Marc Lebut et son voisin
Francis Bertrand, who signed with only his first name, was an artist from the "Marcinelle school", who drew most of his oeuvre for the Belgian magazine Spirou. Born in Uccle, he created his first comic, 'Many Vail', for La Cité in 1957. He then assisted Greg on the comic strips starring 'Luc Junior' and 'Toutsy', that were published in La Dernière Heure and La Libre Belgique.
Francis began his longtime collaboration with Spirou in 1961. He joined Studio Peyo, where his first task was doing the lettering and backgrounds of the 'Johan et Pirlouit' story 'Le Pays Maudit'. He also assisted in the reworking of some of the original 'Smurfs' mini-books to the album publication in the regular format. Although Francis did not stay with Peyo's studio in Brussels for a long time, he returned in 1967 to take over artwork of 'Jacky et Célestin' in cooperation with Roger Leloup, that appeared in Le Soir Illustré.
He also made several stories himself for the center-folded "mini-books" section, but he eventually gained fame for the slapstick series 'Marc Lebut et son Voisin'. This series, about the exploits of two neighbors and a Ford T, was originally scripted by Maurice Tillieux and ran from 1966 until 1983.
Les Soldats de Plomb
Throughout the years, Francis produced a couple of other series for the magazine, such as the series about television host 'Clap' (1969), 'Homme du château' (mini-books section, 1969-73), 'Capitaine Lahuche' (1971-77) and 'Les Soldats de Plomb' (1979-83), an absurd military gag strip drawn in a minimalistic style.
In addition to his work for Spirou, Francis was present in other magazines, such as Le Journal des Pieds Nickelés ('Petitbois', 1962), Record ('Mr Bulle', 1963), Tintin ('Lahuri', 1966) and Pilote ('Jett Panther', 1964). From 1965 to 1968, he made series like 'Pat Cadwell', 'Mr Bouchu' and 'Katty' for J2 Jeunes and J2 Magazine.
In the early 1970s he also produced comics for foreign publications. He helped Berck with the creation of 'Mischa' stories for Rolf Kauka in Germany. Aided by his assistant Janry, he also made stories with 'Die Pichelsteiner' for the same publisher. He was also present in the Italian magazines Corriere dei Piccoli and Il Giornalino with the gag series about the stuntman 'Bill Fracassa', created with scriptwriter Vicq.
Francis Bertrand continued to draw 'Marc Lebut' and 'Les Soldats de Plomb' for Spirou in 1983. He made another 'Marc Lebut' story with scriptwriter Lucien Froidebise' for Éditions Récréabull in 1986 and his final comics work is his contribution to the 1988 collective album 'Tchantchès', published by Khani. He passed away in Rixensart in 1994.
L'Homme du Chateau (1969)