Comic artist Jean Tabary is best known known as the artist of the wicked Grand Vizier 'Iznogoud', which he created together with René Goscinny. But he has worked on several other serials, inlcuding 'Totoche' and 'Corinne et Jeannot'. Tabary's work is easily recognizable through his nervous, dynamic and scratchy drawing style.
Richard et Charlie
Born in Stockholm, Sweden as the son of a violinist, Tabary's first job was as a plasterer of ceiling sculptures. He began an association with the comics magazine Vaillant (that later became Pif) in 1956 and started out with the series 'Richard et Charlie', that ran as a weekly adventure serial until 1962.
Totoche (Toontje ontspoort, Dutch version)
However it was the creation of 'Totoche' that became the highlight of Tabary's Vaillant output. Starting his adventures in 1959, the heroic 'Totoche' was the leader of a Parisian gang of kids, that used an abandoned terrain as their playground.
Corinne et Jeannot (Dutch version, Jantje en Carina)
It was especially the explosive relationship between two members of this gang, 'Corinne et Jeannot', that stood out. Therefore, Tabary decided to let these characters star in their own series of gags, published mainly on Pif's back pages from 1965 to 1972. 'Totoche' made his final appearance in Pif Gadget in 1976.
Totoche's popularity was evident when Éditions Vaillant gave the character its own title, Totoche Poche, of which 40 issues appeared from June 1966 to March 1976. Jean Tabary only contributed to the first 24 issues, though, later issues were filled by his brother Jacques Tabary.
Corinne et Jeannot
In addition to 'Totoche' and 'Corinne et Jeannot', Tabary also produced the mishaps of 'Grabadu et Gabaliouchtou' for Vaillant from 1958. Appearing as short gags, comics or game pages, the series ran for only four years. It made a remarkable reappearance in Fluide Glacial magazine in 1977.
It was in 1962 when Tabary started his collaboration with René Goscinny. Their first work were the adventures of the good but silly potentate 'Haroun el-Poussah' for Record magazine. It was the secondary character of power-hungry Grand Vizir 'Iznogoud' however, that became the main character. When Record ceased publication, the adventures of 'Iznogoud' were published in Goscinny's Pilote magazine from 1968 to 1977 and in Pif Gadget between 1986 and 1992. Album collections were published by Dargaud from 1966 until Tabary turned to self-publishing in 1977.
Although 'Iznogoud' didn't gain as much international fame as 'Lucky Luke' and 'Astérix', Goscinny's other series, it was a big hit in France. The character had its own weekly column in Journal du Dimanche from October 1974 to 1977, in which he commented on current affairs.
An animated TV series was produced by Saban in 1995 and a live action film starring Michaël Youn as Iznogoud was created in 2005. Iznogoud's slogan "becoming caliph instead of the caliph" has become well-known in French pop culture and even resulted in the annual Prix Iznogoud that is awarded to a person who has failed miserably in his business.
Valentin le Vagebond (Zwier de Zwerver from Dutch magazine Pep, 1974)
In 1962, Tabary and Goscinny created their second series for Pilote, the poetic 'Valentin le Vagebond'. A longer story was scripted by Fred and Tabary got assistance in the artwork from his brother Pierre on a couple of stories. The character's final adventures appeared in Lucky Luke Mensuel between 1974 and 1976, but was revived by Tabary in the shortlived Corinne et Jeannot magazine in 1999. Between 1966 and 1968, Tabary was additionally scriptwriter for 'Buck Gallo', a series drawn for Pilote by Mic Delinx.
After Goscinny's death in 1977, Tabary continued 'Iznogoud' on his own. Together with journalist Francis Slomka, he founded his own publishing house, Éditions BD'Star, that was later renamed to Éditions Séguinière and eventually to Éditions Tabary. Between 1979 and 1981 the monthly magazines Les Vacheries de Corinne à Jeannot and Les Récrés de Totoche reprinted older 'Totoche' stories, but also brought new gags starring 'Grabadu et Gabaliouchtou'. Éditions Tabary also published reprints of Tabary's first series, 'Richard et Charlie'.
After suffering from a stroke in 2004, Tabary had to give up drawing. 'Iznogoud' was from then on continued by his children Stéphane, Muriel and Nicolas. Jean Tabary passed away in Pont-l'Abbé-d'Arnoult, Charente-Maritime, where he had resised for other thirty years, in August 2011.