his talents as a story-teller, greatly appreciated by his friends at school, are definitely more developed than his graphic skills. In 1951, encouraged by editor Charles Dupuis, he meets André Franquin who reveals many tricks of the trade to him with great kindness. Later on he will write scripts for a major part of the gags of Modeste et Pompon and several adventures of Spirou (from 1958 to 1961).

In the mean time he joins the workforce of HEROIC- ALBUMS of Fernand Cheneval and creates the muscular adventures of Chat (1953-1955), sort of a mix between Batman and Dick Tracy. Won over by his persistence, and his stories rather than his illustrations, Charles Dupuis gives him two serials for SPIROU at the same time: "Cady et le temple aux tigres", then "Corrida". The apprentice still signs as Michel Denys Denys referring to his young wife Denise and has the nerve, in 1955, to launch with the help of a few sponsors from Liège, his own weekly LE JOURNAL DE PADDY for which he takes on the editorial work and half of the plates handed in.

This wonderful adventure is stopped short after five issues, and our debt-ridden hero moves to Brussels where he will remain for three years, doing all the work for International Press who is desperate after the recent loss of big names such as Goscinny , Uderzo, Hubinon and Charlier. This is the time when, adding a G to the first three letters of his last name, he finally becomes Greg and leaves his chaotic past behind. He is the one who largely fills the children's supplements provided by the agency to the Belgian newspapers LA LIBRE BELGIQUE and LA DERNIERE HEURE.

His production is fantastic, the pay horrible: Fifi (animal gags, succeeding Victor Hubinon), Luc Junior (in the footsteps of Goscinny and Uderzo), Randy Rifle, Bison et Ouistiti (with René Fouarge), Fleurette, Bronco et Pepito, Toutsy, the scripts of Tiger Joe for Gérald Forton and those of Alain et Christine for Martial after Jean-Michel Charlier has left for Paris.

Franquin advises him to work freelance so that he can terminate the exclusive contract that binds him to this company. He waits, however, until he has enough opportunities for scriptwriting: first of all for Franquin, but also for Tibet (episodes of Chick Bill, Peur-de-Rien and Mouminet), Louis Hache (Bob Francval and Djinn, in IMA), Mittéï (Rouly-la-Brise), Maurice Maréchal (Prudence Petitpas), Paul Cuvelier (Corentin et le poignard magique, Flamme d'argent, Line).

At the same time, while he gradually reduces his work at International Press, he pursues his career as an all-round author at TINTIN: Rock Derby (1960-1963), Bolivar et Broussaille(1962), Babiole et Zou (1962 à 1966), Constant Souci (1967) and he negotiates with Alain Saint-Ogan the rights to take up Zig et Puce (1963).

To be able to develop his numerous ideas and keep on contributing to VAILLANT, then PIF, the series As (1963-1972) as well as Achille Talon in PILOTE (since 1963), he sets up a studio of friends who can help him out from time to time depending on their skills, while still working on their own projects.

In 1965, Georges Dargaud talks him into becoming chief editor of TINTIN, a job he does with great panache and apparently with ease until 1974. He performs his duties at TINTIN in the morning, returning to his friends and new discoveries in the studio in the afternoon. He gradually introduces them into the weekly, which in this way becomes enriched with Hermann (Bernard Prince, then Comanche), Dany (Olivier Rameau) and Dupa (Cubitus), based on his own scripts.

He even finds the time to write series for Eddy Paape (Luc Orient), William Vance (Bruno Brazil, under the pseudonym of Louis Albert to avoid playing a dominant role in the paper!), Edouard Aidans (Les Panthères), and smaller scripts for Jo- El Azara, Bob De Groot, Auclair, Derib or Walt Fahrer. He also works on the scripts for two animation films realised by Belvision based on Hergé's world-famous hero (Tintin et le temple du soleil, Le lac aux requins).

In 1975 he becomes literary manager at Dargaud, taking over the work and office of Charlier. He moves to Paris and acquires French nationality, at the same time applying for a new name. Michel Régnier becomes Michel Greg for good.

His great series continue, but he is unsuccessful with his own ACHILLE TALON MAGAZINE (1975-1976) which does not survive any longer than six issues. He finds comfort in writing a serial for children, produced by Swiss television: L'Agence Labricole.

Georges Dargaud dreams of a peaceful invasion of the United States by his authors. "Michael" Greg moves to Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1982 and battles to create a profile for the French comic strip, but the local public is really not ready for the European style and books.

Disappointed, the salesman keeps himself occupied by writing five detective novels about the duo Hardy and Lesage, and contributing to scripts of the never-ending TV-series Love Boat. In 1987 he writes two Marsupilami stories for Franquin and Batem, subsequently passing this job on to Yann.

Back in France in the late 80s, Greg assures the take-over of several of his characters dropped by their illustrators: Michel Rouge takes over from Hermann for Comanche in 1990, Edouard Aidans gives Bernard Prince a try, Michel Blanc-Dumont illustrates the first adventures of Colby. However, the disappearance of several of his close friends begins to weigh on the workaholic. He even slows down his own production of Achille Talon, and finally sells it to the publishing company.

The time has come to look back on his life. He edits articles for "Lettres de Dargaud", a collection of interviews with Benoît Mouchart and an autobiographic chronicle (Le Dernier des dinosaures). The title, inspired as always by his great sense of humour, reveals the unease of the veteran in modern times.

Equally talented for realistic action stories and verbal excess, effectively handling gags and adventures, this word artist clearly represents a time when the comic strip was intended for pure entertainment.