Les Eaux de Mortelune #1 - 'L'Échiquier du Rat'.

Philippe Adamov was a French comics artist, known for his depictions of baroque and imaginative science fiction worlds. First coming to notice with the historical series 'Le Vent des Dieux' (1985-1991), the artist fully came to blossom with the post-apocalyptic saga 'Les Eaux de Mortelune' (1986-2000), both collaborations with writer Patrick Cothias. Futuristic or alternate depictions of our real world remained a theme throughout his oeuvre, which also consisted of the series 'Dayak' (Glénat, 1993-1997), 'L'Impératrice Rouge' (1999-2003), 'La Malédiction de Zener' (2004-2009) and 'Dakota' (2012-2016).

Early life and career
He was born as Philippe Adamoff in 1956. His father was of Russian descent - the Adamoff family moved to Western Europe after the Russian Revolution - while his mother was French. The family was living in London, UK by the time their son was born. Five years later they returned to France. Philippe grew up reading the classic comics by Paul Cuvelier, Hal Foster and Jijé, but Moebius eventually had the most lasting impact on his own art. He was also strongly influenced by science fiction authors like Robert Silverberg, Philip Farmer and Frank Herbert, and by films such as Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner' and Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Oddysey'.

First science fiction projects
He spent a couple of months at the École Estienne in Paris, and then went to work as an apprentice background artist in René Laloux' Angers-based animation studio in 1975. During the next three years, he participated in the production of a pilot for a sci-fi film called 'Machine Man'. It eventually resulted in the feature film 'Gandahar' (1987), which was largely designed by Philippe Caza. Adamov had returned to Paris in 1978, where he began a fruitful career as cover illustrator for sci-fi novels. Among his regular clients were the publishers Opta, Casterman, Robert Laffont and the Librairie des Champs-Élysées (Éditions du Masque), but also the magazine SF Futur. Between 1979 and 1982 he returned to animation as a graphic artist on the French-Japanese animation series 'Ulysse 31' (1981-1982), basically a sci-fi adaptation of Homer's 'Odyssey' by Jean Chalopin and Nina Wolmark.

Le Vent des Dieux, by Phillippe Adamov
'Le Vent des Dieux'.

Transfer to comics
Adamov's first comic was the fairy tale-like story 'Seule au Monde' (1983-1984), which was scripted by Xavier Séguin and published in the bi-monthly children's magazine Okapi. With writer Serge Saint-Michel he also contributed the short story 'Un monsieur nommé Poubelle' to that magazine of Bayard-Presse. In a 1987 interview with Dutch comics information magazine Stripschrift (#215), Adamov recalled he didn't feel at ease with drawing "sweet stories" for a magazine with such strict religious morals as Okapi. His luck changed when editor Henri Filippini asked him to join Vécu, a new comics monthly published by Jacques Glénat and fully devoted to historical comics.


La Vent des Dieux #5 - 'La Balade de Mizu'.

Le Vent des Dieux
At Vécu, he was paired with scriptwriter Patrick Cothias. Their samurai comic 'Le Vent des Dieux' (1985-1991) debuted in the pilot issue, while the first serial, 'Le Sang de la Lune', took off in Vécu #1. The hero of this epic saga was Tchen-Qin, samurai in service of the powerful Lord Oshikaga, who roams the kingdom with his twelve companions to exterminate a band of rebels. His honorary code regularly gets him in conflict with his conscience, resulting in stories with not only adventurous, but also poetic and mystical elements. Adamov had to use heavy documentation for a correct representation of 13th century Japan, but he also saw parallels between the samurai world and his beloved fantasy genre. Adamov drew the first cycle of five albums, after which he handed over the artwork to Thierry Gioux. Cothias and Gioux made eleven more installments until 2004.


Les Eaux de Mortelune #2 - 'Le Café du port'.

Les Eaux de Mortelune
While still continuing their samurai series, Adamov and Cothias launched 'Les Eaux de Mortelune' (1986-2000) in Circus, another Glénat magazine. It touched more familiar ground for the artist, who returned to science fiction for this "horror opera" full of mutants, acid rain and cannibalism. Set amidst the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Paris, it shows the survivors of a nuclear disaster, who are subjected to the yoke of the depraved and bloodthirsty Prince of Mortelune. Glénat released ten albums and two larger collections until 2001.


Dayak # 1 - 'Ghetto 9'.

Other science fiction comics
Aided by his publisher/editor Jean-Claude Camano, Adamov became an allround comics author with 'Dayak' (Glénat, 1993-1997), a cyberpunk trilogy set in a futuristic tribal Africa. The series' power struggle shows similarities with one of Adamov's favorite sci-fi novels, Frank Herbert's 'Dune', and the biblical tale of Cain and Abel. It was Adamov's first and only excursion into writing his own stories. He returned to his personal roots for a collaboration with scriptwriter Jean Dufaux, 'L'Impératrice Rouge' (1999-2003), which consists of four albums. Loosely based on the classic cult movie 'The Scarlet Empress' (1934) by Josef von Sternberg, the authors used Catherine the Great and Peter III of Russia to create a sensual and action-filled mix of historical Russia with high-tech weapons, futuristic vehicles and other intentional anachronisms.


L'Impératrice Rouge #1 - 'Le Sang de Saint-Bothrace'.

Later projects
Adamov moved to publisher Albin Michel in 2004 for 'La Malédiction de Zener' (2004-2009), a comics series written by popular thriller novelist Jean-Christophe Grangé. Set in Paris before May 1968, the story of the subject in a mysterious research program explored the world of parapsychology against a Cold War background. Prepublished in L'Écho des Savanes, three episodes appeared until 2009. By 2012 Adamov was back at Glénat for another collaboration with Dufaux. 'Dakota' (2012-2016) was an ironical take on superheroes, but lasted only two albums.

Final years
Demotivated by the crisis in the comic book industry, no new work of Philippe Adamov appeared after 2016. Having spent several early years of his professional career in the German city Solingen, Philippe Adamov spent a large part of his life in the Gard department in Southern France. The artist passed away on 3 February 2020 at the age of 63.

Dakota by Philippe Adamov
'Dakota' #2.

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