Jean-François Charles was born in Pont-à-Celles in the Hainaut area. He published his first cartoons and caricatures under the pseudonym Bof, which were published in La Libre Belgique, La Nouvelle Gazette and L'Alliance Agricole. He studied at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts before publishing 'Les Chevaliers du Pavé', his first long comic story written by Jean-Marie Brouyère and Thierry Martens (Terence), in Spirou magazine in 1976-77. He also drew some episodes in the series 'Les Belles Histoires de l'Oncle Paul', that remained unpublished, and he subsequently worked for the Averbode children's publications Dauphin and Tremplin.
It was in Michel Deligne's magazine that he turned to realism for a couple of made in cooperation with scenarist Jan Bucquoy, including the critically acclaimed 'Le Bal du Rat Mort' in 1978. He then traveled through the USA and Canada with his wife Maryse, which gave the couple inspiration for their historical series 'Les Pionniers du Nouveau Monde', that was first published by Deligne in 1982 and later continued by Glénat. The couple, accompanied by colorist Christian Crickx, additionally made the oblong format book 'Sagamore Pilgrimmage' (later retitled to 'Les grands bâtisseurs du Sagamore') in 1988. Charles started to focus on the scriptwriting of 'Les Pionniers' in 1994, and left the artwork to Ersel, while embarking on the new detective series 'Fox' with Jean Dufaux from 1991 to 1998.
Les Pionniers du Nouveau Monde #3 (1987)
Charles took a break from comics 1999 and spent the year making paintings based on his travels to Egypt and India. By 2000 he illustrated the third book in the series 'Le Décalogue' by Frank Giroud, before teaming up with his wife again for the graphic novel series 'India Dreams' (since 2002) and 'War and Dreams' (2007-2009), both published by Casterman.
Jean-François and Maryse Charles have furthermore established themselves as a productive writing team for others, creating series like 'Les Mystères d'Osiris' with Benoît Roels (Glénat, 2006-2011), 'Ella Mahé' (Glénat, since 2010) and the comics biography collection 'Rebelles' with several artists (Casterman, 2006-2007). They have worked extensively with Italian painter Gabriele Gamberini on the detective series 'Red Bridge' as well as the one shots 'Far Away' (Glénat, 2011) and 'American dreams' (Casterman, 2012).